While the UK Parliament and the EU is still struggling to come to an arrangement over how the country will leave the union, insurers are warning those travelling to the continent about the changes that are almost guaranteed to happen.
In the latest news, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is attempting to secure a Brexit deal at an EU summit on October 17.
But hopes of any deal are fading fast after EU sources rejected his new proposal for “two borders” in Northern Ireland.
French President Emmanuel Macron gave the UK a deadline of this Friday to compromise – as the PM ramped up his no-deal Brexit rhetoric.
But while it remains to be seen if there will be a Brexit deal, or a ‘no deal’ brexit, travel insurance firm Allianz Assistance UK is advising what people should consider when booking a holiday or travelling to Europe after October 31 2019.
Lee Taylor, chief sales officer at Allianz Partners UK, said: “Whether there’s a deal or not, the one thing we’re sure of post October 31 is people will continue to travel to Europe.
“Although the date has ghoulish connotations, people needn’t be scared or worried; planning and being aware of what needs to be done and where to find out relevant information is the key to having a successful trip to Europe post-Brexit.”
The changes after Brexit
First and foremost, anyone travelling overseas will need to check the date their passport expires.
The Government recommends six months are left on your passport on the date of your arrival in an EU country. However, if you have renewed a 10-year adult passport before it expired, you’ll need to check to see if extra months have been added to the expiry date; these extra months will not count towards the 6 months that must be remaining.
Use the government website tool to check the validity of your passport under these rules.
You will not need a visa. Even if we leave without a deal, the European Parliament has confirmed UK citizens won’t need a visa to travel to the EU and will be able to do so for up to 90 days within a 180-day period.
Flights will continue to operate. The Euopean Commission has said UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU, and the UK Government has offered similar assurances for EU airlines.
“It is worth noting though, many travel insurance policies will not cover Brexit-related travel disruption, such as delayed flights or ferries resulting in the need for additional accommodation.
“If a holiday is scheduled for a trip around the time Britain is set to leave the EU, holidaymakers should consider their options,” advises Lee Taylor.
“Insurance is the fund of last resort for travel disruption. Holidaymakers should contact their travel provider or airline in the first instance, and customers who have purchased an ABTA protected trip or have used a credit card, will have additional consumer protection.”
British citizens are currently entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country.
“However, UK registered EHICs will no longer be valid in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” says Lee Taylor.
Whilst the Government is taking steps to protect health protect healthcare access for UK nationals living in the EU after 31 October, these new measures do not apply to anyone travelling to Europe on holiday after exit day.
There has been news that EHIC arrangements will continue in Spain after the UK leaves the EU and the country passed legislation to guarantee continued healthcare access to British residents and tourists after Brexit, as long as certain reciprocal conditions for its own citizens are met.
Nevertheless, the details of EHIC access in other EU countries is unlikely to be known until after exit day.
Holidaymakers should check their insurance policy covers for any pre-existing medical conditions and medical emergencies, including repatriation. People who hold annual policies will need to check with their provider for any changes.
“While we do look at claims on a case by case basis, our travel insurance policy will most likely still cover any medical assistance required when on holiday post-Brexit, subject to disclosing any pre-existing medical conditions,” confirms Lee Taylor.
“This is irrespective of any changes that might be made to EHIC status and reciprocal medical care available in Europe, as a result of Britain leaving the EU.”
Currently drivers with a full UK driving licence don’t need an additional licence to drive in the EU. “However, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in October, then an International Driving Permit (IDP) will be needed alongside a main driving licence, if you are planning to drive whilst you are on your travels.
This could apply if you are taking your own car abroad or hiring a car at your European destination,” says Lee Taylor.
“It is also really important that you know exactly what you need before you set off because to make things slightly more complicated, there are three different IDPs currently in use and you may need more than one depending on the country that you are visiting.
But be warned, the Post Office will probably see an increase in customers looking to purchase an IDP, so if you are heading abroad after 31 October, you might want to secure one sooner rather than later.
For UK citizens driving their own cars to the EU, if the UK leaves without a deal, a physical Green Card is needed for UK car insurance to be applicable in the EU. Check with your insurer. “These cards would be issued by insurers and you may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs,” says Lee Taylor.
“There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, but if travellers check the ABTA and Government website for updates before they go, and their travel insurance, they will enjoy their time in Europe with peace of mind all bases are covered,” concludes Lee Taylor.