When the Green Card agreements with Russia and Belarus expire at the end of May, a motor liability insurance policy needs to be acquired from a local operator after crossing the border. Photo: Mostphotos

International news

Driving to Russia and Belarus from Finland will become significantly more challenging starting in June, as the international Green Card agreements on motor liability insurance expire. Finnish motorists will no longer be able to use their Finnish motor liability insurance policy in Russia and Belarus, and instead, they will be required to obtain a local insurance policy valid in those countries.

However, the terms and conditions of foreign insurance policies may come with unpleasant surprises for Finnish motorists, and the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has even recommended avoiding travel to Russia and Belarus altogether.

Motor liability insurance is mandatory throughout Europe, including in Russia and Belarus. However, the coverage and compensation provided by insurance policies vary significantly between countries. In Finland, motor liability insurance covers personal injuries for all parties involved in an accident without any upper limit. In contrast, Russian motor liability insurance policies have a cap of approximately €5,500 for compensation per person, with even lower limits for property damage.

Janne Jumppanen, the director of the Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre, warns about the disparities in compensation levels, stating that Finland has one of the best and most comprehensive motor liability insurance systems in the world. The high level of compensation in Finland is exceptional compared to international standards. For instance, in Russia, the motor liability insurance does not compensate for personal injuries caused by the driver responsible for an accident.

With the expiration of the Green Card agreements, Finnish motorists traveling to Russia and Belarus will need to acquire a motor liability insurance policy from a local operator after crossing the border. These insurance policies are not available for purchase online, and Russian authorities have announced that sales points will be located within half a kilometer from the border at most. However, the existence of such sales points near the border has not been confirmed yet.

When obtaining an insurance policy from a Russian company, any loss events will be processed locally, and compensation will be paid in Russian rubles to a Russian bank account. The Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre will not handle road accidents that occur in Russia, even if a Finnish vehicle is involved.

The change in the Green Card collaboration will not affect the coverage for those who experience a traffic accident in Finland. The Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre can be contacted for any damage caused in Finland by a vehicle from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), such as a Russian vehicle.

Russian and Belarusian vehicles used in Finland and other European countries are currently covered by a motor liability insurance policy based on the Green Card agreement. However, after the international Green Card agreement expires on May 31, these insurance policies will no longer be valid outside the countries' borders. Owners of these vehicles must obtain a frontier motor liability insurance policy instead. The Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre emphasizes that in Finland, a vehicle must have a valid insurance policy, even if it is not used on the roads.

Thousands of vehicles will be prohibited from driving overnight due to the policy change. Jumppanen urges Russians living in Finland to understand the seriousness of the matter and purchase an insurance policy well in advance. The police may remove license plates from uninsured vehicles, and in addition to retroactive insurance payments, other sanctions may be imposed.

A frontier motor liability insurance policy can be purchased in advance during May. These policies are available at border crossings and at the Finnish Motor Insurers' Centre in Helsinki. The price is the same everywhere, and the insurance coverage of the frontier motor liability insurance is equivalent to that of Finnish motor liability insurance. If an accident occurs in Finland, the personal injuries of the driver responsible for the accident will also be covered.

The Green Card system is an international certificate of valid motor liability insurance that facilitates car travel abroad. It eliminates the need for drivers to obtain separate local motor liability insurance in countries included in the system.

In Finland, an electronic Green Card that confirms the validity of an insurance policy can be obtained free of charge from the motor liability insurer. Typically provided as a black and white PDF file, it should be printed and kept on hand while traveling.

Motor liability insurance granted in Finland is automatically valid within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. Therefore, requesting a Green Card from the insurer is not mandatory for travel to these countries. However, carrying the Green Card simplifies the process in the event of a traffic accident.

For non-EEA countries participating in the Green Card system, it is essential to always carry the Green Card while driving. When entering countries outside the Green Card system, drivers must acquire valid motor liability insurance at the border to comply with local regulations and ensure coverage.