International car insurance 2021 | Finder UK

International car insurance

Driving to Europe or perhaps even further? We explain how to get international insurance for either your car or a rental.

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How does international car insurance work?

European Union and European Economic Area

You’ll need to get in touch with your insurer and let them know you’re driving to Europe. If you’re fine with having the most basic level of insurance (third party) then your provider should let you drive off without having to pay for any extra international car insurance. This is because anyone with car insurance in the UK will have (at the bare minimum) third party insurance when they head over to the EU or EEA. So should you hit a car while in Spain your insurer will help pay to fix the other person’s car.

Your vehicle is a different matter though. Even if you have a comprehensive policy here this might not extend to Europe. You could well revert to a third party level of cover. So if you want to keep your precious wheels safe and protected, call your provider and ask if you can extend your level of cover for your big trip to the continent.

One final note of warning. If there’s a no deal Brexit then Brits will have to start using Green Cards when they head to Europe. We explain what these are below.

Outside the EU and EEA

You obviously can’t drive to a war zone and expect to stay insured on your UK policy. However, there are 47 countries that take part in what is called the Green Card system.
In these countries you can use a Green Card, which is an internationally recognised certificate proving you’ve got (at the very least) third party insurance.

This includes all 28 EU countries, the EEA members, and also countries like Andorra, Switzerland, Serbia, Russia, as well as several countries in the Middle East and others bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

However, you’ll need to ask your insurance company if you can get one for the countries you’re visiting. Some insurers won’t let you go to many of these countries.

What is the right insurance for me?

There are three types of cover you can get, whether you’re driving in the UK or abroad.

  • Third party car insurance. To legally take to the roads in the UK or in Europe, you need at bare minimum an insurance type called “third party car insurance”. It only covers the cost of paying other people for any injury or damage. So, you won’t get any compensation if you hurt yourself or damage your vehicle.
  • Third party, fire and theft insurance. This offers the same as third party, but will help you out if your vehicle is damaged having been stolen or due to a fire.
  • Comprehensive car insurance. As the name suggests, this brings all the benefits of a third party, fire and theft insurance. However, you’ll be compensated if your car is damaged. You could also be helped out with medical and legal expenses.

You’ll have to decide which insurance type is right for your trip. However, if you have third party insurance in the UK you probably won’t be able to upgrade to a higher level just because you’re going on holiday.

If you do have comprehensive car insurance though, then get in touch with your insurer and see if you can take the cover with you.

Do I need to buy additional insurance when renting a car?

Renting a car in the UK and driving abroad

If you’re renting a car in the UK and driving it abroad you’ll certainly need to pay extra. This might come in the form of Continental Cover or the company might charge you a cross-border fee. Whatever the case, this is the rental car business charging you extra insurance costs for taking the vehicle over land and sea.

Make a million percent sure the place you’re renting from knows you’re going abroad and specify which countries. Not all companies will allow you to drive outside of Britain. If you go to a country without permission you could be driving illegally and the insurance could be made void – then you’d have to foot the entire cost for fixing the car!

Hiring a car abroad

So maybe you’re flying to Spain or Greece and you want to hire a car when you get there. Great idea, but should you get any additional insurance? The short answer is no. Insurance should be part of the deal when you rent a car. In terms of the long answer, you might want to buy your own car hire excess insurance.

Why? Well if you have damage your rental car in any way you’re liable to pay an excess. This is the amount you have to cough up before insurance kicks in and foots the bill. With rental car basic insurance policies this might well add up to anywhere between £500 and £2,000. So by taking out a car hire excess policy you won’t have to stump up a large sum to repair the car. You can find insurers who offer policies like these online.

International driving checklist

So your big road trip is here and you’re ready to go! Well nearly, because you need to double check you’ve got the following essentials. In some countries it’s illegal to drive without reflective vests in your boot, so it’s key you make sure you’ve got the following:

  • Full driving licence
  • Car registration documents
  • Insurance documents
  • Company car authorisation letter
  • Breakdown policy documents
  • Travel insurance papers
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • Reflective jackets
  • Warning triangle

Frequently asked questions


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