If you’re driving your car abroad, make sure it’s insured

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These days it seems we don’t only enjoy holidaying in Europe with family and friends; an increasing number of us take our car with us as well. But if you’re taking your car with you on holiday, make sure it’s insured.

Taking your car with you on holiday in Europe

Whatever the level of car insurance you have in the UK, all insurers have to provide the legal minimum insurance if you take your car to a country that’s a member of the European Union. This legal minimum level of cover is normally the equivalent of third party cover.

SAVVY TIP: The same rule applies to a limited number of other European countries that the UK has an agreement with (such as Iceland). However, you still need to take the correct documents as evidence that your car is insured.

Will you get European cover with your policy?

If you have a comprehensive car insurance policy and you are driving your car in Europe, don’t assume that your insurer will automatically give you the same level of cover once you leave the UK. Many will not.

If they do:

  • It may be free of charge. Some policies will give comprehensive cover free of charge within most EU countries (and sometimes a limited number of non-EU ones as well), as long as you tell the insurance company before you travel.

SAVVY TIP: With these companies, cover is normally free of charge for between 30 and 45 days, but you should check with your provider.

  • It may be free of charge for short trips. Some policies will only insure your car on a comprehensive basis free of charge for up to a week and charge extra if your holiday is longer.
  • You may have to pay extra. Some insurers charge a premium for all comprehensive cover outside the UK. The amount you pay may be a flat fee or linked to the length of your stay, the type of car you own and the country you are visiting.

Do you need a Green Card?

In the past you had to take a Green Card (a special form provided by insurers) if you took your car abroad as evidence that it was insured, but these days your insurance certificate is all you need if you are travelling within the EU.

  • Some other countries accept insurance certificates. These include Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

SAVVY TIP: If you are travelling around Eastern Europe and visiting non-EU countries, you may find a Green Card is compulsory. If you need one, contact your insurer.

Do you have breakdown cover in Europe?

If you look carefully, you can get car insurance policies that include breakdown cover while you’re driving abroad — but they are in the minority. If yours doesn’t, you can upgrade your existing breakdown policy or buy a standalone one.

As with car insurance, the level of cover you get will vary. Some policies have lower claim limits than others; some will arrange for your car to be transported home if it cannot be repaired while you’re away, others will only pay for you to go back and pick it up.

SAVVY TIP: You should also make sure the car has been serviced regularly as you may be asked for evidence of this if you have to make a claim.

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