by Ani Ivanova

Buying a car insurance policy is essential anywhere but beware Bulgarian booby traps and read the small print

Whether a first-time visitor or longstanding resident you'll be aware of the recklessness of some Bulgarian drivers, exacerbated by poor roads and confusing signalling.

Aside from the legal requirement for third party insurance, this dangerous context should encourage you to act. When you add occasional car thefts and recent devastating floods, you'll appreciate that insurance is a vital precaution.

Any policy acquired in the UK or any EU country will automatically provide the minimum cover required to drive anywhere in the EU, including Bulgaria. You must display proof of valid insurance at this country's point of entry but you can also buy a policy at the border. Sales staff may not speak English but the certificate is written in English as well as Bulgarian, enabling you to decipher it.

If your motor policy expires and you are still in Bulgaria, you can always buy a new one from a UK insurer. Negotiating in your own language is often easier. However, if you hunt around for a local insurer, you could find a bargain.

Around 20 (non-life) insurance companies – Bulgarian and international – operate in the domestic market, along with a number of insurance brokers. Larger operators have English web pages as well as English-speaking staff in main offices. Free web-based quotes are unavailable so a phone call or a visit is essential. Be forewarned that your car registration plate could pose an obstacle. Only a few outlets provide motor insurance for foreign-registered cars. If, on the other hand, your car is equipped with Bulgarian plates, the choice is very wide.

Motor insurance can comprise a fully comprehensive policy for your vehicle that covers you for damage to your vehicle in the event of accident, fire and other natural disasters as well as vandalism and theft – or a combination of the above. The policy may be exclusive to Bulgaria or valid abroad. So it's vital to pore over the details, take a Bulgarian-speaking friend if possible and insist on reading an English version of general conditions and your own specific policy. The insurer may delay providing this but it always facilitates the process.

Unlike your own personal cover – which is voluntary – third-party liability car insurance is compulsory in Bulgaria. This ensures that the person responsible for a third party's injuries as well as damage to their vehicle is held to account. A car windscreen sticker confirms you as a policyholder. Traffic police perform regular checks and can impose a 100-500 leva fine on anyone, owner or motorist, without such documentation.

Customers who buy both their comprehensive cover and their third party liability policy from the same insurer usually enjoy discounts and/or bonuses. These include free roadside assistance in and outside Bulgaria as well as free cover abroad and passenger insurance. The price will depend on various factors such as liabilities, risks covered, vehicle type, location and mode of payment as well as your driving history. A basic third-party cover for vehicles with engines of up to 1,500 cc will cost about 115 leva.

If you want to travel abroad you must check if you are covered by the third party insurance you acquired in Bulgaria. Market liberalisation in mid-2005 enabled insurers to set their own prices. In 2006 many offered policies at discounts provided buyers agreed to drive only in Bulgaria. Hence, before travelling to Greece, for example, you need to check your policy. If foreign countries are excluded, you should visit your insurer and have an additional Green Card certificate issued. Obviously, you will also have to pay the extra amount originally deducted from your policy's premium for the exclusion.

A regular third party policy will cover you in all EU states as well as in Andorra, Croatia, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. In the January- July period this year motorists travelling to Romania or Greece were required to carry their Green Card certificates, evidence that they have at least the minimum compulsory third party insurance cover required by the laws of the countries visited. Your insurer issues the document free of charge (except in aforementioned cases).

As of 1 August motorists with Bulgarian-registered vehicles are no longer required to provide Green Card certificates to enter another EU country. A Bulgarian registration number is deemed to be sufficient evidence of a third party policy. However, a Bulgarian-issued policy – remember to take it with you! – is usually in Cyrillic. So foreign traffic police you encounter, either routinely or in the event of accidents, will have problems understanding it. A Green Card certificate, written in English and universally comprehensible, will provide better proof of your third party cover and minimise trouble abroad.

If you travel to Macedonia or Turkey, obtaining a Green Card certificate is mandatory. Check with your insurer whether you have it or if you have to pay an additional amount to obtain one. Insurers vary on charging, dependant on whether they had calculated the accident risk in the 14 countries of your policy's Green Card system. It may seem self-evident but Green Card insurance does not cover vehicle damage, only a minimal liability for the country you are visiting. Vehicle damage is covered by your own fully comprehensive cover, if valid outside Bulgaria.

Note the risks included in your policy. A recent survey of local insurers showed few cover you for theft or vehicle robbery in Macedonia, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Soviet Republics. It's also advisable to check your insurer's policy with respect to car repairs in case of breakdown in a foreign country.

In the event of an accident, contact the insurer and/or the road assistance body immediately as well as the police. Obtaining a police report is essential to lodge an insurance claim. In some cases you may be required to complete a claim form or provide additional paperwork. Cases generally take longer to be processed in Bulgaria than in your home country. The term regulated by law is three months.

Green Card insurance for countries outside the EU currently covers Belarus, Albania, Moldavia, Andorra, Morocco, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tunisia, Macedonia, Turkey, Iran, Ukraine, Israel, Serbia and Montenegro. Green cards are not available for Kosovo and border car insurance must be purchased.

1 January 2006 – 31 December 2009
For material damages: 200,000 leva. For non-material and material damages resulting in bodily injury or death: 700,000 leva for one person, 1,000,000 leva for two or more people.


    Commenting on

    Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on

Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

Spring adrenaline often needs to find an outlet, and on 20-21 April you have the perfect excuse to let it all out. For two days Hadzhidimitrovo Village, near Yambol, will host Tundzha Trail, one of craziest 4WD competitions.

Emma Hopkins OBE was appointed Her Majesty's Ambassador to Bulgaria in May 2015. Since then, she has been exploring Bulgaria, its people, culture, landmarks and, last but not least, its cuisine.

"Do I feel lucky today?" This popular movie tag could easily apply when considering whether or not to chance the public transport network in Sofia.

A French girl emerges from Sofia Airport and, before she even looks round for a taxi, she is bombarded with offers of a ride into the city.

I’m reading “The English Neighbour” at the moment, a book about an Englishman who moves to a quiet Bulgarian village. Many people had recommended it to me.
According to the National Employment Agency, Bulgaria's official unemployment rate is 9.6 percent. Eurostat, however, has produced different data, stating that in June 2011 the unemployment rate was 11.4 percent, compared to 10 percent a year earlier.
You may have various reasons for choosing public education in Bulgaria, either for yourself or for your children, ranging from an inability to afford the fees at private educational institutions to being unable to access their services because you live, for
Whether you are buying property or marrying a Bulgarian, you will certainly come to a point when you will need to get documents officially translated and/ or legalised.
Three young Finns set out in May 2010 to trek over the mountain pass at Bachkovo, in the Rhodope. The day started well but ended up as a nightmare when one of them fell and was injured.

"I bought a pair of winter shoes, they seemed stable. After two weeks the sole of one of them came off“ a friend of mine complained. "They were under warranty. I exchanged them for another pair at the shop. Two weeks later the sole came off again.
It could happen to anyone. Your brother or husband goes on what seems like an exciting trip to the Middle East or the Pacific. Then you switch on the TV and you catch some breaking news.
There was a report in The Sunday Times a few years ago that described how easy it was to purchase a child from some Gypsy quarter in Bulgaria. A healthy child was priced at ₤16,000.