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What does European car insurance cover?

5 minutes

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Picture this: Sunglasses on, wind in your hair, a view over the Amalfi coast... and you're driving stress-free because you know you're covered to drive abroad

  • Always check your car insurance details carefully to see what level of cover you can expect when you drive abroad
  • Don't assume your UK policy will provide the same level of cover in Europe as it does in the UK... There's a big chance it won't
  • If your journey takes you abroad, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP)to hit the road. You can check with the Post Office

What kind of licence do you need to drive abroad?

You can use your GB or Northern Ireland driving licence in all European Union or European Economic Area Countries, including Switzerland.

If your journey takes you abroad, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to hit the road. You can check with the Post Office. This, together with your driving licence allows you to drive a private vehicle in that country.

How old do you need to be to drive abroad?

In many European countries, you need to be 18 and/or hold a full UK licence to drive there and for new or young drivers there may be restrictions on the number of passengers they can carry or how much alcohol they can have in their bloodstream.

Do you need specific European car insurance?

Yes. Like the UK, European countries require you to have a minimum level of car insurance before you take to the public roads.

The requirements can vary from one country to another, but at the very least, you will need third party cover.

As long as you already have UK comprehensive car insurance or third party, fire and theft insurance, your policy should provide at least the minimum level of cover required when you drive in Europe.

But don't assume your UK policy will provide the same level of cover in Europe as it does in the UK. If you have comprehensive cover in the UK, your insurer may only provide third party cover in Europe as part of your policy.

Third party insurance provides cover for other people and vehicles involved in an accident that is your fault, but it won't provide cover for you.

This could leave you seriously out of pocket if your car is damaged whilst you're away. Not to mention spoiling or curtailing your holiday.

For peace of mind, check to see if your car insurance policy already covers you to drive in Europe. If necessary, ask your insurance company to extend your comprehensive insurance to cover you whilst driving in Europe or add it on as an optional extra.


Is European car insurance comprehensive?

  1. Check your car insurance details carefully to see what level of cover you can expect when you drive abroad.
  2. Sometimes your insurer provides European cover as standard or will temporarily add European cover for free for a specific period of time.
  3. If you want comprehensive cover in Europe, but your insurer doesn't provide it as standard (they may only offer third party), call your provider to ask them to extend your cover. You'll probably need to pay a bit extra for this.
  4. Make sure the insurance covers you for all the countries you want to visit and for the full length of time you plan to be away.
With LV= you can get the same level of cover in Europe as you have in the UK, for up to 180 days. This means that if you have comprehensive car insurance with us in the UK, you'll have the same cover automatically when you drive abroad.


Do I need a Green Card to drive abroad?

Although you still need valid insurance, you don't need to carry a Green Card when driving in the EU (including Ireland). Please check an authoritative body to make sure you meet the requirements to drive in that country. In some countries you may need to register a caravan or trailer you’re towing .

In some countries you may still require a Green Card for a caravan or trailer you’re towing - even if you don't need one for your car. At LV= we’ll issue you a Green Card for your caravan or trailer.

Want to experience the thrill of the open road abroad? We don't blame you, just make sure you're properly covered first...

Do I need European breakdown cover?

Yes, when driving abroad, you'll need to make sure you have European breakdown cover.

With LV=, this cover means:

  • We'll do whatever we can to fix your vehicle at the roadside
  • We'll offer you overnight accommodation or a hire car if repairs can't be completed in time for your return journey
  • We'll be there 24/7 with English-speaking breakdown assistance from our UK call centre
  • We'll arrange repatriation of your vehicle back to the UK if it’s not fixed in time for your return journey
  • We'll sort alternative travel arrangements if you break down before your trip or when in Europe

What should you have in your car to help if you break down in Europe?

  • Make sure your GB sticker or number plate is visible
  • Take your car insurance documents, Green Card and driving licence with you
  • Have a High-Vis jacket for every person
  • Pack a red warning triangle
  • Check you have a spare wheel or tyre repair kit
  • Have spare light bulbs
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