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Insurance in Spain Car Insurance

Is car insurance mandatory in Spain?

April 17, 2024

As all expats know, living in a foreign country can get a little confusing or frustrating sometimes because we are never quite sure if things run the same here as they do at “home”. Especially when it comes to all the paperwork, and bureaucratic processes that ensure that what we do and how we do it are within the law. Even simple things like owning a car raises lot of questions, with one of the main grey areas being car insurance and whether it is mandatory and if you can use or transfer an existing car insurance policy from your home country in order to keep your no claims etc.

people driving covered by mandatory car insurance in Spain

First things first… is car insurance mandatory?

The short answer is yes! If you own a car in Spain, car insurance is mandatory in order for your vehicle to be legal. In fact, the name given to the basic level of insurance required by law for any vehicle is “Seguro Obligatorio”.

This is the minimal cover you MUST have in Spain, regardless of whether you are actually using the car or if it is just parked up somewhere for a rainy day. The only exception is if it is parked in a private garage and is not on a public road. Nowadays, due to the digitalisation of many bureaucratic systems, it is possible for the details to be checked by passing officials, and if you do not have a mandatory insurance policy for the car, you could receive a fine or ”multa” of 600€ to 3000€, and/or run the risk of having the car confiscated and impounded.

“Seguro Obligatorio” is the basic (and also the cheapest) option that you can have, which is the equivalent to “third party” insurance – that covers you for any damage caused in an accident that is your fault, to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or vehicles. But remember, that as with standard Third-party cover in other countries, it does not cover damage to your own vehicle or any personal injuries that may result from any accidents. In the same way, in Spain it is also possible to increase the cover of a third-party plan for certain incidents– such as fire and theft

So, is car insurance mandatory in the same way as in the UK?

Well, actually there is one big difference.

In the UK, mandatory car insurance is linked directly to the driver – which is a driver-centric system, whereas in Spain, car insurance is directly related to the vehicle, which is a vehicle or car-centric.

This means that, in Spain, you obtain an insurance policy for the specific vehicle, not the person who is going to be behind the wheel. Essentially, the insurance cover belongs to the car, and so, ensures that a car always has insurance, and stays within the law, even if there is no one currently driving it. This not only reduces administration and paperwork on both sides, but also means that that multiple drivers can use and share the car without the necessity for all of them to have individual policies. This is obviously ideal for couples, flatmates, and families alike, but also has a direct benefit to businesses that have different drivers and or a fleet of pool cars or vans.

Knowing that this is the way in Spain helps give drivers flexibility to share cars, which is also a great thing for our eco system and trying to reduce the number of vehicles we manufacturer, but also can help people make wiser decisions about the car they choose to drive and insure.

As with everything in life, there may be some exceptions, if you have a really swanky or high-performance car, or maybe one of your teenage children has just become a newly qualified driver. In all cases, this is something to check and consult with your insurance provider about, to ensure that any personal circumstances are taken into account when obtaining an insurance policy and advises whether an additional premium is or isn’t required.

Can I use or transfer my current policy from home?

It is often thought that if you are from another EU country, that you can drive your vehicle and use your homeland insurance policies to drive with on European roads, and to an extent this is true, if you are on holiday and go by ferry for example. However, this only stands if you are a temporary visitor or tourist and there is a limit of time you can drive in Spain without notifying the relevant authorities.

Important things to note are that you will only be covered as third-party driver during this period, and also the time limit is generally 90 days. In addition, if you are moving to Spain more permanently and wish to become a resident of Spain you will need to transfer your vehicle, and all your paperwork, including your driver’s licence and  mandatory car insurance policy to the Spanish system, and should start this process within 30 days of your arrival.

Another consideration is that foreign vehicles which are to be driven regularly on Spanish roads (i.e. Not as a visiting tourist) need to be officially registered in Spain in order to be covered legally by a Spanish insurance provider. Therefore, you need to go through the process of registering the vehicle first, and then move onto obtaining the relevant insurance, either the seguro obligatorio (mandatory third-party car insurance) or a higher level depending on your personal requirements. To be honest, the vehicle registration is the harder part of this, but luckily, you can read one of my related articles here, about  how to register a car in Spain. And, for even advice on everything you need to do to bring a car into Spain legally and safely, there is also a useful guide that you can download.

man sitting on car wondering if  car insurance is mandatory in Spain?

How do I go about getting mandatory car insurance?

It is easy to obtain quotes and select an insurance policy to suit your needs, especially with specialist providers like Caser Expat Insurance .

You will also be pleased to know that in general, Spain comes alongside countries that have the lower premium rates for car insurance in the EU. The cover you need and the premium you will pay is depending on various variables, the most significant being the vehicle itself (based on age, engine size and parts/repairs costs), and the level of cover you wish to have (be it third party, extended third party or comprehensive (full) cover). Other factors that providers consider are the average annual mileage, location, and parking options, - and personal factors relating to drivers, such as new, young or experienced drivers, or drivers with previous convictions and so on.)

As an expat specialist provider, you have the peace of mind that you can speak to an English speaking agent, who will advise you of the best options for your personal life and credentials, and they can check any specific coverage you may need for the different drivers and situations that I just mentioned.

So, although it sounds like a pain, after all, anything that is mandatory is often considered as such! Getting a specifically Spanish car insurance policy is vital in order to keep your vehicle legal and lawful on the roads of Spain. The benefit is that the car centric system means that you only have to do it once, and then, you can literally “Vamos”!!! The added benefit is that, with a Spanish policy, your car is covered to be driven by yourself and other drivers who have a current Spanish driving licence. And for me this is the best thing, as it opens up the kilometres of roads around the country for road tripping with friends and family.

Download Free Guide:  How to choose  Third Party Car Insurance

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