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I have a UK driving licence and travel outside Europe often, including to the US and Australia. I do not, however, own a car.

How can I get insured to drive other people's cars in other countries, including countries outside Europe?

I am not talking about cars I may hire, which may come with insurance, but friends cars I am given permission to drive in the US or Australia (for example).

Third party cover is adequate, though policies providing greater coverage (e.g. liability to the car owner) would be considered.

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    Do you intend the policy to only fulfill the local requirements (so that you do not violate the law of mandatory insurances) or do you intend to protect yourself? e.g. the minimum insurance in some US states is as low as $25,000.
    – xngtng
    Nov 23, 2023 at 11:07
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    "Any car in any country" is a tall order. Most insurance coverage will exclude at least some countries.
    – phoog
    Nov 23, 2023 at 11:57
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    Do you want a policy for yourself, or do you want your friends to take out insurance that covers you?
    – Stuart F
    Nov 23, 2023 at 14:12
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    The simple actual answer to your question is that there is no such universal global product offered. You have to attend to the issue separately and differently in each country. That's all there is to it - "You can't".
    – Fattie
    Nov 23, 2023 at 17:49
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    Is there any country apart from the UK where it is common for car insurance to be linked to the driver rather than the vehicle? I have only encountered this in the UK, personally. In other words, are you sure you need to do anything at all, in any country?
    – terdon
    Nov 24, 2023 at 13:29

7 Answers 7

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At least here in Australia, all (?) car insurance policies permit other people to occasionally drive the car and still be covered by insurance, so you don't need to do anything. The main caveats are:

  • Driving without a valid license would invalidate the insurance. Not an issue for you, a UK license is fine in Australia if you're only visiting.
  • Drivers have to be explicitly listed if they are "regular" drivers of the car. I'm sure there's tons of litigation trying to nail down what that means, but if you're a tourist in town for few weeks, I very much doubt this would be an issue.

Of course, this also means you're at the mercy of your friend's insurance when it comes to policy payouts, medical coverage etc. Unlikely to be a problem in Australia, where as a UK citizen you get reciprocal free Medicare coverage anyway, but you'd want to double check this in the US.

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    It works the same in Spain.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 23, 2023 at 20:07
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This is going to depend on the country, your age and (probably) how long you've had your license. But based on mentioning the US and Australia, here are two random websites I pulled up:

USA (AllState Insurance)

Contrary to popular belief, car insurance typically follows the car — not the driver.

So, the car would be insured. However, you would likely need to have authorization in order that the insurance company doesn't come at you.

Australia (Savvy - who I've never heard of)

In Australia you can usually let anyone drive your car as long as they have a valid driving licence, even if they aren’t listed on your car insurance policy. However, if the person regularly drives your car and is not listed on your insurance policy, you risk potential coverage issues in the event of an accident.

So in theory you should be formally listed on the policy to be fully protected.

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    The same is true in Canada. Nov 22, 2023 at 21:41
  • This answer is correct: the answer to the OP's query will depend on what country it is and what circumstances attend the use of the car (ownership, duration, etc.) Nov 23, 2023 at 17:27
  • "need to have authorization" – can you clarify from whom the authorization is required? Is it an explicit permission from the insurance company, or (as I suspect you mean) from the owner of the vehicle, without whose permission to operate the vehicle the insurance would be rendered invalid. Nov 23, 2023 at 18:18
  • @CosmicOssifrage Yes, from the owner. Because if you take a car without permission of the owner, and crash it, then the owner's insurance company would have a reason to come after you in order to pay back what they have paid out to the owner - assuming they did pay out. If they didn't pay out, then the owner would be coming after you instead. Either way, you're responsible for the damage you caused.
    – Peter M
    Nov 23, 2023 at 19:48
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In Germany, the insurance also follows the car.

Some insurances allow for additional drivers within reason, but others are limited to family, having a license for X years, being Y years of age or similar restrictions.

Your personal insurance idea is possible however, to insure drivers that would be uninsured by the cars "main" policy.

It is usually easier to ask the insurer to add you to the plan temporarily as they often do for little to no charge

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I can speak for Poland.

Poland

Third party liability insurance is assigned to a given vehicle, not a specific driver. This means that if we lend the car to another person and he or she causes a collision or road accident, the losses incurred by the injured party will be covered by the insurance company under our policy.

source

I lived in UK for a while and it was shocking to me that insurance was attached to the driver and not the car.

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    Many UK car insurance policies do cover other drivers but only third party (ie, they will pay for damage you do to other people's things, but not to the car)
    – MJeffryes
    Nov 23, 2023 at 11:32
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    @MJeffryes Many insurance policies in other European countries are 3rd party only in all regards. My certainly is. It is not worth paying for the extra insurance for my own damage to my own car if it is old, it just costs too much and pays too little. The obligatory insurance is 3rd party only. For a borrowed car that means that one would have to pay for the damage one did to the car to the car's owner. A different kind of insurance as pointed out by xngtng could cover that. Nov 23, 2023 at 12:37
  • @VladimirFГероямслава Yes, it is the same in the UK: only third party is mandatory. So for policies which cover any driver in addition to named drivers, typically only the mandatory component is valid.
    – MJeffryes
    Nov 23, 2023 at 14:21
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If your goal is to protect yourself from financial liabilities (instead of legal responsibility, i.e., to avoid getting charged with driving without insurance), you may also be able to get a supplementary insurance for yourself.

It may be known as third-party driver insurance, non-owner car insurance, etc. It is generally not a substitute of the legal insurance required for the vehicles.

Depending on your country, some insurance companies may offer you coverage as the driver of a vehicle of a third party, subject to certain conditions which vary by each policy and may include among others:

  • you maintain your main residence in the country of the insurance company;
  • the value of the driven vehicle does not exceed certain threshold;
  • you do not drive more than certain days out of a certain period (e.g. more than 30 days within 6 months)
  • the weight of the vehicle is under a certain threshold, or other conditions on the type of vehicles;
  • the vehicle is owned by a private individual and lent on a non-commercial basis;
  • any mandatory or other insurance must be used first;
  • certain high-risk jurisdictions may be excluded;
  • and almost universally, you hold a valid, recognized driving licence within the jurisdiction where you are driving.

It may or may not be included, or available as an option, from your auto insurance or civil liability insurance. Again, like all insurances, you should carefully read the terms and conditions, notably the limitations and exclusions of the coverage.

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The friend's car would have to have insurance to cover this - it could be arranged with a phone call - but there is no way you can have this pre-arranged as a 'global cover-all'. There is simply no international legislation in place to allow it.

Potentially inside a single jurisdiction such as the EU, though I've never seen any specific cover designed for that [even when my home country, the UK, was part of the EU.]

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In Germany, my standard liability insurance covers damages I would cause by using others peoples cars (even though that is also covered by the car insurance of the specific car). You could look into liability insurances, but this is probably very specific and limitations for other countries might apply.

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    Is that a car liability insurance or a general one that also covers you pets and kids (of you have them) causing damage?
    – Willeke
    Nov 24, 2023 at 11:56
  • It's a general liability insurance covering damage i or my kid cause, but pets are insured separately. It's called Haftpflichtversicherung in German. The car is insured separately as well.
    – Lehue
    Nov 25, 2023 at 13:08
  • In that case this is a valid answer to this question, as OP asked as 'not a car owner'. Thanks.
    – Willeke
    Nov 25, 2023 at 15:01

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