Brexit- it is a topic which continues to dominate discussions, with everyone wondering what exactly is going on and how will they be impacted. Travel is no exception, with travellers concerned about how future holiday in Europe will be affected. That’s why, at Insurancewith, we want to help set your minds at ease by answering some of your Travel-Brexit queries.
Cover will vary depending on the level of cover you purchase; however, some key elements to consider below. For more information on cover an Insurancewith policy can offer, please click here.
Emergency Medical Expenses
The UK parliament must come to a neutral decision regarding the approval of the Withdrawal Agreement in order for it to pass. Whether or not this will happen is unknown – what we do know however is that the UK has until October 31st to get this deal agreed. If an agreement cannot be decided upon, we may then face what is known as a ‘hard Brexit.’
Put simply, both parties would go their separate ways, and any previous agreements would become void. This is something we can only hope that both sides avoid, as the consequences could be significant, especially for travel.
As a member of the EU, the only current requirement for UK travellers is that they have a passport that is valid on the date they return home, to the UK. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, UK travellers will be required to have a passport that extends beyond their date of return, although the actual terms are yet to be finalised.
If there is a hard Brexit, the suggestion is that UK travellers would be treated the same as travellers from non-EU countries, meaning UK passports must have a validity of at least three months beyond the departure date from the EU and it must have been issued within the last 10 years.
In preparation for the passport changes, the UK Government has issued a technical notice on passports, recommending travellers check their passport has a minimum of 6 months left on them, from the date they return to the UK.
There is useful passport checker prepared by the UK Government, which you can find here .
The EU has publicised its intention to permit UK travellers (no matter the Brexit outcome) to travel to the Schengen area for short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, without needing a visa – providing the UK allow EU travellers similar freedom.
In 2021, this will all change. UK travellers will then be part of the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which is comparable to the ESTA regime used when travelling to the US. The ETIAS system will ensure each traveller to the Schengen area is doing so with an electronic travel authority (ETA), provided prior to travel. Each ETA can be applied for online, is valid for 3 years and costs 7 euros.
Prior to boarding, airlines and ferry/cruise companies will need to make sure that UK travellers have been issued a valid travel authorisation.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) has always been a trusty travel companion when visiting EU destinations. It ensures you are entitled to free or discounted treatment in public hospitals. The UK Government wants UK and EU Nationals to be able to continue using the EHIC in the future.
In the event of a hard Brexit, any entitlement to use the EHIC will be stripped immediately. Travellers should therefore make sure they have suitable travel insurance that provides cover for any medical emergencies.
Travellers should also be aware that, in any circumstance, a UK issued medical prescription will be invalid in all EU pharmacies. Therefore, any travellers taking regular prescribed medication should ensure that they take enough to last the duration of their trip, and that they store it in original packaging within their hand luggage, just in case hold luggage is delayed or lost.
The current, ‘open skies’ agreement has been negotiated with other countries on behalf of EU members (UK included), on the basis of air safety regulators of each individual member (in the UK it is the Civil Aviation Authority) applying agreed safety standards.
By leaving the EU, the UK will no longer be eligible for this arrangement. The UK Government has already come to agreements to fly to the USA and Canada, as well as most long-haul destinations.
The likelihood of UK carriers flying scheduled air services to an EU country, or any other country within the EU agreement, depends on the UK Government coming to an agreement with those countries. The EU Commission has recently stated that if The UK leave the EU with no deal, then there will be no transition period, and UK travellers can expect “significant disruption” at the borders.
As well as this, passengers who are catching a connecting flight and stopping over in an EU airport, will not have to undergo additional security checks.
A hard Brexit on the other hand could cause significant problems, as UK airlines may not be able to fly from an EU airport to a destination other than the UK.
Currently, UK residents are able to drive in any EU country so long as they are using a full UK drivers license. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, this will continue.
However, in the case of a hard Brexit, UK drivers will be required to purchase an international driving permit (IDP), accessible from the Post Office, for £5.50.
There are 3 different types of IDP, and depending on your trip, you may need more than one.
You will need:
You will not need an IDP to drive in the Republic of Ireland, no matter the Brexit outcome.
If you have already been issued an IDP, check to see if you can use it in the country you are going to.
You can find out more about the IDP here.
As part of current EU agreements, all member states are within a ‘free circulation zone-’ meaning vehicles from those countries can travel without paperwork regarding insurance.
If there is a hard Brexit, this arrangement will no longer be valid for UK motorists, and they will have to carry a Green Card on their person. A Green Card refers to a (green) paper document, which states that in the case of a claim, the car insurance provider will pay out.
The Department of Transport has issued this helpful guide.
The Association Of British Insurers also has a helpful Q&A section to help motorists.
No matter the Brexit outcome, travellers will still be entitled to duty free allowances on certain goods, however such allowances could vary, between those entering the EU and those entering the UK.
For travel to the EU, information on the goods involved, and allowances, can be obtained from the European Commission website.
It is likely that the rules that currently apply to people coming to the UK from outside the EU, will now also apply to those coming from the EU. This means there will no longer be the blue customs channel in the arrival halls, so travellers will have the option between the red and green channels only.
UK traveller will still be entitled to VAT refunds on certain goods purchased within the EU, as long as they show customs relevant VAT refund documentation on departure.
As part of the current EU regulations, travellers on package holidays are entitled to some rights under the Package Travel Directive (EU) 2015/2302. The UK Government has already introduced this into UK law under The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018, in preparation for Brexit.
Under this legislation, if a customer’s package holiday is cancelled, no matter the reason (other than the customer cancelling or failing to show up to the departure point), the tour organiser is obliged to provide a full refund of all payments.
Research suggests that, if a package has been booked before the October 31st 2019, and an organiser is unable to provide the booked package holiday services as a result of Brexit, the customer would be eligible to a full refund (but no additional compensation).
The situation becomes more difficult if the traveller has separately booked each element of their trip, before the October 31st.
If we face a hard Brexit, an airline may be grounded and therefore unable to fly. In this instance you would receive a full refund for the flight from the airline. However, you could not expect a full refund on your accommodation, as, from the accommodation provider’s point of view, the villa or hotel was still fully available to you. In this case, there is little that can be done.
The legislation adopted by the UK Government (discussed above) allows for tour operators to fluctuate the price of the package holiday, however only under certain circumstances.
There are rules that apply, namely:
As part of the EU Regulation 261/2004, travellers are able to claim compensation up to €600 (based on length of delay and flight duration) from the airline. However, delays caused by things outside of the airline’s control for example dangerous weather do not qualify for this.
The EU Commission have announced, that if the UK leaves the EU with no deal on April 12th, then there will be no transition period and UK travellers can expect ‘significant disruption’ at the borders.
Sadly, there is always the possibility that a tour operator, airline, accommodation provider or another supplier of a trip component could struggle financially following a hard Brexit.
As part of current EU regulations travellers on package holidays have some rights under the Package Travel Directive (EU) 2015/2302. This has now been introduced into UK law under The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations 2018. This confirms that tour operators are obligated to protect customer’s funds either through an insurance arrangement, or through a specified trust bank account. Travellers booking through the majority of UK travel agents and tour operators will be protected either by the ABTA and ATOL bonding schemes, or something comparable to the Travel Trust Association.
Travellers who have made their own travel and accommodation arrangements, may have some protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, providing they purchased using a credit or debit card.
If neither option applies to you, travellers should be able to claim on their travel insurance, so long as they have selected a policy which provides End Supplier Failure cover. At Insurancewith, we offer this, across many of our policies, click here for more information.
This section of cover also applies if a tour operator, airline, accommodation provider or another supplier of a trip component stops trading whilst you are away. In this case the policy will provide cover to get you home with a service of a comparable standard as originally booked.
The EU and UK have both acknowledged that there must be what is referred to as ‘continuity of cover’ across any insurance policies underwritten by UK and EU registered insurers.
This means that any policy purchased post-Brexit will be valid and cover will remain the same as the policy wording at the time of purchase.
Any customers who are travelling in EU the Schengen area when Brexit happens will also continue to be covered.
For more information click here.