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This guide is about whether you need insurance for your car in Spain and the types of motor insurance available in Spain.
As in most countries, all motor vehicles in Spain must be insured. There is a fine (maximum €3,000) or imprisonment for driving without insurance. More importantly, all the damage and injuries caused will be your legal responsibility.
There are various ways in which insurance can be achieved and a variety of types of insurance available.
Insuring your foreign-registered car in Spain
If you are a visitor driving a foreign-registered car in Spain, it must be insured in the country where it is registered. You cannot obtain insurance for it in Spain.
Motorists insured in an EU country, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland are automatically covered for third-party liability when using their overseas-insured car in Spain. You do not need a Green Card. Check how long you are covered for. Some companies will only cover you for 90 days of foreign travel, others for six months. This is important if you intend to make long visits to Spain (or several visits in a year). Topping up that cover is usually ridiculously expensive, so it is better to make sure your policy gives you what you need from the outset.
You should always carry your proof of insurance (and your driving licence and your vehicle registration document) when driving.
It is a good idea also to carry proof of the amount of time you have been in Spain. Boarding cards are usually a good option. These will ensure that you do not end up having an argument if you are stopped by the police.
If you are resident in Spain (meaning that you spend more than 182 days per year in Spain or you are officially classified as resident there), you are not allowed to drive a foreign registered car. See out guide to Importing a Car into Spain.
Insuring a Spanish-registered car
You can take out insurance on a car that is registered in Spain with any Spanish insurance company or with a number of foreign insurance companies operating in Spain.
You cannot take out insurance in relation to a car based in Spain with a company that does not have an office in Spain. That is not permitted by EU law.
Types of Insurance
There are six types of insurance widely available and used in Spain. These may differ from what is on offer in your country.
Compulsory Minimum Insurance
Compulsory Minimum Insurance (responsabilidad civil obligatoria) is the minimum level of insurance required in Spain.
It is third party cover. Note that a driver and his family don’t count as third parties and must be insured separately.
It is limited in its scope. It covers you up to a maximum of:
- €70 million in the case of damage caused to people
- €15 million in the case of damage to vehicles or goods
It does not generally cover:
- Any damage and losses caused to the driver of the vehicle
- Damage that is not related to the driving of the vehicle
- The damage caused by a stolen vehicle
- Damages caused when the vehicle is driven under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Damage caused if you drive without a driving license, with an excess load or when the legal obligations related to the safety of the vehicle are breached.
If you are thinking of taking out this type of insurance, make sure you understand its limitations: particularly relating to cover for your family.
The damage to third parties covered by this policy includes:
- Damage to people caused by the vehicle when the responsibility lies with the driver of the vehicle. It covers pedestrians or other drivers who suffer physical damage as a result of a traffic accident.
- Material damage to objects or animals as a result of an accident that was the fault of the driver of the insured vehicle.
However, there are, as mentioned above, exclusions to what is covered.
Most policies offer additional cover. See below.
Travel Assistance (asistencia en viajes) covers glass breakage (rotura de lunas) and legal expenses (defensa penal) in the event of a court case. It may be included in basic third-party cover or can be added to your policy for a small additional premium.
It is not breakdown insurance. See below.
Third Party, Fire & Theft
Third-party, fire and theft insurance (responsabilidad civil obligatoria, incendio y robo) includes cover against fire (incendio), theft (robo) and (usually) natural hazards (such as a falling tree crushing your car), broken glass (rotura de lunas) and legal expenses (defensa penal). It will also sometimes cover damage to or theft of the contents of your car.
(Fully) Comprehensive insurance (todo riesgo) covers all the risks covered under third-party, fire and theft insurance policies plus cover for other damage that you or someone else causes to your vehicle.
Comprehensive insurance may be compulsory if you are buying your car on credit.
Some companies do not provide comprehensive cover for vehicles more than two or three years old. however, in theory at lest, it is possible to take out comprehensive cover for any vehicle up to ten years old.
Driver insurance (seguro de ocupantes) is usually optional and can be added to your insurance policy.
By law, almost all occupants of a motor vehicle must be insured. The Obligatory Civil Liability Insurance covers the passengers of the vehicle responsible for an accident, with the exception of the driver. However, that insurance does not cover personal or material damage suffered by the driver in the event of a loss for which he was responsible.
Driver protection allows the driver of a vehicle that has been involved in an accident to claim for their own bodily injury, including compensation if they are incapable of working. Beneficiaries can be compensated in the case of death.
There are usually various levels of this insurance, coverage ranging from €3,000 up to €30,000 for death and permanent disability.
Breakdown Insurance (seguro de asistencia en carretera) comes in many varieties from basic roadside assistance to a policy covering also repatriation for your family and your car in the event of an accident or breakdown.
Breakdown insurance may cover just Spain or include cover in other European countries. To claim, you must usually be a minimum distance from your home: typically, 10 to 30 km.
The breakdown service normally covers the policyholder, their spouse and their single dependent children.
The insurance usually provides transportation in the event of a breakdown or illness.
There are lots of suppliers and policies. you do not need to take breakdown insurance from your main car insurance provider – though many people do.
Car insurance premiums are lower than in most European countries.
Needless to say, they vary wildly depending upon the type of car, the age of the driver and where you live.
You can reduce your premium by choosing to pay an excess (franquicia).
Shop around: but remember that the benefits of a claims line in your own language greatly outweigh a few euro saved on the premium.
Many companies offer a 5% discount for each year of no claims, up to a maximum of 50% or 60%.
You can usually pay an extra premium to protect your no-claims bonus in the event of an accident.
You will need to complete an application for insurance. These days, this is usually done online but there are still many physical offices for those who prefer to work in that way.
The statements made in your application for insurance must be accurate. Otherwise, the insurance may be invalid.
You must notify your insurance company of any claim within a limited period: usually two to five days.
Accident claims are accepted or rejected based on the information provided in accident report forms (declaración de siniestro de automóvil) completed by drivers concerned; reports by insurance company experts and any police reports.
See our Guide to Road Accidents in Spain.
Insurance for your car is critical not just because the law requires you to have it but because of the devastating consequences of having an accident whilst not insured.
Please contact the author if you would like any further information. See the sidebar for their contact details.
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