Spring is in the air, there is a renewed sense of optimism now the end of Lockdown 3.0 is in sight, and people are starting to plan things to look forward to after a particularly difficult 12 months. For some, this includes a much needed and long overdue overseas holiday.

Now that the UK has left the European Union, we have put together this guide to outline where you stand with regard to travel insurance and medical cover and, if you are planning to take your own vehicle overseas, driving within the EU.

Travel Insurance and Medical Cover

If you are planning to travel within Europe, it is important to be aware that you will still be able to get medical care if you need it. You can access medical care by having:

  • A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) AND
  • travel insurance with medical expenses cover

UK-issued European Health Insurance cards (EHICs) are still valid and offer the same cover as Global Health Insurance Cards (GHICs) in the EU. Once your EHIC has expired, you’ll be able to replace it with a GHIC.

The healthcare system in each country is different, and in some countries or in private hospitals, despite you presenting a valid Health Insurance Card, you will be asked to pay for some of your treatment or care. This is why travel insurance is essential and can help to cover the costs of medical care if you fall ill or have an accident while you are abroad. The cost of medical care or treatment can run in to thousands of pounds.

Travel insurance is not just designed to cover cancellations. A comprehensive policy might include cover for emergency medical and dental treatment, medical repatriation if you are in a serious condition and need to return home, the costs for a friend or family member that needs to stay with you if you are hospitalised or paying for the missed portion of a trip and your return journey home once you are able to do so. This is in addition to cover provided for lost or stolen items or documents. Travel insurance is just as important as remembering to take your passport.

Driving in the European Union

There are certain changes that you need to be aware of if you are considering driving in your own car, van or motorcycle from the UK to EU countries. This will not affect you if you decide to hire a car in the country you are visiting.

Even though the UK has agreed a trade deal with the EU, at present, this doesn’t allow the UK to be part of the Green Card Free Circulation Area, which includes all 30 European Economic Area (EEA) countries as well as Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland. Until further notice, if you drive to Europe, you MUST have a printed motor insurance Green Card.

You will have to ask your insurance provider to send you a Green Card and it is best to give your provider at least six weeks’ notice for them to issue it. They may post it, email it or send a link for you to download it, but you MUST print it and take it with you. The European police and border control authorities are not allowed to accept an electronic copy. If you are planning to tow a caravan or trailer, you MUST have a separate Green Card for that as well.

Most countries will insist you put a GB sticker on your vehicle. Prior to travel, it is advisable to check if there are different motor laws in the country you are travelling to or passing through.

Tony Buckingham, Managing Director of Buckingham Insurance says “If you are planning a trip overseas and have any questions with regard to Travel Insurance or taking your own vehicle, then please do get in touch. Buckingham Insurance remains open for business during this Lockdown.

Please contact us or telephone one of our friendly staff on 01246 575 625 (Clowne) or 01773 748 627 (Ripley). They will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.”