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Driving Abroad and Your Insurance

Cover for cover’s sake

Driving in countries like the USA or Canada you will be covered for insurance because you will sort it all out when you book the hire car. But what about driving in Europe? Many people take their cars on holidays to the continent but don’t do anything about their insurance cover, because they think they don’t need to. Wrong.

….Fire and Theft

Most fully comprehensive car insurance policies will automatically provide you with limited cover while you are abroad. However, this will probably be only third party cover in case you have a Road Traffic Accident. So your vehicle will not be covered for fire or theft. But even this third party cover may not apply in all European countries.

European almost Union

In the past British drivers would have needed what was known as a green card to legally drive abroad. But with the advent of the single European Union in the nineteen nineties some countries in Europe such as France and Italy agreed that tourists need not travel with their green card documentation.

But, of course, as with so many things associated with the EU that’s not the end of the story. For example, Romania; as a member of the EU any self respecting Briton would think they could quite happily drive around and be legal. Not so. In fact if you are stopped without a green card your vehicle is likely to be impounded by the police. And while your vehicle may not be impounded in Malta and Poland you certainly still need a green card.

Green Card

The moral of this story is that you must get a green card from your insurer and you must make sure that you are covered as fully as you want to be. For instance, if you are insured under a fully comprehensive policy in the UK you probably want the same cover whilst in Europe. It’s an easy thing to do, simply contact your insurer and ask to find out how much the cover will be over the period you are on the continent. It won’t be a vast amount as it’s likely to be a fairly short time.

The green card itself is actually free. It’s advisable to request this cover well in advance of your trip so as to make sure you receive all the documentation before you go. You may also like to consider having breakdown cover of some sort on your insurance even if you don’t have it on your UK policy.


Just to be safe it is probably worth making copies of the insurance information and leaving a set of these at home just in case you get caught up in a legal mess and lose sight of the originals in a jail somewhere in a remote Greek village!

Remember: never leave valuables, like your insurance documents, in the car when it’s unattended!


It’s a sobering statistic but you are far more likely to have an accident while driving in a foreign country than in the UK. That is not necessarily all to do with the standard of driving on the continent, although you will find it different to this country, but it is also due to the fact that if you are abroad on holiday you are more likely to be relaxed and therefore be concentrating less behind the wheel.


There are plenty of websites that offer advice for drivers thinking of driving their cars or even hire cars abroad. A quick search will send you trawling through mountains of information, most of which is useful, but can be overwhelming.

The main thing is to check your insurance and be alert behind the wheel, and just by following these two simple tips, your time abroad should be as pleasant as you want it to be.

For more information on insurance we recommend Insure121 - a UK insurance comparison site.

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