If you're planning a foreign driving holiday, should you hire a car abroad or take your own? Rental car insurance abroad can be confusing, otherwise you don't want to worry about insurance on your holiday.
Nothing can spoil a break quite like a hefty bill. So if you're taking your own car, it's important to know the limitations of your insurance.
When it comes to defining driving abroad, your car insurance refers to 'territorial limits', which are the home countries where your insurance is valid.
For AA car insurance customers, the policy booklet lists the territorial limits as:
"Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands and the Republic of Ireland including transit by sea, air or land within and between these places".
What about my car insurance abroad?
As well as the territorial limits, most car insurance policies provide temporary cover abroad. This level will be compulsory cover or possibly full or extended cover. You'll also need a Green Card from your insurer.
Compulsory cover and full cover are subject to your car being registered to a permanent UK address.
Compulsory cover is where the insurer provides the minimum legal cover that allows you or a permitted driver to use the insured car in another country.
The European Union 2009 motor insurance directive says that all motor vehicles within the EU must at least be covered by compulsory third party insurance. Insured vehicles can then be driven between EU countries without border checks.
New rules for UK drivers travelling in the EU came into effect on 1 January 2021, and you now need a Green Card to prove you have compulsory cover.
Full or extended cover
Our car insurance gives you the same level of cover abroad as you have within the territorial limits. This full or extended cover lasts for up to 90 days and can be taken as a single trip or series of trips.
The cover starts when you enter one of these countries, and can be spent in any combination of them. However, you'll also need a Green Card to show you have the minimum legal cover.
We also insure your car while it's being transported between countries by sea, air or rail on journeys lasting no more than 65 hours. And if you do have to make a claim within the 90-day period, the cost of delivering your car back to a UK address will be covered by us.
The car insurance Green Card
If you drive abroad from 1 January 2021, a Green Card s required in addition to your Certificate of Motor Insurance, plus the log book (V5C) for the vehicle.
The Green Card (or International Motor Insurance Card) is an internationally recognised document that shows that you have the minimum insurance cover needed by law in the country you're visiting.
If you have car insurance with the AA and are planning to drive to the Republic of Ireland or Europe, find out how to get a Green Card.
What are the limits on my car insurance abroad?
The level and duration of full or extended cover differ among insurance providers. Some like the AA provide 90 days, but others offer more or fewer days or no extended cover at all. So always check your policy before travelling.
Or if you're going to a country not listed in your policy, tell your insurer to see if they can provide cover. If they can, you'll also need a Green Card.
Hiring a car
If you do decide to leave the car at home, we have some helpful advice about hiring a car abroad.
As well as insurance, we've got heaps more info on driving abroad, from the documents you'll need to tips on keeping safe, and of course which side of the road to drive on.
Published 20 July 2018. Updated 2 February 2021.