Overseas Auto Insurance For American Cars Abroad

It’s actually not that uncommon for Americans to take their cars abroad with them when they relocate, whether temporarily or permanently. While the actual task of importing the car abroad can be a frigging nightmare, the act of actually getting the car from shore to shore isn’t really hard to do. I’ll do articles on all of these topics – but right now I want to explain the car insurance aspect.

Note: If you’re military or government, there are other options available to you, and they are cheaper. Don’t go this route unless you’re a civilian.

The Basics:

  • You need to have the insurance policy BEFORE you leave the US -- If you’re picking your car up at the port by yourself, you will need to show customs that you have current car insurance. The same thing applies if you’re having it overlanded to your specific destination - you’ll need insurance before you can drive it.

  • Who offers international car insurance? -- Not many companies, unfortunately. When I did it in 2003, Geico Overseas was the only one who did. Yes, the Gecko people. A quick Google seems to indicate they’re still the best choice. Clements seems like an alternate possibility, but I don’t have personal experience with them.

  • What coverage do I get? Comprehensive / collision / third party liability coverage for all of Europe, and a few other countries as well. Because of war (really…) the coverage is liable to change occasionally. But that’s ok, you probably won’t be sad to learn you can’t holiday in Iraq right now.

  • How much does it cost? A whole lot more than your regular policy. Really, you could be paying 800 bucks a month depending on what kind of car you have. Even if you have a 30 year history of perfect driving, you’re going to pay a small fortune to take your car overseas.

  • Sounds like it might not be worth it. And it may not be. But, if you have a 2 year old car that’s going to lose a whole lot more in re-sale value, it might still be cost effective for you. That’s why I did it.

  • How do I get a quote? You have to do it over the phone, as they don’t have an online system for this yet. They do have an online method for making your overseas insurance payments, though.

Tips:

  1. Many travel agencies in Europe offer travel auto insurance for foreigners. In some cases, their rates may actually be cheaper than Geico. You could always drop by an office and see if you can’t get a better deal – and cancel your Geico for a refund.

  2. If you manage to get non-travel auto insurance at your destination (this is not something you can do before your car has been given local plates) you can always cancel your Geico policy and get refunded.

  3. Geico can insure your car while it’s on the ocean liner – and so can the shipping company you’re using. Don’t waste your money by double-insuring, see who’s offering you the cheaper rate.

And don’t skip that insurance – the week my car was in transit an entire ocean liner of new BMW’s sank, which forced my ship to be rerouted to Antwerp instead of Amsterdam. It happens. Don’t forgo this insurance, in most cases the insurance is cheap and overvalues your car – no excuse for not having it!

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