The Green Card Insurance System
Understand how the international Green Card can act as recognisable proof of third party car insurance in case of road accidents while abroad...
The Green Card or International Motor Insurance Certificate is equivalent to the national motor insurance certificates of all of the countries a motorist visits. It is an internationally recognised document that is accepted by the authorities of all countries in which the Green Card is valid.
The Green Card System is managed by the Council of Bureaux in London.
It is essential when driving in the EU and certain other European countries (see the Association of British Insurers for details) to carry either the Green Card or a Certificate of Insurance. The Green Card can serve as easily recognisable proof of third party insurance, which is preferable in the event of an accident when travelling abroad.
The Green Card itself doesn't provide insurance cover, but does certify that the holder has at least the minimum compulsory Third Party insurance cover required by law in the countries visited. Insurance against other hazards, such as fire or theft abroad, should be applied for from the insurance company, who may demand a supplement if the existing cover is limited to the Member State in which the vehicle is registered.
For visits by motorists to countries participating in the Green Card System, the Green Card is not a required document, since it is substituted by the national vehicle registration plates of those countries. These countries are the Member Countries of the European Union plus Andorra, Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. It is still advisable to carry the Green Card when travelling abroad.
In Gibraltar, Monaco, Liechtenstein and San Marino, the same situation normally applies.
The national registration plates of the countries signify to the authorities of the country that the car is insured in respect only for Third Party liabilities for which insurance is compulsory.
It is recommended to discuss the following with the insurer:
- what, if any, insurance documentation is necessary for the countries to be visited
- the extent of the cover provided by the existing motor insurance policies for the countries to be visited
- the procedure to be followed in the event of an accident in a visited country
Other countries are party to the Green Card arrangements (either require a Green Card or purchase insurance at the border).
Currently these are:
- Belarus, Albania, Moldavia, Morocco, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania, Bulgaria, Tunisia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Iran, Ukraine, Israel, Union State of Serbia and Montenegro (Kosovo, while regarded as a part of Serbia, is in effect under the control of the United Nations. Green Cards are not available for Kosovo and border car insurance must be purchased)
Having signed an Agreement called the Uniform Agreement, Germany participates in the Green Card System with all foreign Bureaux members, with the exception of Turkey.
Where to Get a Green Card
The insurer who issued the motor insurance policy can issue the green card. It is normally free of charge, or there may be a small administrative fee.
In the event of an accident abroad, immediately contact the insurer or their representative in the country concerned. The Green Card gives details of the local Green Card Bureau.
If the accident was caused by an uninsured or unidentifiable car, the victim is entitled, under Community law, to compensation from the motor vehicle guarantee fund of the Member State in which the accident occurred. This is in accordance with the rules in force in that Member State.
New rules have been introduced to ensure that motorists get rapid compensation for accidents, regardless of where they are in the EU. This has made procedures easier and settling claims quicker, with fines being charged on late payments. This applies not only to accidents that happen in the EU, but also to accidents between two EU parties in a country outside the EU but which belongs to the Green Card System.