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Old 25 Sep 2014
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Balkans Insurance - Here's the story, with details & sample documents

************************************************** ********
An update, posted July 2023:

HUBB member kileyshields recently made a very informative post providing far more up-to-date (summer 2023) information that what is contained in this discussion. The link to that post is:

Balkans Insurance: Price and Duration for Insurance Purchased at Borders in Balkans.

There is still a lot of good information below in this (older) post, and it is worth reading through it, but do first read the newer information (link directly above) before coming back and browsing through this post.

************************************************** ********

Hello All:

In August and September of 2104, I rode through all the Balkan countries (excepting Serbia) on my Canadian plated motorcycle. I was a little uncertain of what the problems and protocols with insurance coverage would be. I knew that some of these countries were included in the European 'green card' coverage that I obtained from Mototouring in Milan, Italy, however, a number of Balkan countries were specifically excluded from this policy.

The purpose of this post is to document my experience and provide information to other forum members who may plan to ride through the Balkan countries in the future.

Because my moto is registered in Canada (not Europe), I obtained European 'green card' tourist insurance coverage from Mototouring in Milan, Italy. This process has been well documented elsewhere in the HUBB, notably at this post: Here is where you get the cheap European green card insurance. There are other vendors besides Mototouring of the same European tourist insurance, some cheaper, some more expensive. All the details are in the previously mentioned discussion, I won't review them here.

As of 2014, the 'generic' green card insurance from Mototouring includes coverage for Slovenia (SLO) and Croatia (HR), as well as Romania (RO) and Bulgaria (BG). That makes sense, because those 4 Balkan region countries are either full members of the EU or somewhere along the process towards becoming members of the EU.

Balkan countries that are not covered - in other words, explicitly excluded by being crossed out with an X on the form - include Bosnia & Herzegovina (BIH), Montenegro (MNE), Albania (AL), Macedonia (MK), and Serbia (SRB). Kosovo, which has adopted the identifier RKS, does not appear anywhere on the green card form (either as included or excluded), this probably due to the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo about independence of Kosovo. But, as will be shown later on, Kosovo does issue insurance for their country.

Below is the coverage document (the 'green card') from Mototouring. You can see the included and excluded countries. The insurance company charges €80 for one month coverage, Mototouring adds a markup for their processing service and charges €118.

Mototouring (Italian Insurance) Tourist Coverage 2014


The first country I reached that was not included in the above 'green card' was Bosnia & Herzegovina. Unfortunately, I elected to cross into BiH from Croatia at the border crossing near Stmica, and I discovered that BiH insurance was not sold at that border crossing. I suppose that makes sense, because it is a small border crossing on a secondary highway. Fortunately, it was early in the afternoon on a warm sunny day, and at the suggestion of the Bosnian border guards, I backtracked a little and rode south 100 kilometers to the border crossing near Kamensko, where the guards assured me that insurance would be available.

That taught me a valuable lesson, though, which was to not assume that insurance would be available at every border crossing of every country. From that point on, I stuck to the main highways when crossing borders.

At the Kamensko crossing into Bosnia, I learned how the routine worked for crossing the border and getting the insurance. It was the same in every country that followed, and it goes like this:

1) Pull up at the border crossing (immigration and customs), hand over your passport, and tell the guard you need to buy insurance.

2) The guard does all the immigration formalities (passport stamps, looks at your vehicle ownership, etc.), then retains your passport and directs you to the insurance hut, which is inevitably within 50 meters of the guard's hut.

3) You move your moto out of the way, get off, go into the insurance hut with your vehicle papers, buy the insurance (typically takes 5 minutes or so), then go back (on foot) to see the guard.

4) The guard then gives you back your passport once they see you holding the insurance document. They never bother to look at the document.

In every country, without exception, the border guards were courteous if not downright friendly. The insurance clerks, on the other hand, ranged from quite friendly and efficient (one of them) to dishonest and slow-witted (one of them). The average was bored and inefficient.

It is very much to the advantage of the rider to know ahead of time what the insurance should cost for each country, and to have exact change (in Euros, always) to pay for the insurance. If you don't know what it should cost, you run the risk of being deliberately overcharged by the insurance clerk. If you don't have exact change, you can count on the insurance clerk telling you that he has no change, this in an attempt to keep your change.

Anyway, Bosnian insurance at the first crossing was pretty simple, €10 for one week. The clerk recorded €8 on the form and explained something about the other €2 being a tax. I didn't understand his explanation, but for €2, I wasn't about to protest. Below is the document.

Bosnia & Herzegovina - first entry


The next country I entered was Montenegro. Same process, this time it cost €10 for 15 days of coverage. By now, I had figured out that it didn't make any difference what kind of moto I had, a motorcycle was a motorcycle, as far as all these countries were concerned. As you can see, the document is pretty perfunctory - no VIN, no address, just a licence plate number.

Montenegro


Next was Albania. Compared to the first two countries, Albania was pretty technologically advanced. In exchange for my €12.80 (I think the price fluctuates a bit from day to day based on exchange rates), I received a very official looking document, complete with gold foil seal, fully suitable for framing. The insurance agent rounded the price up to €15, this because neither he or I had any Euro coins.

Albania


I left Albania into Greece, where I had coverage based on the Mototouring document shown above. After Greece, I rode north into Macedonia.

Macedonia is the 'odd country out', in the sense that they charge €50 for 15 days' coverage (everyone else is about €10 to €15 for a week or two). Don't let that discourage you from visiting Macedonia, besides being a delightful country, everything else there - hotels, food, cigs, booze, and fuel - is dirt cheap, and in the big scheme of things, that makes up for the slightly pricier insurance.

The Macedonian insurance clerk was quite apologetic about the €50 charge... it was clear to me that lots of riders had told him that every other country charged less. He was pretty friendly and told me about a number of good moto roads that he thought I might enjoy. He also took the time to explain that the insurance was priced in Macedonian currency (3,050 of them, whatever they are), but that that amount was equal to €50, which he noted was written on the insurance document.

Macedonia


Kosovo won the prize for being most meticulous about making sure all the details were correct on their insurance document. The agent actually got up and went outside to visually verify the licence plate on my moto. In exchange for my €15, I received a very nice little A5 size document, with a gold seal on it, also suitable for framing.

Kosovo


I left Kosovo headed to the northeast, back into Bosnia. This is where things got interesting. I was expecting to pay another €8 or €10 a week of coverage, but it seems that at this particular border crossing (on R-8 / R-106, between Peje and Rozaje), insurance is offered by a different insurance company. This time, the fee was 40 Bosnian Marks (€21) for 3 days of coverage. I was a bit surprised. The insurance agent took pains to show me all his company documents that set out the prices, and filled in the receipt properly. I don't think he took advantage of me, I think that either he had out of date information (it was a small, remote border crossing), or it was simply a case of a different insurance underwriter and different fees.

In any case, that did lead me to conclude that Bosnia was the least organized of all the countries that I visited, so far as insurance was concerned. Here's the document:

Bosnia (second entry)


I did not visit Serbia. I was concerned that I might have difficulty entering Serbia from Kosovo, or difficulty entering Serbia from Bosnia with Kosovo stamps in my passport. Perhaps someone else can post their experience with Serbian border insurance.

Anyway - that's the story of my summer trip, insurance-wise. I hope this information is useful to other riders.

To sum up, some suggestions:

1) Always lift your helmet visor and remove your sunglasses before arriving at the border guard post. That shows courtesy to the guards, and they always returned the courtesy. The border guards of every country I visited were extremely friendly and courteous.

2) Have exact change to pay for the insurance, because the insurance clerks will never have change available.

3) Have the motorcycle papers (registration) in had both at the border guard post and the insurance office, both folks will always ask to see them.

Michael

Last edited by PanEuropean; 10 Jul 2023 at 03:15.
  #2  
Old 2 Nov 2014
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Thanks for the write-up, Michael. I was looking for just such info earlier this year as I was headed to the same area this september on my CA (that's California) plated bike. Plans changed so I only visited Slovenia, Croatia, and a small corner of Bosnia. For me, it was interesting that Croatia was meticulous about stamping my passport in and out, whereas when I got to that corner of Bosnia, the Bosnian customs guy just waved me on through looking somewhat annoyed that I was interrupting his snooze...
  #3  
Old 25 Nov 2014
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Re Serbian borders.
No set rules, depends on the weather I think.
I have ridden a Southern Cyprus plated Motorcycle, U.K. and Serbian registered cars into and out of Serbia through, Serbia to Croatia and back. Serbia to Bosnia and back. Serbia to Romania and back. Serbia to Hungary and back. not once was I asked for insurance of any sort and only on occasion asked for vehicle registration...
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Old 26 Nov 2014
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That's pretty more or less normal way of doing things there, until something happens, and then you better have your policy ready
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Old 15 Dec 2014
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Great Post well done
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Old 2 Jan 2015
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Great post, thanks. It seems that the Balkans can be expensive for the non-Europeans.

Note that re: small border posts, I've entered into Albania through a small border, and although the country was crossed off on my green card (French-registered), they didn't notice or didn't bother.

I've never been pulled over by police in Albania so I don't know if they would check it, and of course in case of accident that wouldn't be a smart move, so I wouldn't advise skipping the insurance purchase, but that was my only option anyway short of a detour of a 100 kms or so.

Laurent
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Old 12 Apr 2015
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Thanks

Just the info I was looking for and laid out in a way that's easy to understand and reasonably up to date .
Thanks PanEuropean/Michael
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Old 13 Apr 2015
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Great info, thanks

Wayne


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Old 20 Apr 2015
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Will be photshopping my name on to those documents and deleting any of your info relating to you ofcourse quick smart haha, thank you sir,
If I was to go into these little insurance con mens offices and spend five minutes looking at the wall then leave and show the customs agent a forged copy do you think the insurance pricks would bother to get off their fat arse and tell the customs guy that i didnt actually buy anything? maybe would work at some not not others?


I know its risky please no comments about maybe hitting and killing a small family and their pet pommerianian and the jail time associated with that Im a big boy
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Old 20 Apr 2015
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Quote:
Im a big boy
Might be safer if you stayed back in Brisbane then where you are loved and admired.
And given the HUUUUGGGGE cost of being properly insured in these countries - at least equivalent to 5 litres of fuel per country - so much cheaper for you.
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Old 20 Apr 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaneBaby View Post
...If I was to go into these little insurance con mens offices and spend five minutes looking at the wall then leave and show the customs agent a forged copy do you think the insurance pricks would bother to get off their fat arse and tell the customs guy that i didnt actually buy anything?
Hello Shane:

Whether you could get past the customs guy is the least of your concerns. Your main concern would be what happens if you get stopped by police in a routine spot check enroute and they discover the forgery, or what happens if you have an accident (just a little fender-bender, maybe you sideswipe someone and scratch their wing mirror) and the forgery - or outright lack of insurance, if you choose not to show the forged document - is discovered during the accident documentation.

The average cost of insurance for any one country was about 15 Euro, with Macedonia being the one exception at 50 Euro. When you consider how much it will cost you to travel from Australia to the Balkans, the cost of road insurance really isn't that much more.

Maybe just work a few more shifts at the McDonald's before you leave, that should generate enough extra cash to enable you to purchase the appropriate insurance.

Michael
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Old 5 May 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lbendel View Post
...It seems that the Balkans can be expensive for the non-Europeans.
Hi Laurant:

Although at first glance it might seem like the additional insurance charges are expensive, those costs are more than offset by the much lower cost of fuel, food, and lodging in the various countries of former Yugoslavia.

I toted up all my travel expenses in the fall, after I returned home, and the per-week cost of touring former Yugoslavia was significantly less than the per-week cost of touring Europe (where I have spent my summers for the past 10 years).

So, be happy when you fork over the €15 or so at each border, because you will effectively get it all back the first time you fill up your fuel tank, or buy a nice dinner.

Michael
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Old 26 Jul 2015
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Thanks for the detailed post. I'm in Croatia today and heading to Bosnia tomorrow. i'll post what happens, especially if it is vastly different to what is already here.
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Old 27 Jul 2015
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It was like the man said, almost.

I pulled up at the passport window and handed over my passport. He asked for my Green card and I said I needed insurance. He told me to park at the side,walk over to the kiosk buy insurance and come back to get my passport.

That I did and it all took 15 minutes. No hassle no hawkers not even anyone trying to change money.

EXCEPT I cost me 42 euros for 15 days. The man showed me the 'table' which said a motorcycle for 15 days would be 42 euros. Perhaps I choose an expensive insurance company but it was the only kiosk around.

Incidentally I crossed at Bosanska, heading to Banja Luka from Zagreb on the 16.

I stopped for petrol and they changed money for me. All very easy.
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Old 28 Dec 2015
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Originally Posted by Lonesome George View Post
...EXCEPT I cost me 42 euros for 15 days. The man showed me the 'table' which said a motorcycle for 15 days would be 42 euros.
I think Bosnia is perhaps a little disorganized - relative to the other countries - so far as short-term insurance for visitors is concerned. As I noted in my original post above, I paid two very different prices for Bosnian insurance when I entered the country twice, one month apart.

I'm pretty sure that the people selling the insurance were honest, in the sense that they didn't cheat me in any way. Best guess I can make is that there are a variety of different private insurance companies selling the short-term insurance (rather than one quasi-governmental authority, as is the case in most other countries), and the prices vary from company to company.

All in all, though, the very low cost of food and hotels in the former Yugoslavian countries more than makes up for the need to buy insurance coverage at the border of just about every one of them south of Slovenia and Croatia.

Michael
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