Are you planning a sweet road trip across the channel? We don’t blame you! There’s a whole world out there, and Europe is a great starting point if you’re experiencing feelings of wanderlust.
After all, travel is opening up now, and there are so many Instagrammable locations that need to be seen.
The good news is, you can take that trip even if you don’t own a car. And you don’t need to bother with hiring cars abroad either, as long as one of your friends is willing to lend you theirs for a few days or weeks. That’s what friends are for, right?
But, before you book yourself onto a ferry and sail off into the sunset, you probably want to make sure you have the right car insurance.
So read on to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for a smooth Euro trip. This article is about short term car insurance generally, and is not specific to Zixty.
Can I use short term car insurance if I’m going abroad?
Temporary car insurance can provide a different level of cover from that provided by annual policies, and they are generally designed to provide the minimum level of cover required by the laws of compulsory insurance. Looking at our most local international neighbours this applies to any member of the European Union and any country that has agreed to follow the EU directives about compulsory motor insurance and which is approved by the commission of the EU.
Whatever insurance you take out, you’ll need to read the policy wording to make sure you’re covered appropriately – nobody likes a nasty surprise.
If you take out temporary car insurance, you’re unlikely to need to tell your insurer if you’re going abroad. You must ask your friend if you’re borrowing their car though. They’ll probably freak if they find out on Insta that Gertie the Golf is galavanting across the French Riviera without them.
What level of cover can I expect while I’m abroad?
Short term insurance is generally designed to provide the minimum level of cover required by the country you’re travelling to. This usually means third-party cover. Third-party insurance usually covers the cost of damage to someone else’s property.
But, short term policies are generally not designed to insure the car against damage, theft, or accidents where you are at fault while you’re abroad. You will therefore usually be responsible for recovery, repair and repatriation costs of the car.
Temporary insurance is generally designed to allow you to drive the car legally while you’re abroad, and to allow you to meet the minimum requirements set out by the country you’re visiting.
Do I need a Green Card to drive abroad?
A green card proves that you have the minimum car insurance required to drive in the country where you’re going. But, you don’t always need a green card to drive abroad.
In fact, if you are travelling anywhere in the EU, Andorra, Bosnia, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Serbia, or Switzerland, you won’t need a green card. You’ll still need valid car insurance though.
But if you are driving in other European countries like Albania, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Turkey or Ukraine, you’ll need a green card to make the trip.
And if you’re going further afield, other requirements may apply. You can find out what you need to do by visiting the government’s foreign travel advice pages ahead of your trip.
Make sure you have a green card if you need one. You might be asked to show it at the border when moving between countries, or if you’re stopped by police.
Does my friend need to tell their insurer if I’m using their car to go abroad?
Let’s assume your friend is happy to let you borrow their car for a couple of weeks for your Euro trip. By the way, that’s friendship goals right there!
But, they might be wondering what this means for them. Do they need to tell their insurer you’re going abroad?
To put it simply, no. You’ll be covered by the temporary car insurance while you’re abroad, so they don’t need to inform their insurer.
What do I do if I’m involved in a car crash while I’m abroad?
So the worst has happened. You’ve been involved in a car crash while you’re abroad. What do you do now?
The first thing to do is to make sure everyone is okay. If not, call the local emergency services if you can.
Citizens Advice recommends that you call the police and get a copy of the police report as well. It’s your responsibility to make sure you’ve reported the accident in accordance with local laws.
You should also take photos of the accident and exchange insurance details with the driver.
The golden rule of thumb is not to apologise or admit liability – even if you can speak the local language well enough to do so; it’s not your responsibility to work out who’s responsible.
What happens if I break down while I’m abroad?
Temporary car insurance policies differ from one to the next, and you need to check before you set off to check whether any breakdown cover will apply if you break down while you’re abroad.
The only exception to this rule is if your friend’s insurance policy has breakdown cover that includes your use of the car while you’re abroad. Otherwise, the breakdown is on you.
Yup – we know – it’s not ideal if you’re worried about potential breakdowns. European Breakdown cover can be bought separately as well. But you’ll need to discuss this with your friend and make sure the cover would apply to you even if you’re not a named driver on their insurance.
What else should I keep in mind if I want to drive abroad?
While you want to make sure you’re insured, there are a few other things you might want to think about before setting off.
For instance, make sure you’re aware of the driving laws of the countries you’re planning on visiting. Some countries require that you carry things like a reflective jacket and warning triangle which you need to use to warn other drivers if you have an accident. Others insist that you have a first-aid kit in your boot. And others may require you to use winter tires if you’re visiting during the winter months.
Also, remember that you’ll be driving on the right while you’re in Europe. That will take some getting used to, especially at roundabouts which will be counter-clockwise.
But that’s not all – if you bring your car that’s designed to be driven on the left in Europe, your headlights may need adjusting too, or they might blind other drivers at night. This is an easy fix though, places like Halfords sell headlight converters that could help you sort out this situation quickly.
These are just some key bits to remember as you prep for your Euro-trip.
Taking a car abroad with short term car insurance
Taking your mate’s car abroad on the adventure of a lifetime doesn’t have to end in disaster. You’ll just have to do a bit of prep before you set off. Well, okay, probably a lot of prep.
But as long as you do your research before you leave and put everything in place, you’re likely to have a smooth trip.
And with short term car insurance options, you don’t have to worry about being uninsured on your travels either. Even if you only want to borrow your friend’s car for a couple of weeks.