Expat guide to International Car Insurance

When relocating to another country, having a car is a great benefit, especially in more rural locations, or even in cities to make the most of day trips at weekends to see more of the region.
Whether exporting a car from the UK or buying a new one, there are certain essentials that need to be considered. For example, checking that a British licence is valid, getting breakdown cover, understanding the rules of the road and so on. One thing that is key is having the right car insurance in place, so that the car is covered for accidents, theft and damage from the outset.
Car insurance policies vary from country to country, so it’s important to do some research before a move and get a suitable policy in place.

UK car insurance policies

In many countries, particularly within the EU, a UK car insurance policy is valid for short trips. This is useful for taking a car over for pre-move visits when scouting the area, looking for accommodation, and having initial meetings or interviews. It’s worth checking directly with the policy provider, but in many cases protection will only extend to basic third-party cover. There is also usually a limitation on the duration of the trip. It is possible to contact the policy provider and pay to upgrade the policy to a more comprehensive international package for the duration of the intended trip.
Some countries will require proof of insurance to be carried at all times, and it is wise to have a copy of the details in the car in any case, should there be an accident or incident. This can be the original documents, although a Green Card is recognised in many locations as proof of insurance. This is a free card that can be requested from most policy providers. It is widely accepted within the EU (although it’s not always mandatory) and elsewhere, but there is a requirement to carry proof of insurance in certain places, such as Turkey, the Ukraine and Russia.

Buying insurance abroad

When the time comes to relocate permanently, or for a significant period of time, a local insurance policy will be needed. Sometimes a work relocation package will include a company car as part of the deal, and this usually includes insurance. Also, it may be possible to rent a car to start off with and, again, this often includes insurance.
However, bringing across a car from the UK or buying one locally, means exploring local insurance options. In order to register a car, a minimum of third-party cover is normally required.
Just as in the UK, it pays to shop around and get quotes from a number of different providers. Co-workers or fellow expats may be able to give advice on the best companies to try, and word of mouth can count for a lot when looking for a reliable company. It is worth getting the highest level of cover possible, as driving conditions can be very different. A comprehensive package that also includes a courtesy car, is worth its weight in gold if an accident occurs.
Cost varies, just like UK policies, as factors like driving experience, type of car and type of driver, age and where the car will be kept (off road, in a garage, etc) will all be taken into account. It is not always a guarantee that an international insurance company will accept a UK driver’s record, which could lead to higher premiums initially.
However, it is certainly a necessary expense and one that needs sorting early on in the relocation process.
Information correct at the time of publication.