European car insurance

Get the right European car insurance, learn more about green cards, and find out how Brexit could affect your European driving holiday.


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We Brits love to drive to Europe on holiday – 2.5 million of us do it every year. So for anyone planning to drive abroad this year, we explain what you’ll need to do to get insured.

What does European car insurance cover?

If you have a UK car insurance policy you’ll definitely get third party cover when you drive in EU countries. As a minimum, all UK car insurance policies have this level of coverage. However, your insurer might not give you any financial help should you crash. Even if you have comprehensive cover here. So definitely speak with your insurer and find out your level of coverage before you zoom off on holiday.

Do I need to increase my level of car insurance to drive in Europe?

It depends. Driving abroad can seem pretty scary and alien, what with all the different rules and driving on the right. So, you might want to ask your insurer if you can pay extra for a higher level of cover when driving abroad. This could give you some peace of mind, which is what a holiday is all about. It’s also worth saying that even if your policy does cover any damage to your car, there may well be a limit on the number of days you’re insured abroad.

Ultimately, if you’re away for a few weeks or months, you could have to buy an extra European car insurance policy. See our page on short term European car insurance for more on this.

Can I drive in Europe after Brexit?

In theory, yes. Although you’ll definitely need a green card.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said any UK car insurance policy which offers the legal minimum coverage for travelling in countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) will still work. Even if the whole palaver ends in no deal with the EU. However, as mentioned before, you’ll need to be travelling with a green card.

What is a car insurance green card?

A green card is an internationally recognised document that serves as proof of insurance in Europe. You get one from your insurer and it basically shows that you have (at the very least) third-party cover. While the UK is still in the EU you don’t need one for driving in European Union member states. It just makes it easier when exchanging details after an accident. However, should there be a “no deal” Brexit then it will be illegal to drive in Europe without one.

How do I get a car insurance green card?

Get in touch with your insurer well before you’re due to head off. The Association of British Insurers says you should make the request at least a month before you travel. Your provider will need to process your request and post the green card to you – all of which can take a while. Also, depending on your insurer, you might have to pay a fee to get one.

Which countries are covered by European car insurance?

Most European countries are covered by a standard UK car insurance policy. Any EU member state, for example. However there are a few popular destinations that aren’t. These include Switzerland, Turkey and Russia. So you don’t suddenly turn your holiday into a Jason Bourne film, check your policy with your insurer before you go abroad.

EU driving checklist

How will Brexit affect car insurance?

Anyone who says they can accurately predict Brexit is lying. Who knows what type of exit deal we’ll strike with the EU, if any at all? However, here are a few aspects of car insurance that we think might well change.

  • Women pay less. Under EU law car insurers can’t discriminate between genders. After Brexit though, insurers may well offer women cheaper premiums as they statistically have fewer accidents.
  • Green cards. You’ll still be able to take your car or motorbike around the European Union, but you’ll need a green card. The ABI has said any UK car insurance policy which lets you legally drive in the European Economic Area (EEA) will still be valid, but only with a green card.
  • Making a claim. Currently if you’re injured abroad you can return to the UK and make a claim through the foreign insurer or the Motor Insurers’ Bureau compensation body. Afterwards though, you might have to make the claim in the country it happened, and in its language too.

Will car insurance premiums increase after Brexit?

Not necessarily. In fact they could well be cheaper for women. EU law stops car insurers from discriminating on the basis of gender. So insurers can’t currently offer women cheaper policies despite tending to have fewer accidents. After the UK leaves though, this may change.

Which countries are part of the green card system?

Currently 47 countries are signed up to the Green Card Scheme, including all 28 EU countries.
Other countries outside of the European Union include Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iran, Israel, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Russia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.

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