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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. 

  • Do I need to tell them what countries I will be visiting? Are the rules different depending on where I intend to travel?

    Travelling to EU member states only – the Green Card document itself is designed so it can be used in the same way across every EU member state. The Green Card will specify which countries you are allowed to drive in. Under the current rules, it will always cover you for each EU member state. However, your insurer may still ask you to confirm which countries you intend to travel to.   

    Travelling to a Green Card country that is not an EU member state – you will need to inform your insurer which countries you will be visiting as you will not be automatically be covered for driving in any country outside the EU, even if they are part of the Green Card system.    

  • I run a business where I employ drivers who regularly cross the border into the EU. Can I arrange their insurance for them or will they need their own documents?  

    As an employer, you will be able to arrange insurance cover on behalf of your employees, as you do today.   

    However, each of your employees will have an individual legal responsibility to carry these documents. Driving for employment or business purposes would not exempt anyone from needing to carry a Green Card.   

  • Can I use the documents insurers provide to rent or borrow a vehicle while I am in an EU member state? 

    No. If Green Card documents are provided, this will only apply to your own UK-registered vehicle.  If you want to rent or borrow a vehicle, you will need to arrange insurance separately and your Green Card will not cover this.   

     

  • What happens if I am involved in an accident abroad that I may be wholly or partly responsible for – do I need to contact my insurer? 

    Yes. You will need to contact your insurer as soon as possible. You will also need to ask for the insurance details of the other driver and we would also strongly recommend you gather as much evidence as you can about what happened in the accident, including taking photos if possible.

  • Do I need a European Accident Statement?

    No. The European Accident Statement is a standardised document to make it easier for drivers involved in an accident to exchange facts, but you are not required to carry a copy of the European Accident Statement in your car. Your insurer may provide you with a copy alongside your Green Card.  

  • What help will I receive if I am involved in an accident that was not my fault while driving in the EU?  

    Through the Green Card scheme, the UK has well-established relationships with motor insurers in each member state to facilitate the settlement of claims for any incidents involving cross-border drivers.  

    However, the current ‘visiting victims’ arrangement for when a UK citizen is injured in a car accident in another EU member state will not be in place if the UK exits the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. If you need to make an insurance claim against an EU-registered insurer, you will be subject to the local legal system and your claim may be treated differently to how it would be in the UK.    

  • If I do not intend to use my car in another EU member state and only plan to drive in the UK, will this have any impact on my car insurance?  

    No. If you do not intend to use your car outside of the UK, you will not need to arrange for your insurer to issue you with a Green Card and there will not be any impact on your insurance cover.  

  • Will the rules for driving abroad change after Britain officially leaves?

    In addition to the potential changes to insurance rules, there will be a number of significant changes to driving rules and licensing requirements that take effect on if we leave the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement. You will need to comply with all these requirements under the terms of your motor insurance policy. 

    The Department for Transport has produced a series of guidance notices on the impact of Brexit on Driving and Transport – available here.  

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.