International Car Insurance: What You Need to Know

International Car Insurance

Here is a misunderstood car rental scenario:  you walk off your plane in a new foreign country, hop into a cab, and head straight to the local car rental company.  Once inside, you go over to a smiling clerk who gladly helps you with the minimal documents needed to rent a car. 

Unfortunately, it is almost never like that, unless you are either the President or a mulch-millionaire.  In many countries, car insurance is required to even rent a car.  The easiest (and cheapest, if you travel often) way to get car coverage is to get international car insurance.  This will make sure that you have insurance wherever you go.

However, even international car insurance is not a simple thing to get and maintain.  There are a number of different things to do or not do when you drive outside your home country.  In this article, we will touch on seven of these things, although there are many more that can be researched and found out.  

Are You Covered?

When you are planning your trip abroad and want to either hire a car or drive your own (depending on where you are headed), it is essential that you give your insurance agent a call and check what level of coverage you might have or whether you actually have any at all.

You Might Be Un-Insured

It seems quite likely these days that due to a change of policy with the majority of insurance companies, and also as a result of cutbacks in the level of cover being offered to save money, you are more likely to not be covered than to have the luxury of car insurance that extends to a foreign land.

A good example of this would be North American car insurers who rarely provide insurance outside of their region; so check it out before you go.

International Car Insurance

Car Rental Insurance

The vast majority of us choose to hire a rental car when we go abroad and unfortunately too many of us also do not pay enough attention to the terms or level of coverage being offered by the rental company at the desk. It is much better to know what your existing car or travel insurance policy covers you for already before you sign up to a host of extras that bump up the final bill and are just doubling up on what you are already covered for or simply do not need.

Check Your Credit Card

It is unlikely that your car insurance will cover you for driving in Europe but you may have some sort of international car insurance or deal in place that comes as part of a package with your credit card. It is also worth checking with them as well as your insurance broker to see what you are covered for. Knowing if you have even some basic coverage for damage or breakdown will help you to keep the rental costs down by refusing what you do not need to pay for.

Check Out The Local Rules

Although the car rental company should provide you with a guide or even make sure that your car is carrying the right equipment on board to comply with the local laws, it is always a great idea to check out any major differences by searching the Internet. Travelers to France, for example, must comply with a whole host of laws and restrictions and the local police enforce the terms with a great deal of enthusiasm so if you want to have a trouble free trip and avoid paying a fine, you are best checking out the details before you actually travel.


Make sure that you bring everything that you think you might need and of course that will include the essential items such as your driving license details, as you are not going to get very far without it. Some countries also require you to carry additional paperwork and even require you to have safety wear in the form of a high visibility jacket somewhere in the car, to be used if you break down by the side of the road.

Be Prepared

Traveling abroad can be a great adventure and hopefully trouble free, but the key to a successful journey is to prepare yourself before you travel. That way you can be confident that you won’t get on the wrong side of the tracks when it comes to international car insurance or subtle violations of  driving laws while in a foreign country.

Gillian Kearney is a car insurance consultant. Her articles mainly appear on automotive and insurance blogs. Visit the Monkey.co.uk site for more information.

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