Buying Polish Car Insurance

I have never quite understood how Polish car insurance works, but now that the policy that came with my car is about to run out I have had to go and find out about it…

Here is what I know. If anyone has anything to add please leave a comment as always – I hope this article can be a work in progress.

The insurance is ‘with the car’, not ‘with the person’ as in the UK

What does this mean? Well in the UK the policy normally allows you and only you to drive your car unless you add specific named drivers. As a bonus you can normally drive other people’s cars on 3rd party cover too. In Poland it is the other way around – anyone can drive your car if you bought a policy for it.
This is a bit confusing because in both cases the policies specify both the driver and the car.
The net result for us Brits though is two nice bonuses:

  • Anyone can drive anyone’s car in Poland (presuming the car is legal of course)
  • You can take out insurance in your father-in-law’s name to get a cheaper price (just like we used to do in the UK 20 years ago when we were 17 years old)

The vehicle must be insured continuously

In the UK your vehicle needs to be insured if it is on the road. If you don’t have insurance there is nothing wrong with leaving the car in your garage for example. This is not the case in Poland!

IN POLAND YOUR VEHICLE MUST HAVE INSURANCE CONTINUOUSLY regardless of whether it is road-worthy or not or even if it’s parked up on private property.
This means that the day you buy a Polish vehicle you have to make sure it has insurance. If a policy didn’t come with the vehicle for some reason (e.g. because you imported the vehicle) then you have to go and buy insurance THE SAME DAY. I got bitten by this rule. The powers that be have 5 years to check and apparently they can fine you for it.

European Union Harmonisation

There are a number of directives to harmonise car insurance and driving across the EU. See the official Europa website for details. The basics are that any policy you buy in any EU country automatically gives you the minimum required cover in any other EU country (including Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). Green cards are no longer necessary inside the EU.

Levels of cover

In the UK we have 3 levels – 3rd party only, 3rd party fire and theft and fully comprehensive. In Poland from what I have seen they only have the compulsory minimum level of 3rd party (called “OC” which means Odpowiedzialności Cywilnej – civil liability) and fully comp (called “AC” – Autocasco). You can bundle into the package add-ons such as breakdown cover as they do in the UK.

Insurance that comes with the car when you buy it

This is the bit that I still don’t fully understand. In the UK because the cover is with the driver the situation is clear cut – you have your policy, I have mine. Because as mentioned the cover in Poland is with the car, this means that when you buy a car from someone the policy is transferred to you. Well sort of. From what I can work out you have 30 days from when you buy the car to contact the insurance company and change the policy in to your name.

I didn’t change my policy within 30 days and that caused me the following problems:

  • I was then not able to change the insurance company until the policy expired. Luckily for me the previous owner had used a cheap company
  • I had to keep the sale contract in the car with me when I drove so that I could show that the name on the insurance policy was the seller and that I had bought the vehicle.

Taking out a new policy

Like in the UK 20 years ago (presumably before people started buying their insurance directly or via the phone and then online) everyone in Poland buys their insurance from agents. You will see them everywhere. They seem almost as prevalent as “Apteka”s in the town centres… Just look for the big sign that says “Ubezpieczenie” (insurance) or the names/logos of the big insurance companies (PZU, Warta).
Recently some companies have been advertising on TV where you can buy direct. Examples include Link 4 and LibertyDirect. Fire up google.pl and you’ll find them easily enough.

No claims-bonus – “zniżki”

In the UK we count how many years of NCB we have, in Poland they ask what percentage you have (e.g. 10, 20, 30%..). Otherwise it works as you would expect – you gain your NCB the longer you have a policy without accidents and you can transfer your NCB if you change your insurance company. You can normally also transfer your NCB from the UK if you produce an NCB certificate translated into Polish. Worth checking if you have a lot of NCB from the UK.

Worth knowing – the GOTCHAs

  • You must carry your insurance certificate with you all the time
  • A policy will auto-renew if you do nothing unlike in the UK where it’s up to you to renew it. If you want to change your company make sure you write to them in good time
  • You must have insurance even if your car is not on the road

Prices

Like in the UK the price varies a lot depending on each case. The two biggest factors in Poland appear to be the engine size and how much NCB (zniżki – “reduction”) you have. But a pleasant suprise is that car insurance seems to be very cheap compared to the UK, especially for motorbikes.
For my Suzuki GSF1200 I paid £600/year in the UK for 3rd, F&T (including my UK NCB). In Poland I paid 135 złoty for OC and didn’t even bother to tell them I had any NCB at all.

Remember too that they still haven’t wised up to the trick of taking the insurance out in some else’s name such as a parent or parent-in-law (choose someone old with a lot of NCB). But to do that the vehicle needs to have this other person listed as a co-owner on the registration document. I did that this morning with my father-in-law so will cover that in my next blog post.

Happy motoring…

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64 Responses to “Buying Polish Car Insurance”

  1. Ben says:

    Yes that’s all correct.

  2. Steve Holds says:

    Cheers Ben
    How long could I keep the car on Polish Plates before re-registering in Spain?
    Thanks again
    Steve

  3. Ben says:

    well it depends on a couple of things (if you want to be totally legal):
    1. when does the Polish insurance policy and MOT run out? You’ll either need to re-insure it in Poland which will be difficult if you don’t live there, or get Spanish plates before it expires
    2. what are the laws for registering foreign vehicles in Spain? I have no idea about Spain – but it’s typically 6 or 12 months before you are obliged to register in the new country.

  4. Troy Medina says:

    Hi there, I stumbled across this site as I am adamant that I may well of found a loop hole in insurance.
    Just to start, I am a British born, British resident all my family are English. I am 21 own a BMW e36 328 and currently pay £1100 a year or £200 a month for insurance a year. Speaking to Latvian and Polish workers they say insurance from there countries would be around 300 for me.
    Now this got me thinking. Would it be anyway possible to get the car insurance from over there, on a workmates name(who comes from there) and then still be covered to drive my car in the UK?
    Reading through the article I think the only issue currently is that the car is RHD.
    If you have any ideas of how to make this work, your ideas will be much appreciated.
    Many thanks
    Troy Medina

  5. Ben says:

    No, to get insurance in Poland you would need to have the car registered in Poland and on Polish plates. You can’t register RHD cars in Poland, but even if you could and were able to get Polish plates and insurance, you can’t keep a car in the UK for more than 6 months on foreign plates.

  6. Bill says:

    You’ve shared a great deal of helpful information. Thank you.
    Ive one question. Im a non-EU (Canadian) and I’ve been living and now soon be working in Germany. My question is that, if i buy a polish car with insurance, OC checked, everything, can I find a Polish co-owner and have him buy the next insurance and still be able to drive this car in Poland and Germany?

  7. Ben says:

    the policy will auto-renew each year – you just need to remember to pay it when they post you the renewal notice, but yes, you could have a Polish co-owner so that you have a Polish address so that you can get Polish plates and thus Polish insurance. The only thing to remember is that you will need to do the technical inspection in Poland each year, plus you might run into problems with the authorities in Germany for keeping a vehicle there long-term on Polish plates. I don’t know how zealous the Germans are on that so I can’t comment. In the UK they will start to push you to register a foreign vehicle after 6 months of being there. I have heard that the problems are more with the Germans themselves who are often not too keen on Polish cars and sometimes Polish registered vehicles attract damage if you park in a dodgy area….

  8. David says:

    Is wieczorek bogum-ita a car insurance company?

  9. Ben says:

    never heard of it

  10. Adrian says:

    Hi am 17 and I want to get a car but the insurance in Uk is like 6k for me. I am still registered in Poland so can I get a car on my dad? My dad goes Poland every 1-2 months so every 6 months can he take the car back to Poland and then come back? would the 6 months period restart after leaving uk borders?

  11. Ben says:

    If you’re 17 then you can’t drive a car in Poland as you need to be 18. But I guess that if your Dad is registered in Poland he could have a car (LHD) on Polish plates and Polish insurance. But I don’t know if you’d be allowed to drive on Polish insurance if you are below their legal driving age – best to check with a Polish insurance compay.
    Yes the car needs to leave the UK every 6 months. Yes the 6 months restarts each time you leave the country.

  12. adrian says:

    I am waiting until I am 18 to get my car in Poland and drive it in uk. so I was wondering when I get the insurance do I get the document in English translated and also what happens when I have an accident or I get stopped by the police how I show them my insurance details? I heard you need some green scheme thing???

  13. Kemal says:

    Thanks, this article was really helpful! I have a question-for example if the used car you intend to buy does not have insurance as the present owner stated, would it be a problem for you as the buyer? Cannot you make the new policy on the same day you buy the car? Do you have any info about this?

  14. Ben says:

    No it’s not a problem as long as you take out insurance on the same day as you buy the car. Although it’s illegal for somebody to have a registered car (i.e. the car has number plates) and not have insurance, even if the car is off the road.

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