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Does my car insurance cover me in Europe?

If you have a standard 12-month car insurance policy in the UK, you’ll usually be covered to drive in some European countries for up to 30 days. The countries that are covered and the level of cover you have can vary from insurer to insurer. If you have comprehensive cover in the UK, you may only have the most basic third-party cover when you’re driving in Europe. 

If you have a car that's expensive to repair or you’d just like a bit more peace of mind while driving abroad, you might want to think about upping your level of cover from the standard third-party level. Your insurer may charge you to add extra cover. But without it, if you're involved in an accident that's your fault or where the fault is unknown, you won't be able to make a claim for any repairs.

To upgrade your existing cover, speak to your current provider.

If you’re looking to take out a new policy that includes extra cover for driving abroad, some insurers offer European car insurance as an optional extra when you take out a policy. When you get a quote using our site, click on the 'More info’ button next to each insurer. Then look for the ‘Driving abroad’ section to see whether EU cover is included, as well as the number of days it’s valid for and whether it includes a green card.

Driving in Europe after Brexit

The UK’s Brexit transition period is now complete, and the UK is no longer part of the EU.

If you’re planning on driving your car in Europe, there are some rule changes you need to be aware of:

  • Before you travel, you’ll need a ‘green card’ which acts as valid proof of insurance for international travel.
  • A GB sticker must be displayed on your car – even if your reg plate has a GB icon.
  • If you have a photocard driving licence, you won’t need an international driving permit (IDP) for driving in the EU. If you have a paper licence or are travelling to a non-EU country, you may need to get an appropriate IDP.
  • Some insurance companies may not cover you in Europe, so make sure you check your car insurance policy before you travel. For more information on travelling in 2021 and beyond, check out our guide on travelling to Europe in 2021.

Do I need a green card to drive in Europe?

Yes, you'll need a green card to drive in Europe. A green card is a motor insurance certificate that’s valid in Europe. Make sure to keep it safe with your other travel documents as it proves your car is insured.

Most insurers include basic third-party cover in Europe for up to 30 days. But if you ask them, your insurer should also give you a green card which will act as your proof of cover while driving abroad. You’ll need to let them know your policy number, when you’re travelling and whether you’ll be towing a caravan or trailer.

You should apply for your green card at least one month before you plan to travel. Demand for green cards might be high following the end of the Brexit transition period.  

Outside of the EU, countries that still need a green card are: Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland. In other countries you may need a green card and additional insurance. For more information see our guide on driving abroad.

Do I need breakdown cover to drive in Europe?

European breakdown cover isn't a legal requirement, but it could help you if you run into problems with your car when driving abroad. Without cover in place, you could end up with a costly bill for recovery. European breakdown cover is available as an add-on to your car insurance when you get your quote. Or you can get a standalone policy by comparing European breakdown cover quotes.

What else should I know about driving in Europe?

  • Apart from remembering to drive on the opposite side of the road, it's worth reading up on the road rules including speed limits and drink drive limits for your destination.
  • Many countries require you to carry certain things in your car or modify it for driving abroad. In France for example it's compulsory to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket and alter headlamps so they don't dazzle oncoming drivers. The AA have produced a helpful guide displaying the EU driving requirements for many countries.
  • You're required to attach a GB sticker to your car. For more information, here's what you need to know before hitting the road.

What our expert says:

“If you’re driving in Europe, you’ll need to apply for a green card at least one month before you travel. Remember, there’s been a few rule changes since the UK left the EU. Before you go, check with your insurer to make sure you have everything you need.”
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Alex Kindred, Car insurance Product Manager
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