Car insurance validity in the EU
Validity of compulsory and optional insurance
When you register a car in any EU country, you must insure it for third party liability. This compulsory insurance is valid in all other EU countries. It covers you if you have an accident causing damage to property or injury to anyone other than the driver. It doesn't cover other costs (e.g. the cost of repairs to your own vehicle).
You can also take out additional, optional insurance, called first party liability, covering other risks. This insurance extends your cover (e.g. to injuries to the driver, damage to your vehicle, theft of your vehicle/its contents, vandalism, and legal assistance).
There are no EU-wide rules on additional optional car insurance. Check the terms and conditions with your local insurer before you travel abroad. Insurers can apply different rules in each country. So your insurance could be limited by time (e.g. a month abroad) or by distance (e.g. 150km from the border of your home country) or might exclude some countries for some types of risk (such as theft).
Car insurance in your host country
You must register your car in the country where you normally live. You don't need to register your car in your host country if you can prove that you are staying there only temporarily e.g. as a student.
When you register, you will have to present proof that you have insurance coverage.
The car registration authorities should accept insurance cover from any insurance company:
- based in that country or with an office there
- without an office in that country but authorised to provide services there.
If you are moving to another EU country and need to re-register your car, you will have to check with your insurer whether your current contract will be valid in the country you are moving to.
In principle, you can also insure your car in an EU country different from your country of residence. But remember to check if the insurance company offers international services.
Is insurance from my home country valid abroad?
Lazlo, who is from Slovenia, moved to Ireland, taking his car, for which he has a standard Slovenian insurance policy.
Once in Ireland, he'll need to register his car with the Irish authorities and find out if he can drive on his Slovenian insurance. If not, he'll have to take out new insurance in Ireland.
Find out more about national regulations on car insurance
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Buying new insurance abroad
If your current contract is not valid in the country you are moving to, or expires if you re-register your car there, you can contact the national green card bureau/information centre to ask which insurers offer car insurance in that country.
Insurance premiums and claims history
Motor insurance premiums differ from one EU country to another, mainly due to differences in national contract laws, risk assessments and compensation schemes or complex and expensive international claims management.
In some EU countries, your claims history can affect your insurance premiums. You may have heard this called a no-claims discount, no-claims bonus or bonus-malus system. If you make no claims during the year, your insurer may give you a discount when you renew your contract. But if you made a claim, you may be asked to pay more.
You can ask your insurer at any time for a record of any claims you have made over the last 5 years. They must provide this within 15 days.
But if you have to take out new car insurance in another EU country, the new insurer is not obliged to take account of your previous claims record (or any reductions you might have been eligible for) when calculating your premium.
Some insurers will consider your claims record, though, so always shop around.
I have a good driving record at home, so why is insurer abroad charging me a higher premium?
Rosa is from Italy and recently moved to France. She had been driving for 10 years in Italy with no claims and so the premiums for her Italian insurance were relatively cheap.
Several French insurers refused to consider Rosa's driving record in Italy, so she shopped around until she found one who would – enabling her to obtain cheaper insurance.