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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. 

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

  • 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 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.

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) will 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. 

  • 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.

  • 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.   

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

    Yes. Even when the caravan / trailer has the same licence plate number as your car, it’s expected you’ll need a separate Green Card for what you’re towing. Make sure you tell your insurer if you’re going to be taking a caravan or trailer with you so they can send you the extra document.

  • Will I need to carry any documents to prove I have the right insurance cover?

    Yes - a physical copy of your Green Card. 

    Green Cards are an international certificate of insurance issued by insurance providers in the UK, guaranteeing that the motorist has the necessary third-party motor insurance cover for driving in the country being travelled to. Green Cards are guaranteed through agreements between the countries that issue them. The Green Card acts as a guarantee that the driver’s insurer will honour any claims made against the insurance policy for incidents taking place while they are driving within the EU.  

    Under existing EU law, only vehicles from countries that are part of the European motor insurance ‘free circulation zone’ can drive in the EU without needing to carry paper documents. All EU member states are automatically part of the ‘free circulation zone’, but non-EU countries must apply to be part of this system.  

    The Department for Transport has published a guidance document confirming that if the UK leaves the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement, it expects that the UK will not be part of the ‘free circulation zone’ on Exit Day.  

    In this scenario, drivers would need to carry a Green Card document to prove that they have valid insurance cover for their vehicle.  

    Under current international rules, Green Cards are physical paper documents printed on green paper.  

  • 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.