What Foreign Nationals Need to Know About Driving in the UK

UK Motor insurance quotesForeign nationals wishing to drive in the United Kingdom should ensure that they have the correct UK motor insurance for the purpose. Motor vehicle insurance is a legal requirement for driving in the United Kingdom, with third party insurance being the legal minimum cover that drivers are expected to obtain. Third party insurance covers a driver in the case of an accident that causes damage or injury to another person, vehicle or property. It does not, however, cover the costs of fixing one’s own car. Holders of foreign driver’s licences, however, often find that they battle to secure affordable insurance to drive in the UK.  The following suggestions will help any foreign national finding the most appropriate and affordable policy and drive legally while living and working in the U.K.

Foreign nationals insurance – often more expensive

Foreign nationals from countries that drive on the opposite side of the road often discover that a motor insurance quote in the UK can be expensive.

The top 3 reasons for this are:

  • Insurance companies work out their costs based on risk, and because some drivers are instinctively used to driving on the other side of the road, the risk of these drivers having an accident is considered to be higher. 
  • The fact that these drivers do not have experience driving on UK roads also counts against them.
  • Some insurance companies will not include the claims history of drivers from other countries, meaning that drivers looking for insurance in the UK effectively start again as new drivers, with a higher risk portfolio and without the benefit of a no-claims history.

Motor vehicle insurance for imported vehicles

Drivers bringing their own cars into the country should make sure that insurance companies are aware of the make and model of such cars, to ensure that these cars can be covered by UK motor insurance. Left-hand drive cars, brought over from the EU, are more expensive to drive in the UK than the standard right-hand drive cars. This might be because imported cars have different vehicle manufacturer and safety standards.

If a foreign national is driving their own car, once it has been insured it must be registered with the DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority) and if it is older than three years, it has to be taken for a MOT (Ministry of Transport) test at an accredited dealer.

Be prepared to pay a steep price for being uninsured to drive in the UK

Owners of uninsured vehicles that are driven on UK roads face a fixed penalty of up to £100, the car’s wheels could be clamped or the car impounded, and the driver could be prosecuted in court and receive a maximum fine of £1,000. According to UK law, it does not matter who is driving the car; it will be the vehicle’s owner who is liable to pay the fines.

In addition, drivers who are not insured to drive in the UK face a maximum fine of £300 and six penalty points if they hold a UK licence. If it goes to court, the driver faces an unlimited fine and could be disqualified from driving. This makes driving without insurance a very risky business and seriously not worth chancing in the UK.

If a driver intends to drive a friend or family member’s car in the UK, the owner of the car must add this person as a listed driver onto their existing policy. Failure to do so will mean both the driver and the vehicle are not insured, which is illegal and carries steep penalties in the UK.

Foreign nationals with foreign licences

Many insurance companies have cheaper UK motor insurance options for UK licence holders. If a driver holds a licence obtained in another country and emigrates to the UK, it might be worth their while to become a UK licence holder. This is especially beneficial if the driver plans to stay in the UK for the long term. Those holding non-exchangeable licences will have to eventually apply for a full UK licence, and will have to take their driving test again.

Drivers who want to find out if they are eligible to drive on UK roads with their foreign driver’s licence should use a tool to see if they can drive in Great Britain with a non-GB driving licence and can answer questions based on their particular circumstances.

Drivers who want to find out how to convert their foreign driver’s licence into a UK licence should find out the process for exchanging a foreign driving licence. What they need to do will depend on what kind of licence they hold.

Legal loopholes are not worth the risk

A recent news report on the BBC explained how some UK resident drivers were insuring their cars in eastern European countries and then driving them back to the UK, where the drivers live. The insurance there is considerably cheaper and this is seen as a way to avoid the higher costs of insuring the vehicle in the UK. The problem with doing this is that if there is a claim, the process is usually fraught with problems and, as such, the risk of not getting paid out after an accident is very high.

Foreign nationals’ motor vehicle insurance risks – Increasing accidents

A recent report by the Accident Exchange showed that motorway accidents in the UK involving foreign truck drivers had increased by 14% from 2012 to 2014.

The number of accidents involving non-UK drivers increased from 929 in 2012 to 1061 in 2014. So while a foreign driver might have a perfect record, many insurance companies will still look at the overall statistics and charge a policy fee based on the perceived risk.

According to this report, Polish, German and Spanish Heavy Goods Vehicles are most likely to be in a motorway accident. This makes it imperative for a driver to conduct a motor insurance comparison to find motor insurance quotes that take into account their personal driving history.

Once you have motor vehicle insurance – enjoy the ride

Obeying the rules of the road in the UK and when driving in Europe is also essential to reduce accident risk and ensure you stay on the right side of the law. To make sure you know all the rules of the road, read our article on “Important European rules of the road and Driving Laws"

Once drivers have the correct UK motor insurance, they can relax and enjoy the journey. According to The UK’s Department of Transport, there are 245.8 thousand miles of road in Great Britain. Many of these roads pass through or near forests, rolling green hills, hedge-lined farm lanes, historic ancient towns, castles, lakes, lochs and mountain passes.  If you would like more information on scenic routes in the UK, read our article on the Top 12 Scenic Drives in the UK.

Clements Motor Coverage is ideal for expatriates in the UK currently holding a full valid license, and it offers the right level of protection at an affordable price. In addition to physical damage insurance for vehicles, drivers should also ensure they are covered for vehicle breakdowns and legal expenses, windscreen repair and third party cover. In addition, same day cover will ensure that you are back behind the wheel in no time.

Drivers looking for UK motor insurance should try the Clements online quote facility.

Get an Online Quote Now

Call us today at +44(0) 33 0099 0100 or e-mail uk@clements.com to discuss your motor insurance needs.