FAQ

About the COB

 

What is the CoB?

The Council of Bureaux (CoB) is the managing organisation of The Green Card System and supports the smooth application in practice of the EU Motor Insurance Directives. The CoB operates under the United Nations’ aegis and cooperates with the EU Institutions.

The organisation's mission is double:

  • to facilitate the cross-border road traffic;
  • to offer a high level of protection to victims of cross-border road traffic accidents.

 

è Read more: About the CoBActivities of the CoBHistory of the CoBMap of the system

 

About the Green Card System


 

What is the Green Card System and what is its aim?

The Green Card System is a protection mechanism for victims of cross-border road traffic accidents. It facilitates the flow of cross-border road traffic in Europe and guarantees the compensation of domestic victims of accidents caused by foreign motorists in guaranteeing sufficient third party liability of the latter.

è Read more: Green Card System

 

Who are its members? What are its geographical borders?

As of January 2016, the Green Card System consists of 47 National Insurers’ Bureaux representing more than 1500 motor insurers in 48 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The aim of a National Insurers’ Bureau is to guarantee that a victim of a road traffic accident caused by a foreign vehicle (from another participating country) is compensated.

The geographical scope of the Green Card System extends to:

  • European countries lying to the West of the Ural Mountains and the Caspian Sea and
  • countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Apart from the existing members of the Green Card System, the following countries are eligible for future CoB Membership: Algeria, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Libya and Syria.

è Read more: Members of the System,Map of the system

 

What are the correspondents? What are their functions?

According to the rules of the Green Card System, the National Insurers' Bureau of the country of accident will be competent to receive and handle claims addressed by victims having suffered an accident caused by a foreign vehicle (originating from another participating country ).

The Green Card System however also allows motor insurers to nominate correspondents in other countries participating to the Green Card System. This correspondent will then be responsible to handle all claims arising from accidents occurred in the country where the correspondent is nominated and caused by (foreign) vehicles insured with the (foreign) motor insurer that has nominated the correspondent.

The correspondent acts in the name of the National Insurers' Bureau of the country where the correspondent is nominated and for the account of the foreign insurer that has nominated the correspondent.

The nomination of correspondents is a possibility for insurers, not an obligation.

The National Insurers' Bureau of the country of accident will guarantee the quality of the claims handling process by the correspondent and the Bureau continues to bear the final responsibility for the reimbursement of the damage caused.

è Read more: Correspondents

 

What is a Green Card? When and why do I need it and how do I get it?

The Green Card is an international certificate of insurance issued under the authority of the National Bureau. It provides a guarantee for the visited country that the insurer of the vehicle's country of origin will reimburse the victim's damage in accordance with the rules applicable in the visited country. If the insurer, for whatever reason, does not reimburse the damage, the National Bureau under which authority the Green Card has been issued will guarantee the reimbursement.

Motorists can obtain a Green Card from the insurer that has issued their motor insurance policy.

The format of the Green Card is determined by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), on the basis of a proposal of the Council of Bureaux.

è Read more: The Green Card

 

Is the Green Card included in the price of MTPL insurance?

For countries belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA): the European Motor Insurance Directive provides that a Motor Third Party Liability (MTPL) insurance must cover, on the basis of one single premium, the entire territory of the EEA. The EEA consists of the 28 Member States of the European Union, together with Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Moreover, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland, although not members of the EEA, also belong to this area of a single premium. This means that the normal price of MTPL insurance in these countries will allow travelling to all other mentioned countries.

For the 14 countries, other than the ones mentioned above, an additional premium can be asked for obtaining a Green Card. This means that in these countries an additional price can be asked to travel to another country belonging to the Green Card System, but it also means that an MTPL insurer in the EEA can ask an additional premium for a vehicle, originating from the EEA to travel to a non EEA-country with a Green Card.

These 14 countries are (as of January 2016): Albania (AL), Azerbaijan (AZ), Bosnia-Herzegovina (BIH), Belarus (BY), Israel (IL), Iran (IR), Morocco (MA), Moldova (MD), FYROM (MK), Montenegro (MNE), Russia (RUS), Tunisia (TN), Turkey (TR) and Ukraine (UA).

 

Is the Green Card necessary for all countries? Do I always need a Green Card when crossing a border?

In 1972, the European Union adopted the first Motor Insurance Directive, now inserted in the pdf icon Codified European Motor Insurance Directive. The aim of this legal instrument was to simplify the cross-border traffic between European Member States by abolishing the control of the Green Card.

Ever since, the presentation of the Green Card is not necessary anymore to cross the borders between:

  • The 28 Member States of the European Union;
  • 3 additional European countries participating to the European Economic Area: Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway;
  • 3 additional countries participating to this system by way of agreement: Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland

Between these countries, a guarantee mechanism applies on the basis of the origin of the vehicle ("the Member State in which a vehicle is normally based"). This guarantee will apply between the Green Card Bureaux of both countries, even if, in violation of the law , the vehicle that caused the accident, turns out to be uninsured.

Hence, no Green Card is necessary for cross-border travelling between the following countries: Austria (A), Andorra (AND), Belgium (B), Bulgaria (BG), Switzerland (CH), Cyprus (CY), Czech Republic (CZ), Germany (D), Denmark (DK), Spain (E), Estonia (EST), France (F), Liechtenstein (FL), Finland (FIN), United Kingdom (GB), Greece (GR), Hungary (H), Croatia (HR), Italy (I), Ireland (IRL), Iceland (IS), Luxembourg (L), Lithuania (LT), Latvia (LV), Malta (M), Norway (N), The Netherlands (NL), Portugal (P), Poland (PL), Romania (R), Sweden (S), Slovenia (SLO), Slovak Republic (SK) and Serbia (SRB).

Attention: in some countries, the Green Card is more than only an international proof of insurance. Certain countries have made, on the basis of national legislation, the Green Card into a national proof of insurance. Despite of what is written above, it might therefore still be necessary to have a Green Card, but not for travelling internationally.

è Read more: The Green CardMap of the system

 

Why are some country codes crossed out on my Green Card?

The Green Card System gives the possibility for insurers to cover the territory of other countries, this is however not an obligation. Insurers are free, on the basis of premium or on other grounds, to exclude a number of countries from Green Card cover. They can therefore cross out certain countries, which cannot be visited then on the basis of that specific Green Card.

There are however exceptions to this rule:

  • On the basis of the European Motor Insurance Directive, the whole territory of the European Economic Area (EEA) must be covered on the basis of one single premium. This means that an MTPL insurer in the EEA cannot cross out any of the country codes belonging to the European Economic Area on the Green Card;
  • On the basis of the same rule, the entire territory of the EEA must be seen as one unity. An MTPL insurer outside the EEA cannot offer a Green Card on which only a limited number of EEA country codes are crossed out. Either cover is granted for the entire territory of the EEA, or the entire territory of the EEA is excluded from cover. No interim solution is possible;
  • On the basis of a pdf icon Multilateral Agreement, insurers of EEA Member States may not cross out Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland and, vice versa, insurers in Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland may not cross out the Member States of the EEA.

For this reason, the country codes of the EEA form one single "box" on the Green Card.

 

What should I do if I want to drive my car into a country which is not part of the Green Card System?

The conditions to visit countries not belonging to the Green Card System depend on the national rules of the country to be visited. If MTPL insurance is compulsory in that country, the conclusion of a frontier insurance, giving cover for the country visited, may be required.


 

Role of EU in the protection of victims of cross-border road traffic accidents


 

What are the EU Motor Insurance Directives? To which countries do they apply?

Starting from 1972, the European Union has adopted five European Directives dealing with compulsory Motor Third Party Liability (MTPL) insurance ("insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability").

Although designed as an element of the construction of the European internal market (with free movement of persons, goods, services and capital), the European Motor Insurance Directives have, right from the beginning, also pursued a satisfactory level of victim's protection. Progressively, the adoption of the Directives has step by step reinforced the protection offered both to the consumer covered by an MTPL insurance as to the victim of road traffic accidents caused by the use of motor vehicles.

As such, the Directives have, amongst others, determined what risks must be covered by MTPL insurance, have limited the exclusions allowed by MTPL insurance, have restricted the exclusions of cover that can be opposed to victims, have improved the situation of victims of accidents caused by unidentified or uninsured vehicles and have introduced additional protection schemes for victims of accidents caused in other Member States than the victim's Member State of residence.

The European Directives are not directly applicable in the Member States but need to be implemented into national legislation.

The EU Motor Insurance Directives are applicable in:

  • The 28 Member States of the European Union: Austria (A), Belgium (B), Bulgaria (BG), Cyprus (CY), Czech Republic (CZ), Germany (D), Denmark (DK), Spain (E), Estonia (EST), France (F), Finland (FIN), United Kingdom (GB), Greece (GR), Hungary (H), Croatia (HR), Italy (I), Ireland (IRL), Luxembourg (L), Lithuania (LT), Latvia (LV), Malta (M), The Netherlands (NL), Portugal (P), Poland (PL), Romania (R), Sweden (S), Slovenia (SLO) and the Slovak Republic (SK);
  • 3 additional European countries participating to the European Economic Area: Iceland (IS), Liechtenstein (FL) and Norway (N).

The five directives are now superseded by the pdf icon “Codified Motor Insurance Directive” (2009/103/EC).

è Read more: EU Motor Insurance Directives

 

What is the 4th Motor Insurance Directive? What purposes did it want to achieve?

The 4th Motor Insurance Directive is one of the five directives adopted by the European Union and dealing with compulsory Motor Third Party Liability (MTPL) insurance ("insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability"). It was adopted on 16th May 2000.

The most important achievement of the 4th Motor Insurance Directive is the introduction of a protection scheme for victims of accidents that have occurred in another Member State than their Member State of residence. As such it can be seen as the "mirror image" of the Green Card System.

While the Green Card System protects victims of accidents caused by foreign vehicles, the system of the 4th Motor Insurance Directive envisages protecting "visiting" victims, suffering a road traffic accident in another Member State than their Member State of residence.

According to the 4th Motor Insurance Directive, every insurer in the European Economic Area (EEA) must appoint a claims representative in each and every other Member State of the EEA. This claims representative must be able to receive and handle claims addressed by victims, resident in the Member State where the claims representative is established and having suffered an accident in another Member State of the EEA than the victim's own Member State of residence. The big advantage is that the victim will be able to formulate their claim in their own language to a claims representative established in the victim's Member Sate. This protection system will however not alter the rules determining the law applicable to the road traffic accident.

The 4th Motor Insurance Directive also requires insurers and claims representatives to provide a prompt settlement of claims. Insurers and claims representatives must answer a claim with a reasoned offer for compensation or with a reasoned reply within a period of three months.

The 4th Directive provides for a safety net in certain cases where insurers or claims representatives do not respect the obligations of the 4th Directive or where an accident is caused by an unidentified or uninsured vehicle. In case an insurer has not appointed a claims representative or when the insurer or claims representative does not formulate a reasoned offer or reasoned reply within the required time limit, the victim can address a claim to a Compensation Body, which must be established in each EEA Member State. The same body can be appealed to in case the victim has suffered an accident in another Member State, caused by an unidentified or uninsured vehicle.

In order to allow the victim to identify the right body to turn to, the 4th Motor Insurance Directive requires the EEA Member States to establish Information Centres, which must be able to provide the victim with, amongst others, the name of the insurer covering the vehicle which has caused an accident and the claims representative appointed by that insurer in the victim's Member State of residence.

The 4th Motor Insurance Directive is now incorporated in the pdf icon Codified Motor Insurance Directive

è Read more: The 4th Motor Insurance Directive

 

What are the claims representatives? What are their functions?

According to the EU Motor Insurance Directive, every insurer in the European Economic Area (EEA) must appoint a claims representative in each and every other Member State of the EEA. This claims representative must be able to receive and handle claims addressed by victims, resident in the Member State where the claims representative is established and having suffered an accident in another Member State of the EEA than the victim's own Member State of residence. The victim can address himself to the claims representative of the insurer covering the vehicle that caused the accident.

The big advantage is that the victim will be able to formulate its claim in its own language to a claims representative established in the victim's Member Sate. This protection system will however not alter the rules determining the law applicable to the road traffic accident.

è Read more: Claims Representatives

 

What are the Guarantee Funds, Compensation Bodies and Information Centres and what are their functions?

Guarantee Funds have been established in execution of the 2nd European Motor Insurance Directive and must provide compensation to victims of accidents caused by unidentified or uninsured vehicles. The conditions for intervention can be found in Article 10 of the pdf icon Codified Motor Insurance Directive. Member States are free to confine other tasks to Guarantee Funds on the national territory (e.g. intervention in case of insolvency of insurers).

Compensation Bodies and Information Centres have been established in execution of the 4th Motor Insurance Directive.

Compensation Bodies can be considered as a sort of safety net in certain cases where insurers or claims representatives do not respect the obligations under the Motor Insurance Directive or where an accident is caused by an unidentified or uninsured vehicle in another Member State than the victim's Member State of residence. In case an insurer has not appointed a claims representative or when the insurer or claims representative does not formulate a reasoned offer or reasoned reply within the required time limit, the victim can address a claim to the Compensation Body of their Member State of residence. The same body can be appealed to in case the victim has suffered an accident in another Member State, caused by an unidentified or uninsured vehicle.

In order to allow the victim to identify the right body to turn to, the Motor Insurance Directive requires the EEA Member States to establish Information Centres, who must be able to provide the victim with, amongst others, the name of the insurer covering the vehicle which has caused an accident and the claims representative appointed by that insurer in the victim's Member State of residence.

è Read more: EU MID Bodies

 

What role does the CoB play in the daily application of the Motor Insurance Directives and what are the relations between the CoB and the EU institutions?

The Motor Insurance Directive requires Compensation Bodies, Guarantee Funds and Information Centres to cooperate in order to ensure a smooth application of the Directive.

The Council of Bureaux offers secretarial services to Compensation Bodies, Guarantee Funds and Information Centres in order to allow this necessary cooperation and to safeguard the proper application of the Motor Insurance Directives.

To this end, the Council of Bureaux cooperates with the European institutions (in the first place the European Commission). The CoB has however no political or lobbying purposes, it is merely a technical organisation envisaging a satisfactory level of protection to victims of cross-border road traffic accidents.