How to insure your car abroad?

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How to insure your car abroad?

 In the event of departure abroad, it may be necessary to take out local car insurance, when that contracted in France is no longer valid. Many countries require, as in France, membership of a minimum legal liability guarantee to cover accident victims. The length of stay is an important criterion in determining the nature of the coverage required, as is the choice of country and local legislation. In order not to find yourself in violation of the law of the country of destination, we explain everything to you!


When should you consider insuring your car abroad?

There are various reasons for staying in a foreign country, some of which involve driving a land motor vehicle in the destination country. It is therefore essential to take certain precautions in terms of auto insurance, since many countries require the subscription of a minimum auto insurance, as in France.

In which cases can you have to insure your car abroad?

Driving a vehicle, whether French or foreign, may be necessary when leaving for another country. Some individuals wish to maintain their autonomy in this way when others use it to achieve a specific route. It can be daily or occasional use, but any situation means purchasing auto insurance. It is then possible, in the context of a departure abroad, to highlight the following situations:

  • Vacation, whatever the length.
  • Expatriation: to be different from a simple vacation, it generally implies a departure for a professional activity in the country of destination.
  • Studies abroad.
  • A departure for personal or family reasons.

How to plan your trip in terms of auto insurance?

In general, it is still necessary to take certain precautions in order to make your car insurance work as well as possible abroad , even if the latter is French and you are in one of the countries mentioned by your  green card. auto insurance . You will then have to take this document with you and keep your insurance certificate stuck on your windshield.

You must also bring an amicable report, possibly pre-filled, but which will not have the same value depending on the country you are going to (works in European Union countries). The insurance certificate is also an essential document, as is a possible rider adding a guarantee to your contract. Finally, it is a question of taking into account the countries crossed to reach your final destination, for which you must also be covered by the appropriate car insurance.

How to buy auto insurance for a vacation?

The length of time for which you will stay in the country concerned greatly determines the nature of the auto insurance to be taken out . For European Union (EU) countries, if the stay lasts less than 6 months (for holidays for example), you are considered a French resident and can operate your original car insurance, while keeping your registration .

In all other cases, you will be considered a foreign resident (expatriate) and will have to cover your car with a local insurer (you can contact your embassy or consulate to obtain contact details). You will then have a local registration, even if it is a vehicle imported from France.

For your vacation, it is quite possible that you decide to rent a vehicle on site and the rental company will automatically include local car insurance in the contract. Its price will be directly reflected in the cost of the rental and you can use your car serenely for your stay in the country.

How to pay less for international auto insurance?

Before departure , the best way to find out about your car insurance as part of your stay abroad is still to ask your insurer in France what arrangements to make for the country in question. He will be able to tell you if your French guarantees can apply for holidays in the country of destination and if exclusions of guarantees exist.

On site , you can seek advice from the local embassy or the country's consulate. These official administrations can give you the contact details of local insurers and inform you about the mandatory legal framework for auto insurance.

You can use an auto insurance comparator to find out the preferential rates of French insurance companies. Not all of them offer the same contracts and their performance can be decisive, as can their price.  Online auto insurance broker , Reassure me provides you with its own auto insurance comparator to help you in your efforts. You will thus have easy access to the rates of many insurers with complete transparency and objectivity.

The termination of your auto insurance may also be possible if your stay abroad means that you take your French car with you and that your original guarantees cannot work. In this case, you will no longer have any use for your French coverage and you can terminate it under the existing terms. A departure abroad represents a change in personal situation (moving), which is a valid reason for termination insofar as the risk covered is modified.

What guarantees for auto insurance abroad?

Several options are possible to insure your vehicle in a foreign country, all depending on various factors that should be taken into consideration.

Use your French car insurance abroad

One of the simplest solutions to insure your car in another country is to make your French auto insurance work. The duration must however be limited and not all countries are concerned. France has in fact entered into agreements, through a multilateral guarantee convention, with some of them in order to facilitate the use of the vehicle.

The green insurance card given to you by your insurer shows a precise list of the countries concerned . These are normally the countries of the European Union (EU) plus a few others such as Switzerland, Norway or Iceland for example. In this way, you simplify your procedures by having no need to take out specific car insurance on site.

Map of the 28 EU member states

The classic guarantees of French auto insurance

In France, auto insurance is compulsory for all land motor vehicles, with the minimum of a  liability guarantee , even for a car no longer running. However, you have the choice between several levels of guarantees to extend the desired coverage and protect you and your vehicle, in addition to possible victims of a loss.

The 3 main levels of protection are: third party insurance, intermediate insurance and comprehensive insurance . All customizable by adding additional guarantees. The following table shows the terms of application of these three insurances:

Type of guaranteesExplanations
Third party insuranceMinimum level of legal protection, even for a vehicle that is no longer running, by the presence of the Civil Liability guarantee, making it possible to compensate a third party for bodily injury or material damage.
Intermediate insuranceAlso called third party insurance +, this cover takes into account the liability guarantee as well as, depending on the contracts, the guarantees covering theft and fires. Customizable by adding additional guarantees.
Back to back insuranceThe most complete cover, with liability guarantees, and often guarantees against theft, vandalism, fire, but also the personal guarantee of the driver, which allows to compensate the latter in addition to third parties for a loss of which it would be. responsible.
Additional guaranteesSeveral additional guarantees are available to personalize your contract. There are in particular: the driver's personal guarantee, broken glass, 0 km repair or assistance, legal protection, natural disasters, third-party collision, damage to all accidents, or even bad weather.

The legal framework of international auto insurance

The subscription of a car insurance in good standing must imperatively be done before entering the country of destination , a provision which can be taken directly at the border. In the event of French coverage, it is necessary to study precisely the application of the guarantees of your contract. It turns out that French auto insurance is limited when you use it abroad.

This is how a driver with comprehensive insurance in France will probably end up with third party insurance in another country. In addition, the insured must know precisely the assistance services available, such as repatriation and accommodation in the event of immobilization of the vehicle. A departure abroad for a vacation generally implies  exclusions of cover, particularly with regard to the coverage of damage to the driver and assistance services normally operating in France.

Regarding local insurance, it is preferable to inquire directly with your embassy or consulate in order to know the prerequisites and legal obligations in this matter. Here are some examples of regulations for foreign countries:

  • Spain: as a member country of the EU, Spain makes it compulsory to take out auto insurance and allows the automatic existence of civil liability coverage via French coverage.
  • England: as a country that is no longer a member of the EU with Brexit, England makes it compulsory to take out auto insurance in England (we recommend that you use the SAFE auto insurance comparator ). Small advice, if you have a bonus in France, you must ask your insurance for a proof of no claim bonus.
  • United States: Likewise, the liability guarantee constitutes the legal minimum, although an international driving license is required to insure on the spot.
  • China: Auto insurance is also compulsory and you can subscribe to the local equivalent of the liability cover.

International temporary auto insurance

It is possible to take out temporary car insurance in France, for a period corresponding to that of the stay there . You will thus have the possibility of benefiting from adequate cover during the period of your vacation. This provision remains relatively limited insofar as French car insurance does not allow access to all the guarantees provided in the event of departure abroad, even temporarily.

The duration of the cover must also be short, as temporary auto insurance is often possible within the limit of 90 days. However, it remains a possibility for certain situations and leaves the possibility of subscribing directly in France and keeping its original registration.

How much does car insurance cost abroad?

Depending on the auto insurance chosen to cover the affected vehicle in a foreign country, the cost can vary significantly and be very different from state to state. Thus, the price of the insurance of a motorhome will not be the same as that of a Clio!

The cost of car insurance in the European Union

In the event that you stay less than 6 months in an EU country, the French car insurance works and you will then not need to pay any amount to insure yourself on the spot. The contributions paid in France will then be sufficient to protect you properly for the country of destination.
It all depends on the countries concerned by the multilateral guarantee agreement (the countries indicated on your green auto insurance card). While the EU is the main developed area, other relatively close countries such as Andorra and Switzerland also have specific agreements with France.

An additional cost for international auto insurance

In case you join the EU zone for more than 6 months or even a country outside the EU zone , then you will need to take out local auto insurance. This independent membership obviously involves an additional cost which will have to be paid to a local insurer, whose contact details can also be given to you by your insurance company in France, your embassy on site or your consulate if applicable.

It is very important for you as a driver to be covered at least by the legal minimum of auto insurance in force in the country in question.It is very risky to violate a law that is little or not known. The penalties that can be taken against you can be very severe and harm you during your stay. In particular, you may have to pay a hefty fine, spend a few days in prison, or be expelled from the country without the possibility of returning.

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