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Do I need car insurance when travelling?

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When travelling you probably already know that you need travel insurance.  Travel insurance will cover you for medical expenses, lost or stolen luggage, as well as cancellation and delays to your trip.

But what about car insurance?  Do travellers need car insurance?

It’s a good question and your travel policy usually won’t cover anything to do with cars, so you may need to take out another insurance policy to cover any driving you will do on your travels.

Let’s take a look at the factors surrounding travelling and car insurance.

Firstly, do you need car insurance?

Yes you do. 

Whether you are driving in the UK, driving abroad or hiring a car when you get to your destination, you will need insurance.

Check your existing policy first

It’s likely that your own existing UK car policy will cover some driving abroad, especially if you are driving your car in European countries.  Your policy might, for example, cover you to drive your own personal car for up to 30 days in Europe.

So, first things first, check your existing car policy to see what it covers to save wasting money on car insurance you don’t need.

The government say:

“All UK vehicle insurance provides the minimum third party cover to drive in:

  • the EU (including Ireland)
  • Andorra
  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland

Check with your insurer if your policy has extra cover for things like theft or damage to your car abroad.

You also need to carry a physical copy of a ‘green card’ to drive your vehicle in these countries.”

However, you may need additional insurance to drive in other countries, or if you are planning to tow a trailer or caravan, so check the rules of the country and check with your car insurance.

Important - make sure you check the level of cover and the period of cover.  You might only be covered third party when driving abroad and for a limited number of days.

If so and you need more cover or time, then see if your car insurance will do a premium add-on for your trip.

If not then you will need to get a quote before you travel.  You can search online for the best car insurance quotes when travelling such as a temporary European car insurance quote.  Some insurers offer longer stays with 365 days’ worth of cover for those travelling in Europe for longer periods.

Get a green card

Your own car insurance may be able to offer you an add-on to your existing insurance if you need to drive for longer than the minimum or to a different country.  Call them and see.

A green card is proof you have insurance for your vehicle when driving abroad.  Make sure you allow six weeks for it to be delivered, so request a green card well in advance of your planned trip.

Your insurer will issue you a green card, but you will need to request it.

Hiring a car

If you hire a car when travelling then your existing car insurance won’t cover you for this.  The rental company will have to include a basic third party level of insurance, but they will try to add a lot of other optional high priced covers on to your rental.

The basic insurance they offer will likely come with a high excess, so they might offer you excess insurance to cover this.  It’s usually more expensive to buy this cover from the car hire company directly so shop around and compare car hire excess cover online before your trip to find the best deal.

Final thoughts

When travelling and driving, it’s vital to make sure you are covered by the appropriate car insurance.  Your travel insurance will not cover you for liability when driving abroad.

First, check if you are already covered by your existing car insurance if you are a car owner in the UK, then explore your options for car insurance whilst abroad by comparing the market before you travel to secure the best deal and ensure full protection ready for the start of your trip.


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