Before you get to grips with driving in Austria, you’ll want to make sure that you know the rules of the road and get insured. Fortunately for expats moving to Austria, there are plenty of car insurance policies to choose from, as well as other types of insurance, such as home/contents insurance, life insurance, and liability insurance.
To help get you set up, this guide provides the following information:
- Car insurance in Austria
- Types of car insurance in Austria
- Additional forms of car insurance in Austria
- Car insurance bonuses and penalties in Austria
- Car insurance companies in Austria
- Choosing car insurance in Austria
- How to apply for car insurance in Austria
- M ak ing a car insurance claim in Austria
- Canceling a contract or changing provider
- Making a complaint about a car insurance company in Austria
- Roadside assistance in Austria
- Useful resources
Car insurance in Austria
The Insurance Association Austria regulates car insurance in Austria. If you wish to own a car there, you will need to buy Haftpflichtversicherung (third-party liability) insurance before you hit the road. This covers damage caused to others in an accident. However, you will find that many companies that provide car financing in Austria will require more comprehensive insurance to approve the financing.
Overall, there are a number of factors that will determine your insurance price in Austria. Inexperienced drivers, for instance, will pay more than those who have driven longer. Cars with smaller, less powerful engines will also pay less, as will those living in rural areas as opposed to busy urban centers. If you have a good no claims driving record where you currently live, it is also possible to get credit for it in Austria. You’ll need a letter from your current insurer to give to your new agent in Austria. In general, Austria is considered to be expensive when it comes to car insurance and you will need to pay anything from between €60 and €150 per month.
In Austria, the vehicle owner (policyholder) is covered by insurance as well as any additional authorized drivers. Trailers must be insured and registered separately from cars. You may insure up to three cars on the same license plate as long as they are the same type of vehicle.
Can you use car insurance from another country in Austria?
When you temporarily move to Austria from another EU country, your existing insurance policy will still be valid for the contract period. If you move permanently, however, your vehicle has to be registered in Austria within one month of arrival. You must obtain third-party liability insurance with an authorized Austrian insurer in order to get your car registered at the vehicle registration office (or Zulassungsstelle).
Types of car insurance in Austria
There are three main types of car insurance in Austria, but the only compulsory insurance is third-party liability. The others are optional, but often advisable. Below is an overview of the three.
Third-party liability insurance
This is required by law to register your car. Third-party liability covers damages to other people’s health or property.
Partial coverage is optional additional coverage. This covers damages to your car from events such as break-ins, shattered glass, and damages while parked to things like animal damage, fire, and theft.
Also optional, as the name suggests, full coverage includes all of the above as well as damages to your car after accidents.
Additional forms of car insurance in Austria
In Austria, you can get yourself a very handy Green Insurance Card (Green Card) which proves that you have the minimum compulsory insurance coverage to drive in the country you are visiting. Currently, the Green Card system covers 47 countries, including most, but not all, European countries. Primarily, the Green Card is a European system. If you are stopped at the border of a country that is covered by the Green Card system, you need only show them your Green Card to confirm that you have valid car insurance.
Car insurance bonuses and penalties in Austria
Austrian insurers use the Bonus Malus (Latin for ‘good bad’) system. In other countries, this is known as a no-claims bonus. This system regulates no claims periods which in turn lowers the premium. Essentially, premiums increase when claims are made. Essentially, this means that your claims history affects your insurance premiums. Additionally, different insurers offer different levels of Bonus-Malus discounts. Fortunately, although insurers in Austria are not required to recognize claims history from other EU countries, they generally do.
Typically, with a vehicle liability claim, your classification will be downgraded by three levels. There are 18 levels in the Austrian system.
Notably, if you are wondering where you currently sit in the Bonus-Malus system, you can ask your insurer for a record of any claims made over the last five years. They are required to provide this within 15 days.
Car insurance companies in Austria
To help you get started, here are some of the main insurance companies in Austria:
- Allianz – an award-winning international insurer with a proven commitment to sustainability
- Grawe – an independent Austrian group growing throughout Europe since 1828
- Nexible – an InsurTech company using smart technologies to insure clients
- VAV – an insurance broker and complete online provider
- Zurich – an international group with big CSR goals and plenty of awards under its belt
You can find a full list of insurers to choose from on the VVO website.
Choosing car insurance in Austria
Importantly, when choosing your car insurance provider in Austria, it’s a good idea to have a checklist of the things that you are looking for, such as:
- how broad the coverage is
- the amount of excess you have to pay
- if no claims reductions are offered
- the company’s reputation
- how easy/difficult they make the claims process
- if roadside assistance is offered
- green performance of the company
How to apply for car insurance in Austria
First, you’ll need to get your insurance in order before you are able to register your vehicle in Austria. Authorized insurance companies in the country also operate vehicle registration offices for a streamlined process.
Almost all car insurers in Austria have online car insurance calculators. After you’ve decided on your insurance provider, you may call or visit them (most insurers provide online maps directing you to the nearest branch) to arrange the details of your insurance.
Currently, with the socially-distanced climate, most now offer online application forms too where you can fill in all the details without picking up the phone. These smart forms will walk you through all the details to getting your car insured. They will then send you your policy so that you can register your car and hit the road.
Making a car insurance claim in Austria
Ideally, most car insurers in Austria have both an online claim form as well as telephone claim lines. You will be asked to provide your name, license plate number, and contact details along with information relating to the claim. Additionally, you will be able to submit accident reports via email.
As a general rule, the limitation period for filing claims is three years. However, the insurer may, under specific conditions, shorten the limitation period. That said, all insurers suggest that you report the claim immediately after it happens. Most insurance companies will liaise with you on how you would like to have your vehicle repaired. They will ask whether you would like the claim money directly to find a body shop and have it repaired yourself or for them to handle the repair work for you.
After making a claim, many of the modern insurers have an online claim tracker so you can keep track of the status of your claim. This is just like tracking a parcel you are waiting for.
Canceling a contract or changing provider
A change to the Austrian law in 2019 has simplified the cancellation of all insurance contracts, including car insurance. Now, all policyholders are able to cancel their policy within 14 days. The only exception is life insurance, which is 30 days. Before this new law, there were five separate cancellation dates for each different type of insurance.
Generally, your insurance contract will automatically renew for a further year unless you terminate it in writing within the notice period. Furthermore, you may cancel vehicle liability insurance without giving reasons as the result of a claim or if the vehicle is sold. In principle, you can terminate your car insurance by fax. However, most insurers highly recommend sending a notification by registered mail.
Making a complaint about a car insurance company in Austria
Fortunately for expats in Austria, there are options if you don’t agree with an insurance payout. You can file your complaint with the Austrian Insurance Association via email at [email protected] or by phone at 0043 1 71156 -250. Alternatively, you can pop over in person to Schwarzenbergplatz 7, 1030 Wien.
Roadside assistance in Austria
If you haven’t kept an eye on your fuel tank, your car is acting up, or something more serious, there are two major automobile clubs that you can call for assistance. They will fix you up and get you on your way in no time.
Luckily, you don’t need to be a member to call ARBÖ roadside assistance when you need help. You can simply call 123 (no prefix) anytime day or night and they’ll swing their tow truck round to help you out anywhere in Austria. You can call their non-emergency number, 050 123 123, to find out more.
The same goes for ÖAMTC automobile club. Dial 120 and help will be on the way. They also provide information by phone as well as break down and towing services. You don’t need a membership and can reach the hotline 24/7 from all over Austria. Of course, costs vary depending on the problem. That said, call out charges typically start around €100.
For a Europe-wide road assistance service, ALD can help you out with on-site assistance in German and English. They can arrange a replacement vehicle in the case of theft or if you need repair work as well. You can call the free national number – 0800 24 00 44 – as well as an international number +43 1 526 52 25-150.
- VVO – the Association of Insurance Companies in Austria VVO represents the interests of all private insurance companies operating in Austria and supports its members in legal, tax, economic and international matters.
- Motor Vehicle Act – check out all the details of consolidated federal law updated for 2020.