Does UK Insurance Cover Europe?

Car Insurance in the UK vs. the US

You may have this assumption that your UK motor insurance cover automatically protects you from driving in Europe. You could be surprised once you are involved in an accident or breakdown and that’s why it is always important to check your insurance policies before setting off.

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Does UK Insurance Cover Europe? The Good News.

You have the legal minimum cover in any EU country once you’ve got valid UK car insurance. Though this can be very basic- you’re covered in some countries for even less than UK third-party insurance meaning theft and damage from vandalism are not included.

It is a good idea to contact your insurer before you travel for your peace of mind. Your insurer will be able to advise whether you have the same level of coverage abroad as you do in the UK.

Since 1st January 2021, the UK has left the EU and so you will be required to have extra documentation to drive abroad. To drive in the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) from that date, you will need:

If you are taking your car, you will need your driving license and vehicle registration documents (V5C) and also an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in some EU and EEA countries. This can be bought from the post office for £5.50.

A certificate proving that you have motor insurance coverage when driving abroad is called a green card. You will need to apply for one if you plan to be driving in the EU and EEA, including the Republic of Ireland.

Ask your insurance provider to get a green card and also check the policy covers to drive in the countries you’re going to. It can take several weeks to come through, so plan. You might have to pay some charges too.

Car Insurance in the UK vs. the US

If you live in Northern Ireland

Since January 2021, the above still applies to drivers in Northern Ireland. Drivers in Northern Ireland need to carry an insurance green card when driving across the border to the Republic of Ireland ( As well as the rest of Europe). This is unless there’s an agreement to the contrary.

How Long Does UK Insurance Cover Europe?

Some insurance policies automatically provide cover but it is important to check because they can just be for a very short period at a time if there might be a maximum number of days abroad each year. Other insurers will provide short-term cover for a fee. Or some companies may provide extra coverage for less than your insurer.

Do You Have a European Breakdown Cover?

In Europe, the cost of repair and recovery can be much higher. It is not out of place for recovery costs to top £1000 and they can be as much as £2000. Spare parts can often be more expensive too- especially if they’re different between left-hand and right-hand drive vehicles.

If you need to claim and your policy does not cover you for breakdowns abroad, there is a long list of expenses that could be coming your way:

Recovery- getting your car home could be very expensive

Accommodation- while your car is repaired, you will need to break your journey.

A hire car to get you around legal costs if there’s another driver involved.

What insurance do I need when hiring a car abroad?

It is vital to have the right documents.

From 2021 January, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well as your UK driving license to be able to drive in Europe. The permit you need depends on which country you are visiting and how long you’re staying.

You don’t need a green card if you’re hiring a car within the EU.

Check What’s Included in the Car Hire

With regard to the country you are traveling to, you might be obliged legally to have three types of basic insurance. These are usually included in your car hire costs and contact.

  • Theft protection or vehicle theft cover for the theft of your vehicle.
  • Cover for damage to the vehicle also known as collision damage waiver, damage excess waiver, or vehicle damage cover.
  • Cover for injury or property damage suffered by a third party, also known as third-party cover or supplementary liability.

Get to Grips with Credit Card Pre-authorization.

Agreement on car rentals usually include an authorization allowing the rental company to charge your credit card for extra items.

This is why you are usually required to show your credit card at the deal when you pick up your hire car.

Without getting a permission or even without telling you, the car hire company can take a payment from your card.

What it means is that a car rental company might charge you the full excess cover for even the minor damage to the car.

It is vital to check the car thoroughly and record every scratch and mark. Make sure also that the hire company signs and records every mark so you both agree the condition it was returned in.

Car Insurance in the UK vs. the US


For countries you plan to visit, make sure your policy covers them. This includes those you’re only going to be driving through on the way to somewhere else. Some policies will only cover you in the European Union. Remember, Switzerland and Norway are not included.