How to Buy Car-Rental Insurance in Europe
Car-rental insurance abroad can be a costly headache. T+L explains how to do it right.
It was one dinged-up rental car. Smashed driver’s-side mirror; sizable dent in the passenger-side aft bumper. And no, it wasn’t my fault—at least, not entirely. The Dublin rental agency never asked about damage when I returned the car, but I spent that night agonizing about how much insurance I had purchased and the potential hit on my wallet. Ten years later, I’m still half expecting a bill.
That incident taught me a lesson: always have comprehensive insurance when renting abroad—especially in Europe, where your personal car insurance is unlikely to be valid and deductibles are high. But rental insurance in Europe is tricky. “There are different rules for different countries,” says Paula Lyons, who runs the website best-car-rental-tips.com. “It can be confusing.”
To begin with, most rental rates in Europe include liability insurance, which covers damage to anything outside the car—but not to the vehicle itself. For that you need a collision damage waiver (CDW). Some companies include a CDW in the rental rate, while others sell it for $15–$30 a day; it may also be offered through your credit card provider. Whether included in the rental rate or acquired separately, a CDW in Europe carries a deductible of around $1,000–$2,000—even if the damage wasn’t your fault. And a CDW doesn’t cover your tires, windows, roof, undercarriage, or interior. Nor does it include theft (also called “loss”) insurance, which costs an extra $5–$12 a day. If your car is stolen and you don’t have coverage, you could be liable for the full value.
As if all that weren’t confusing enough, there’s something known as “super” CDW, also called “extended,” “top-up,” or “excess” CDW. These lower your deductible to nearly zero for an extra $20–$30 per day. Avis’s Super Cover policy, for example, both nixes the deductible and protects against loss. “It relieves any financial responsibility in case of accident or theft,” says John R. Barrows, a company spokesperson.
Finally, a car-rental agent may suggest that you buy personal accident insurance. This provides injury and death benefits for the driver and any passengers. You already may be covered for this by your credit card or travel insurance.
You can buy all of the above coverage from the rental-car company, but it might run as much as $80 a day with advance purchase, or even more if you buy it at the counter. Alternatively, you can rely on the coverage provided by some credit cards, but beware that these policies come with restrictions.
Another option: get a CDW from a third-party insurer; they often charge less than rental companies. Travel Guard, for one, offers a low-deductible CDW for $9 a day. But these still may not cover theft and personal accidents.
“Like any insurance, it can be expensive,” Lyons says. “That is, until you need to use it—then you’re very glad you have it.”
European Car Insurance
Make sure you’re covered for driving in Europe
By Pete Carr Friday 2 March 2018
Driving around Europe is a popular option for many British holidaymakers, but if you’re planning on driving abroad, it’s important to check your insurance policy carefully before setting off.
In this Article
Europe can be a difficult place to drive, with different infrastructures and rules, and of course driving on the other side of the road can be confusing. According to the EU Commission it’s almost twice as dangerous to drive in France as it is in the UK, for example. Their figures show that it’s most dangerous to drive in Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria – so be careful.
The good news is that almost all UK car insurance policies come with at least the minimum level of cover required for driving in the European Union.
However, some insurers will automatically drop the cover provided to third party only, meaning that if you have an accident then your insurance will cover the damage to the other cars but not your own. Others will maintain the UK level of protection, so if you have a fully comprehensive policy in the UK, it will follow you across Europe.
When you compare cheap car insurance quotes, it’s always worth checking how each insurer handles driving in Europe to see what level of cover the policy will include. If you already have car insurance, you should check your policy before taking your car to Europe, and increase the protection provided if necessary.
Have you got the right car insurance?
Having an accident when driving in another country can be particularly stressful, as you might not be familiar with the local language, or how such events are handled by the authorities. For instance, you might be expected to pay an instant fine, for which you would need cash.
Furthermore, not having adequate and appropriate insurance would only make worse an already difficult situation. So before you set off on your trip, check what insurance cover you have to determine whether or not you need to add to it.
According to gov.uk, all UK car insurance provides the minimum third party cover to drive in other EU countries. The map above highlights countries in the EU and EEA that most insurers will provide cover for – but you should always check your policy.
What to check with your insurer
- Check the level of cover you have for driving in the UK, i.e. fully comprehensive, third party fire & theft, or third party only.
- Verify the level of cover provided for the country you are planning to visit, and whether this is the same as on home soil or downgraded to liability only.
- Make sure that the policy covers the country you are driving in. Some countries that are in Europe but outside the EU, such as Switzerland or Norway, may not be covered by your policy.
- Look at how many days you are allowed to be away, as most insurers impose a limit of, say, 30 days’ cover for driving abroad. You might need to pay an additional premium if you are away longer.
- Check the options you have to boost the cover or extend the time period, if necessary. For instance, you might want to increase the level of cover, particularly if it’s basic third party.
- If you’re only driving in the EU for a short period, is there a temporary or short-term European car insurance policy on offer? This typically covers you for up to 28 days, and can be worthwhile if you’re only taking a single trip in the year.
- If you have breakdown cover in the UK, can this be extended to Europe? Being stranded on the roadside abroad, where you don’t speak the local lingo, could ruin a holiday. You might want to buy additional European breakdown cover.
Do I need a green card?
A green card is a certificate that acts as proof of insurance in Europe. In most countries this isn’t required any more due to the establishment of the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA), but you will need to take your insurance documents nonetheless.
You should check with your insurer whether you need a green card and if you do, make sure you get one before you trip. It could help when making a claim abroad, so take it with you and keep it safe with other documents while on your travels.
When to increase your cover
You may simply want to increase your cover for peace of mind, particularly if you only have third party insurance. Driving in an unfamiliar country can be nerve-wracking enough, without worrying about the level of your insurance cover.
Plus, if you find yourself running into difficulties, not having the correct cover could cause extra stress, financial difficulties, or even risk ruining your holiday if you were to be stranded.
Also consider the value of your car, and how expensive it is to repair, because if you suffer an accident that’s not your fault and you have the wrong insurance, you’ll be unable to make a claim for any repairs required and you could be left substantially out of pocket.
What to look out for
- Suitability of policy: If you are only likely to be driving on the Continent for a relatively short period, you may be able to get a temporary or short term European car insurance policy. This will typically cover you for between one and 28 days.
- Policy length: Most policies will impose a limit on the length of time you’ll be covered while driving abroad, which is usually 90 days.
- Extended cover small print: Always make sure you read the small print and double check, as this can vary across insurers. If you are planning on travelling for an extended period, ask whether you can have extended European car insurance.
- Countries cover is provided for: It sounds simple – Europe means Europe, doesn’t it – but some policies will only cover countries that are in the EU, for example.
What to do if you have an accident abroad?
If you should be unfortunate enough to have an accident abroad, the law of the country in which it took place will be applied. This also means that claiming compensation will probably have a different process than in the UK.
But what should you do if you are in an accident?
Firstly and most importantly, don’t leave the scene of the collision – it will be very difficult to claim if you do not get details from the other driver, and you may need to call the emergency services or the police if necessary.
Plus, you will need to fill in an accident report, which details the exact circumstances of the accident and who was involved. Your insurer will usually give you an accident statement form when you claim.
It’s good to know that insurers’ associations have developed a common form, called the ‘European Accident Statement’ which should help you quickly collect all the relevant information making it easier to make an insurance claim.
And if you don’t have an accident statement or an insurance form with you, make sure you write down:
- The date and place of the accident
- Any details of injuries, damage to cars and if possible witness and their details.
- The other driver’s contact and insurance details, including the registration number and make of the car involved.
- 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.
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Don’t forget short term insurance when making your travel plans
Have you considered the option of short term vehicle insurance before your international trip? Car insurance is a legal requirement in European countries such as the UK. There are a number of providers which can help you with your insurance cover, ranging from large insurance comparisons websites to independent specialists such as Dayinsure.
Short term car insurance providers Dayinsure
Is short term car insurance for me?
With increasing numbers of people travelling between the UK and the rest of Europe, here’s a reminder of a few scenarios where temporary vehicle insurance which might be able to help you:
- You have a UK licence or an EU licence and you want to take your UK-registered vehicle to Europe for a few days and then return back to the UK with it. For example, Dayinsure can provide comprehensive cover in the UK and in the EU, as long as your journey starts and finishes in the UK.
- You have a UK or EU driving licence and want to visit family or friends in another part of the UK. In particular, if you are a student, you might not want to own a car and instead of hiring a car, there might be a cost benefit to borrowing a car and arranging short term insurance on it in your own name.
- You have family/friends visiting you in the UK and you want them to be able to use your car for a few days. You could try speaking to your annual insurer to see if they are prepared to add a temporary additional driver to your policy – but it might well be quicker/simpler/cheaper to buy a separate short term policy for the visitor.
- In the event of a claim, the No Claim Discount (NCD) on the annual policy is unaffected by incidents involving the short term policyholder.
How long does it take to buy short term car insurance?
Dependent on the insurance provider, short term insurance can be bought online in a couple of minutes, with the insurance certificate emailed to your inbox.
For example with Dayinsure, policies are added daily to the Motor Insurance Database (MID), and all cover is comprehensive and underwritten by Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer.
Am I eligible for short term insurance?
Generally cover is available from 1 day to 28 days, to give you maximum flexibility and ensure you only pay for the cover you need.
The minimum age is 21 and the maximum is 75 – unless you have a provisional UK licence, in which case you’re eligible for other policies for example a Dayinsure Learner policy from aged 17 and over, to get additional driving practice before you take your test.
Stay legal and learn here more about the motor insurance directives in Europe
About Aleksej Heinze
Passport to Trade 2.0 project leader. My research interests are in the area of disruptive innovation using information technology (IT) and the use of IT in business management. Topics include: enterprise 2.0; web 2.0, international business culture, search engine optimisation, and social media marketing. View all posts by Aleksej Heinze →
Temporary Car Insurance
Benefits of Temporary Car Insurance
Temporary car insurance is fast, convenient and simple to buy. All our policies are underwritten by Aviva on a comprehensive basis, include business use cover and can start within 15 minutes of making a booking when you require car insurance for 1 hour, day, week or month.
We offer a range of optional extras such as comprehensive European cover, additional drivers and daily breakdown for all temp car insurance.
Our policies are standalone, so if you do have a claim there will be no impact on the No Claims Discount (NCD) on any annual policy. What’s more, all our policies for temporary car insurance in the UK come with free legal expenses cover, to protect your interests in the event of a non-fault incident.
Furthermore, we update the Motor Insurance Database (MID) 4 times a day, so you’re unlikely to be stopped by the police on suspicion of driving without insurance.
Uses of Dayinsure
Dayinsure is a great option when annual insurance doesn’t give you the flexibility you need, whether you require car insurance for a day or month. It proves handy when:
- Borrowing a car
- if you are either buying or selling a car and want to arrange a test drive.
- or if you need a bigger car for a particular journey.
- Adding a temporary additional driver to your car
- it’s a common misconception that all annual insurance policies cover driving other cars.
- many don’t provide any of this cover, and those that do often restrict to third party and the policyholder only.
- Making a Business trip
- another misconception is that annual insurance policies that cover commuting will allow business trips to any location – they won’t!
- commuting use only covers journeys to or from your regular place of work – potentially excluding cover if you visit a client, attend a training course or help out at a local branch.
- our temporary car insurance policies provide full business use (excluding the carriage of goods or passengers for hire or reward).
- Any other situation where you need one day car insurance, such as:
- where the annual policyholder gets taken ill and you need to take over the driving.
- needing to share driving on a long journey.
- taking a SORN vehicle for an MOT.
- driving a bigger vehicle to transport a piece of furniture.
- transporting friends to an event.
- where there’s a gap between one annual policy finishing and another one starting.
Who is Eligible?
Our temp car insurance can cover most drivers aged between 18 and 75 (subject to vehicle and underwriting criteria). From one day to one month car insurance, we are able to insure the majority of UK registered vehicles.
As well as UK licences, we can cover customers who hold a full EU, EEA, Australian, New Zealand, South African or Swiss driving licence and have done so for at least six months (reduced to three months, if aged over 25).
So, if you’re planning on coming to the UK or expecting visitors, temporary car insurance in the UK from Dayinsure could be a great option. Rather than hire a car for the trip, it might be easier (and cheaper!) to borrow cars throughout the duration of the visit when you need anything from one day to one month car insurance. Buy our insurance online as and when required.
What You’ll Need to Buy Short Term Car Insurance
For a temporary car insurance quote, you will need:
- your name, address, DOB, email and occupation.
- the registration number of the car that you want to drive.
- For non-UK licence holders, a passport number is required (NI and Isle of Man are also required).
We’ll display the car insurance price, then you decide:
- the duration (from 1 hour to 30 days).
- when you want the cover to start.
- whether you want any of our add-on options (such as breakdown or European cover).
Then to purchase your temp car insurance policy you’ll need:
- your driving licence number.
- Payment details (debit, credit card or PayPal).
That’s it – the whole journey takes a couple of minutes, and you could be behind the wheel in 15 minutes.
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 the UK, taking his car, for which he has a standard Slovenian insurance policy.
Once in the UK, he’ll need to register his car with the UK authorities and find out if he can drive on his Slovenian insurance. If not, he’ll have to take out new insurance in the UK.
Find out more about national regulations on car insurance
- Austria at deen
- Belgium be deenfrnl
- Bulgaria bg bgen
- Croatia hr
- Cyprus cy elen
- Czech Republic cz csen
- Denmark dk daen
- Estonia ee enet
- Finland fi enfisv
- France fr enfr
- Germany de deen
- Greece gr
- Hungary hu enhu
- Iceland is
- Ireland ie en
- Italy it enit
- Latvia lv
- Liechtenstein li en
- Lithuania lt enlt
- Luxembourg lu deenfr
- Malta mt enmt
- Netherlands nl ennl
- Norway no en
- Poland pl enpl
- Portugal pt enpt
- Romania ro enro
- Slovakia sk ensk
- Slovenia si
- Spain es
- Sweden se ensv
- United Kingdom gb en
* Information not yet provided by national authorities
The European Commission is not responsible for the content of external websites.
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.