Car accident in Europe
Here we inform you about the necessary steps in case of a car accident in another EU member state, especially in Germany.
Update : Jul 2019
Glove compartment necessities
When you drive across Europe you should have the following documents handy under all circumstances.
The green card
This document certifies that you are insured and notably mentions:
- Information about your insurance company (contact, tele- phone number etc.)
- Information about your car and yourself
The European Accident Statement
The European Accident Statement is a harmonised document at European level (the sections are similar irrespective of the language) and some copies are bilingual (e.g. French-English). Your insurance company can provide you with further information. Despite not being compulsory, the European Accident Statement is essential to receive quick compensation for your damage.
In many EU Member states the reflective jacket and the warning triangle are compulsory. The same applies for first-aid kits. Before travelling abroad, gather all the relevant information about your destination country.
Which law is applicable?
To be able to enforce your claims, it is important to know which law is applicable in case of a car accident.
The claims compensation for car accidents is coordinated to a large extent within the EU. However, there are still differences, for example, as regards the obligatory coverage level of motor third-party liability insurances (MTPL-insurances). Hence, the insurance of the adverse party may not cover your complete damage.
In general, it is the law oft the country where the accident occured that is applicable. It lays down the provisions on liability and compensation. Hence, accidents in France between cars registered in Germany and Hungary fall under the scope of the French law.
However, if the accident only involves vehicles that are all registered in the same Member State, the law of this Member State is applicable. For example, when two cars registered in Germany have an accident in France, the German law is applicable.
At the scene of the accident
If you had an accident, we recommend you not only to stay calm and secure the accident with the triangle, but also the following:
- Stay calm, don’t leave the scene. Secure the accident with the triangle.
- Note the information about the adverse party mentioned on the green card: the full name and address of the driver (verify the driver’s identity!), insurance company, number of insurance policy and registration of the vehicle.
- Note the identity and address of potential witnesses. Ask your witnesses for their business cards, so that you can easily reach them even at their workplace.
- Please carefully fill in the accident statement, which should be signed by the adverse party.
- You don’t speak the language of the other driver? Don’t panic! The European Accident Statement is standardized, so that the information filled out on this document can be easily understood by your insurance company. Therefore, the box ‘observations’ on this document can be completed by the driver in his (her) own language. As a last resort, two European Acccident Statements - in each driver’s language - can be completed and signed.
- Only sign the report when you are sure that you understand the situation and you agree to the description. If this is not the case, do not cross any box. If the European Accident Statement is not properly filled in, you may be unjustly help responsible.
- Carefully read the European Accident Statement before completing its middle column. Then check the boxes relevant to the circumstances of the accident. This is a very important section in order to clarify the responsibility of the drivers involved in the accident.
- Above all, do not forget to mention the number of boxes you ticked at the bottom of the column. Otherwise the adverse party might cross other boxes after the fact, which could be to your disadvantage.
- You are not allowed to compel the other driver to sign the document. In case he does not, gather the global information mentioned above. However, also in this case you can send the European Accident Statement to your insurer for information purposes. In case you were involved in an accident with several other vehicles, you should fill in a European accident statement with each of the parties involved.
- Secure the evidences and take photos of the location of the accident and of the vehicles involved.
The European Accident Statement should be sent as fast as possible to the foreign insurance company and also to your own. Nevertheless, in some countries there is a time limit for its submission.
The European system of compensation
The European Union created a simplified procedure for the compensation of car accident victims in another European Member state (Directive 2009/103/EC). In particular, it enables you to claim compensation in your country of residence as soon as you are back.
The principle of the procedure in three steps:
1. Contact the claims representative of the other driver’s MTPL insurance company
Contact the claims representative of the motor third-person liability insurance (MTPL insurance) company of the other driver(s) involved in the accident in the Member State of your residence; and hand in an application for compensation. This application should include at least the European Accident Statement and, if possible, a cost estimate for the repair.
All Member States also established information centres that can help you to identify the other driver’s MTPL insurance company and the competent claims representative. In Germany that is the Zentralruf der Autoversicherer.
2. Receive the compensation offer within three months
The claims representative must make you a compensation offer within three months after your application. Naturally, only under the condition that you handed in all requested documents.
3. Or contact the Compensation Body
You can contact the Compensation Body when
- you do not receive any offer from the claim represantative within three months after the submission of your documents
- the other driver’s MTPL insurance company has not nominated a claims representative in your country
- the other driver’s car cannot be identified within two months or his MTPL insurance company cannot be identified.
The compensation body must initiate its actions within two months. However, please note, that you cannot turn to this body, if you have already taken legal actions against the driver.
The Council of Bureaux provides information about all compensation bodies in the Member States. The German compensation body is the Verkehrsopferhilfe e.V.
When can your vehicle be repaired?
It depends on many factors: your degree of responsibility in the accident, the nature of insurance contract you concluded, the nature and extent of the damage to your vehicle. In any case, please wait for the approval of your insurance company to avoid problems.