Validity of motor insurance in the EU

Validity of compulsory and optional insurance

When you register a vehicle in an EU country, you must take out civil liability insurance. This compulsory insurance is valid in all other EU countries. It covers you in the event of an accident resulting in property damage or bodily injury to anyone other than the driver. It does not cover other costs (for example, the cost of repairing your own vehicle).

You can also take out optional supplementary insurance, called main party liability, to cover other risks. This insurance extends your coverage (for example, to driver damage, damage to your vehicle, theft of your vehicle or its contents, acts of vandalism and legal aid).

There is no European regulation governing optional supplementary insurance. Check the general conditions with your insurer before travelling abroad. Insurers may apply different rules in each country. For example, they may impose a time limit (e. g. one month abroad) or distance limit (e. g. up to 150 km from the border of your home country), or exclude certain countries for certain types of risks (such as theft).

Car insurance in your host country

You must register your vehicle in the country in which you are ordinarily resident. Registration is not mandatory in your host country if you can prove that you are staying there temporarily only, for example as a student.

For registration, you must present proof that your vehicle is insured.

Registration authorities are required to accept the insurance policy of any insurance company, provided that:

  • whether it has its headquarters in the country or has an agency there;
  • Failing that, that it be allowed to provide services there.

In principle, you can also insure your car in an EU country other than your country of residence. But don’t forget to check if the company offers international services.

Buying insurance abroad

Your insurance contract is not valid in the country in which you are moving or will expire if you re-register your vehicle: contact the national information centres or green card offices to find out which insurance companies operate in that country.

Premiums and insurance history

Motor vehicle insurance premiums vary from one Member State to another, mainly due to differences between national contract laws and risk assessment and compensation regimes, or to complex and costly international claims settlement procedures.

In some EU countries, your history may affect your insurance premiums. This is called the bonus-malus system. If you do not report any claims during the year, your insurer may grant you a discount when you renew your contract. However, in the event of a claim, he may ask you to pay more.

You can ask your insurer at any time for a statement of information outlining your history over the past five years as an insured. The insurer must provide you with this document within 15 days.

However, if you need to take out new insurance in another EU country, you should be aware that your new insurer is not required to take your background into account (or to grant you any reduction you may receive as a result) when calculating your insurance premium.

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