As we reflect on what, for almost all of us, has been the strangest year in memory, it seems that Brexit has been somewhat overshadowed and the UK has now officially left the European Union. With this in mind, we thought it sensible to provide an update on how your insurance is affected when travelling in Europe after the 1 January 2021.

Looking at motor insurance first, the good news is that there does not appear to be an increased level of obstacles and the main requirement will be that UK motorists carry a 'green card' whenever they travel in Europe.

This is effectively a document issued by your insurer that shows that you have Third Party insurance cover, enabling you to drive legally on the roads of the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Serbia and Andorra from 1 January 2021, including in Ireland. Your UK motor insurance policy continues to provide the level of cover taken out when you purchased the policy which in most cases will be Comprehensive.

UK insurers will continue to provide cover for you to drive abroad so there will be no need to purchase any additional cover as you enter any of the territories mentioned above.

You will need to notify your broker or insurer in advance and obtain a green card for your vehicle and you will need multiple or additional green cards for the following.

  • Individual vehicles travelling abroad – under a motor fleet or motor trade policy for example.
  • Any caravan or trailer being towed.
  • Any situation where more than one policy covers your trip – if the policy renews during your journey for example.

You will need to speak to your broker or insurer to clarify whether they will make an administration charge for issuing the green card and to extend your existing level of cover whilst driving abroad. It is important to remember that the green card serves as proof of Third Party cover alone; not all UK insurers automatically provide Comprehensive cover whilst you drive abroad so you will need to check with your broker or insurer.

We are pleased to confirm that Axa XL and Chubb are both providing policyholders with annual green cards.

However, it is important to remember that the Green Card must name permitted drivers. As a result, it will not be possible to rely upon the cover provided by the policy when (i) the driver is not named; and (ii) the vehicle is being driven within the EEA. If you therefore need cover for any unnamed drivers whilst the vehicle is being driven within the EEA, then you will need to let us know.

This is particularly relevant where your policy provides cover for any unnamed driver (within the terms of the Policy) who (i) does not reside with the Policyholder, as named in the Schedule; and (ii) who is authorised to drive a listed vehicle by the Policyholder.

Once issued, green cards can be printed at home as they will need to be physically presented when required during your journey as electronic copies will not be accepted. For those old enough to remember, you'll be relieved to hear that you won't need to buy green printer paper – white copies with black lettering will be acceptable. Do not add any additional images or words or print in colour as this may not be acceptable to the authorities.

The way in which green card will be issued will vary between insurers. Some may provide one automatically and others may require advance notification. In any event, you should contact your broker or insurer 6 weeks before you plan to travel to find out what their process is.

You may need to produce your green card at a border crossing but this is likely to vary between countries and likewise you may be required to produce one should you be involved in an accident.

The other significant change is that UK vehicles must display a GB sticker, irrespective of whether they have one displayed on the registration plate.

Other guidance as regards documents and equipment you should carry in your vehicle can be found here.

The UK Government continues to work on the UK remaining part of the green card free zone (as is the case currently) at the end of the transition period and we will of course update you if this happens and the requirement for a green card changes at any time going forward.

Turning to home cover, the news again is positive.

Whilst there will be changes to how we can travel into Europe, including the number of days per trip and during the year, the insurers with whom we work have confirmed that, at this stage, there will be no changes as a result of Brexit, to the terms and conditions for policies covering holiday homes abroad or travel insurance policies. Again, should this change, we will let you know immediately.