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Travelling to the EU in the case of a No-Deal Brexit

What do I need to know?

Motor insurance

If the UK leaves the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement in place, and in the absence of a specific agreement to the contrary, you will need to ensure you carry a physical Green Card while driving your vehicle in the European Economic Area (EEA) and some other countries (Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland). A list of EEA countries is available here

Green Cards are an international certificate of insurance issued by insurance providers in the UK, guaranteeing that the motorist has the necessary minimum motor insurance cover for driving in the country being travelled to. 

You should contact your insurer as far in advance of your trip as possible to ensure you receive the Green Card in time for your trip. 

  • Will I still be able to use my insurance to drive in other EU member states after Brexit?

    Yes. All UK motor insurance providers will continue to provide the legal minimum motor insurance cover for travel to EEA countries. If you are a UK motorist, you will, therefore, not need to purchase additional third-party motor insurance policy cover when travelling to these countries with a UK-registered vehicle. You would continue to hold the same third-party cover that you do now.  

  • Does this apply for driving across the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland border?

    Northern Ireland residents travelling to the Republic of Ireland:
    Yes. You should contact your insurer to arrange for the appropriate Green Card documents. 

    Republic of Ireland residents travelling to Northern Ireland:
    Valid Irish insurance discs will be accepted as proof of insurance for Irish vehicles.

  • Do I need to carry any additional documents if I am driving with a caravan or trailer?

    Yes. If your vehicle is towing a trailer or caravan, you will need two Green Cards. One for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer, or caravan.

  • If I have a multi-car policy will I need a Green Card for each vehicle insured?

    Yes. A Green Card is required to cover the registration number of the individual vehicle, so a Green Card will be needed to cover each vehicle insured under one policy when being driven in the EU. 

  • Do I need to tell my insurer I plan to drive in another EU member state?

    Yes. Policyholders will need to contact their insurer in advance of their trip in order to arrange for Green Card documents to be provided. We would suggest you contact them about one month in advance. This will apply to any motor vehicle and to all forms of motor insurance – including commercial and motor fleet policies.   

    Private motorists are already advised to contact their insurer in advance of overseas travel (including within the EU) to arrange for other aspects of their cover to be extended to the period while driving abroad (including cover for accidental damage to the vehicle). The exact arrangements for this will depend on the level of cover taken out when you bought the policy. These arrangements will continue to apply and will not be affected by the need to carry a Green Card.   

  • Will there be any additional charges?

    It is possible that there may be a small administrative charge associated with the provision of Green Card documents.   

    In addition, if you have a ‘fully comprehensive’ insurance policy, you will need to contact your insurer to check what aspects of this apply while you are driving abroad. Some insurers will allow you to purchase additional cover for when you are driving abroad.

  • Is my insurer ready to issue Green Cards?

    Yes.  Insurers have been preparing for this and will be able to issue Green Cards in time for your trip.

  • Do I need to tell my insurer anything before the date we officially leave the EU?

    Yes. If you are planning a trip to an EU member state during or shortly after a no-deal Brexit, you will need to contact your insurer in advance (about one month) of Exit Day to ensure you have the documentation you need for your trip.  

    Your insurer will issue guidance in advance of the official date for Britain leaving the EU confirming what information will need to be provided and when.  

  • If I have to tell my insurer in advance, how much notice will I need to give?

    In order to allow sufficient time to process documents and to post your Green Card document, you will need to give your insurer sufficient notice of your intention to travel in advance. So, it is best to contact them about one month in advance.   

    It is a requirement that your Green Card document covers a period of a minimum of 15 days. Therefore, if your motor insurance policy is due to expire less than 15 days after the date of travel, you will need to ensure you have confirmed your renewal before you depart (even if your trip is less than 15 days in total).   

    As is the case with other forms of travel documentation, you may also need to allow additional time if you are travelling at a busy period, such as during the summer or around a Bank Holiday.   

    Further guidance will be provided by your insurer in advance of leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement confirming exactly what information you will need to provide and how much notice you will need to give.   

  • What happens if I haven’t been sent a Green Card?

    If you are not carrying a Green Card when it is required, then you will not be able to drive legally in any EU member state. If you do attempt to drive in the EU without holding a Green Card, you may be accused of driving without insurance and could be subject to a fine, having your vehicle seized or prosecution.   

    The only other legal option available would be to purchase insurance locally when you arrive in the country (often known as ‘frontier insurance’). However, such insurance cover may not be widely available and may be more expensive than UK-issued policies.  

  • What if my policy is due for renewal when I am abroad?

    You will need two Green Cards - one for each policy. If you change insurers ask both your existing and your new insurer to provide you with a Green Card.

  • Will I need to show my insurance documents when I cross the border into the EU? Will I also need to show the documents when I move from one EU member state to another? 

    You may be required to show documents at the border when entering the EU, but this will be a decision for the border authorities to take. You may also be subject to police checks while driving abroad and you will also need to be able to present the document at the scene if you are involved in an accident.    

  • Will authorities in EU countries recognise the documents – or could I still be told I need to buy cover from a local insurer while I am driving abroad? 

    EU member states will all recognise the Green Card document. Provided you have these documents, you will not need to purchase additional insurance from a local insurer.   

    The Green Card system has a standardised format that has been agreed by all EU member states (including the UK) and is currently used for travel outside the EU to other Green Card member countries (you can find a full list of Green Card member countries here.)  

  •  If I have comprehensive motor insurance, will this automatically cover me if my car is damaged or stolen abroad?

    All UK motor insurance providers will continue to provide the legal minimum motor insurance cover for travel to EEA countries if the driver is carrying a valid Green Card. You will, therefore, not need to purchase additional third-party motor insurance cover when travelling to these countries with a UK-registered vehicle. 

    Fully comprehensive motor insurance provides coverage for you and your vehicle as well as other people – this is more than is provided by third-party policies. 

    Not all insurers will automatically extend fully comprehensive cover for travel abroad, so it is advisable to carefully read your policy documents and contact your insurer to check what aspects of your policy apply while you are driving abroad. 

  • I drive in the EU regularly in my own private car. Will I need to tell my insurer every time I travel?    

    A Green Card will automatically provide you with a guarantee of insurance for a minimum of 15 days. Insurers can also specify that it covers a longer period if this is required, so ask for this if you need it.   

    However, at the point at which you renew your motor insurance policy, you will also need to ensure you have a new Green Card for your new policy (even if you are still abroad on the date your original policy expires). If you decide to switch to a new insurer, you will need to request a new Green Card from that insurer as well. 

Travel insurance

If the UK leaves the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement in place, and in the absence of a specific agreement to the contrary, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may no longer apply.  This makes it even more important that you have appropriate travel insurance in place to cover medical costs while you are travelling in an EU country, in the same way as you would when travelling to a non-EU country. 

  • What exactly is an EHIC?

    An EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) gives you access to state-provided healthcare available to a resident. You can get it for free from the NHS. However, it is not a substitute for having travel insurance as it will not cover all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK. 

  • Will my travel insurance cover me for the healthcare currently under EHIC?

    Travel insurance policies will cover emergency medical treatment costs as standard that could have been reclaimed through the EHIC, although some routine treatments would not be covered. Travel insurance policies will also continue to cover emergency medical expenses incurred in countries outside of the European Economic Area (EEA - all EU countries, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein). 

    Be aware that there is a small number of policies in the market that state they will only provide cover if you have and use an EHIC.  Customers in this position should check their policy and contact their insurer. 

  • Will entitlement to state healthcare when visiting an EU country cease immediately if we leave with the EU with no deal?

    Yes, although not for those in the EU on exit day. The UK government has said that in the event of the UK leaving with no deal, they will continue to pay for the state healthcare for anyone in the EU on exit day, whether travelling or in residence, for the duration of their stay for up to 6 months following Exit Day. For anyone travelling or moving to the EU after exit day, reciprocal health arrangements will currently cease on exit day.

  • Is the Government seeking to agree any reciprocal health agreements with individual EU states after Exit Day?

    Yes. The Government may be able to agree reciprocal health agreements with individual EU states. Currently, the only agreement to continue arrangements that has been announced is with Spain. Any other agreements may not be known until after exit day.

  • Will my travel insurance policy become more expensive?

    Claims costs within Europe are currently reduced due to the presence of the EHIC, which covers some or all state-provided medical costs in most EEA countries. In the absence of the EHIC or similar reciprocal health agreement, insurers will inevitably see an increase in claims costs – this could have a direct impact on the prices charged to consumers. This will vary depending on the provider. 

  • Will insurers be changing their terms and conditions to accommodate this?

    For many travel policies in the market, the loss of the EHIC is unlikely to lead to a meaningful change to terms and conditions; any reference to the EHIC would simply be irrelevant and customers would still be able to make medical claims. However, for those policies where an EHIC must be in place and used, changes are likely. Pragmatically, insurers would look to make reasonable changes to policy wordings where necessary and to avoid customer confusion. In either case, this does not change what your policy will cover. 

  • I have a pre-existing condition. Will I still be able to afford to travel in Europe?

    Most travel insurance policies already require customers to declare any pre-existing medical conditions and, depending upon the type and severity of conditions, cover is often still available. This process already applies to countries where there are no reciprocal health agreements and will continue to apply for trips within Europe should the EHIC be discontinued. As insurers will incur increased claims costs for treatment received within Europe this could have a direct impact on the prices charged to consumers. This will vary depending on the provider.  

    Without the EHIC protection, it will be even more important to ensure that you have travel insurance that is adequate for your needs and this may involve paying more to protect yourself against significant medical costs when previously you may have chosen to rely upon the EHIC. 

  • I have retired/am planning to retire in France. What access to healthcare will I get?

    Travel insurance will only cover temporary stays abroad, for periods not exceeding the trip duration you have chosen. It does not cover those who are living abroad on a permanent or semi-permanent basis and most travel policies require that, to be eligible for cover, customers have their main home in the UK and are registered with a doctor in the UK. 

  • Will my travel policy compensate me if an airline cancels my travel in the event they are unable to fly to Europe after Brexit?

    If any airline fails to fulfil its obligations after booking, such as cancelling a flight, customers are entitled to a full refund to be claimed direct from the airline for the cost of the flight.  The extra security offered by arranging a package trip and looking for ABTA protection could be especially worthwhile if booking a trip for 2019. 

    Travel insurance may be able to help with any extra cost to you because of a delay to travelling or cover the cost of your holiday when you cannot travel at all because there is no alternative transport available. You should check your policy or contact your insurer to see if it includes cancellation and travel disruption cover and what they will cover you for.  

    Having travel disruption cover in place as part of your travel insurance policy may mean you are covered against some financial losses resulting from delays and cancellations, provided you have exhausted other routes of getting your money back. This could be through airlines, travel agents or your credit card provider. Given the unique circumstances of Brexit you should check with your insurer directly if you are unclear. 

    Travel disruption cover may also offer you some compensation if travel delays have forced you to miss some of your holiday or for the cost of unused bookings, such as a hotel reservation that is non-refundable and unused, due to the flight cancellation.  

  • What is the cost of medical claims settled by EHIC in the most recent year that would have fallen on travel insurers if EHIC had not existed?

    Unfortunately, insurers do not have this level of data at claim level in order to split out between what would and would not be covered under the EHIC.