Car insurance cover abroad
If you have an accident while abroad, the law of the country where the accident took place is applied. This means that the process for claiming compensation might be different than in your home country.
If you are involved in an accident abroad, don't leave the scene. Speak to the other driver, and call the police and/or emergency services, if necessary.
Make sure that you write down the necessary details of the other person involved and the circumstances of the accident.
You should complete an accident report at the scene of the accident.
Your insurer will usually give you an accident statement form. Some insurers' associations have developed a common "European Accident Statement" form. It will help you quickly collect all the necessary information and will make it easier to settle any insurance claims.
If you don't have an accident statement or an insurance form, make sure you write down the following information:
- date and place of the accident
- details of any injuries, material damage and witnesses (make sure you get their contact details)
- the other driver's contact details (name, address, phone number)
- the other driver's insurance company details (including policy number)
- information about the other driver's vehicle (registration number, country of registration, make and type – and the same information for any trailer)
- contact details of the police authorities to whom the accident was reported
- circumstances of the accident
If you and the other driver agree on the circumstances of the accident, you should sign a statement. It will make it easier to settle the insurance claim.
Remember – do not admit liability and only sign the accident report if you fully understand it.
If you don't agree, your insurer will settle the dispute with the other driver's insurer. The insurer will base the settlement on the police report, assessment of the damage or other information.
To support your claim you should collect:
- witness statements and/or
- a police report
You must report the accident to your insurance company even if you don't want to make a claim.
What's your situation?
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You may want to check whether your insurer offers unlimited liability cover, especially for personal injuries.
EU law guarantees that you receive the highest amount of liability cover available (see example below).
EU law gives you maximum liability coverage
Your home country applies the established EU minimum liability cover for material damages - €1 120 000. You cause an accident in another EU country, where the minimum liability cover is higher - €1 200 000. The material damages resulting from the accident have been estimated at €1 180 000, so €60 000 higher than the liability cover set in your home country.
Although you have not agreed higher amounts with your insurer, you will be covered for €1 180 000 because EU law applies the most advantageous liability cover. In this case the cover applicable in the country where the accident took place.
The accident was not my fault
Accidents involving an uninsured driver
Tell the police if you have an accident involving a driver who is not insured or who leaves the scene of the accident. Your insurance company will also be able to give you advice.
You can also contact your national compensation body. It can intervene if the other person's vehicle is uninsured or the insurer cannot be identified.
If you suffered any loss, damage or injury resulting from the accident you can claim for compensation. You usually have to submit your claim within a certain time - check with your insurer.
Claiming while abroad
You should submit your claim for compensation to the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.
Claiming when you get home
You have 2 options:
1. Submit your claim to the national representative of the insurance company that covers the person who caused the accident.
The claims representative in your country will check the information and take all the necessary steps to negotiate the settlement of your claim. To find out if that insurer has a national representative in your country, contact the national green card bureau/information centre.
2. Submit your claim to your country's national compensation body.
If the insurer from the other EU country doesn't have a representative in your home country, you can send your claim to the national compensation body. This body will also help you if the other person's vehicle is uninsured or the insurer could not be identified.
Submit your claim wherever is easiest for you
Ignacio lives in Spain. During a holiday in Germany, he was the victim of a car accident caused by a German driver. As Ignacio doesn't speak German, he found it difficult to submit his claim for compensation in Germany.
Ignacio instead decided to submit his claim to the Spanish national compensation body once he got back home. This meant he avoided the language problem and got his compensation.
3 months to receive an offer of compensation or reply
If liability is not contested and the damage has been assessed, you should receive a reasoned offer of compensation within 3 months of submitting your compensation claim.
If it's unclear whose fault the accident was, or how much compensation you are entitled to, you should receive a reasoned reply to the points made in the claim.
If you don't receive a reply or an offer within 3 months, you are entitled to interest on the amount of compensation offered by the insurer or awarded by the court.