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 and Brussels.
It is not essential for an EU citizen to have a Green Card when travelling within the EU and certain other European countries, though if you do not take one you should instead carry your Certificate of Insurance. However, a Green Card can serve as easily recognisable proof of third party insurance, for example in the case of an accident, when travelling abroad.
The Green Card itself doesn't provide insurance cover but does certify that you have at least the minimum compulsory third party insurance cover required by law in the countries you visit. However, if you also want insurance against other hazards, such as fire or theft abroad, the insurance company is entitled to demand a supplement if your cover is limited to the Member State in which you reside.
Where to Get a Green Card
You can get your Green Card from the insurer who issued your motor insurance policy. It is normally free of charge, but there may be a small administrative fee.
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, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland.
The national registration plates of the countries signify to the authorities of the country that your car is insured in respect only for third party liabilities for which insurance is compulsory. You are therefore urged to find out from your insurers:
- What, if any, insurance documentation is necessary for the countries you intend to visit
- The extent of the cover provided by your own motor insurance policies for the countries you intend to visit
- The procedure to be followed in the event of an accident in a visited country
Other countries are party to the Green Card arrangements (you will either need to have a Green Card or purchase insurance at the border).
- List of member countries
If you are involved in an accident abroad, immediately contact your insurer or your insurer's representative in the country concerned. The Green Card gives details of the local Green Card Bureau, but it remains important to contact your car insurer or your insurer's representatives.
If the accident was caused by an uninsured or unidentifiable car, you are 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.