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Latest updates

We’re aware that many of our customers will have travel bookings for the summer holiday season and beyond and will be concerned about how Brexit may affect their travel plans. Please keep an eye on the Columbus website and blog for further updates on Brexit. 

We will be updating this page with the latest information if any of the information above changes


Will Brexit affect my flights?

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, both the European Commission and the British Government have issued reassurances that flights will be permitted to operate between EU countries and the UK.

This is part of a ‘no deal’ contingency action plan on the part of the European Commission, which has the aim of mitigating areas of potential disruption as far as possible – including air travel, climate and customs regulations, amongst others. However, this does not replace current EU regulations like-for-like, and so does not guarantee the smooth continuation of flights.

The UK government has issued advice to travellers with travel planned after 31st October here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/passenger-travel-to-the-eu-by-air-rail-or-sea-after-brexit

Air Passenger Rights

It remains unclear if any measures will be put in place by the UK government to replace the current EU Air Passenger Regulations which protect travellers in the event their flight is delayed or cancelled, or if you’re downgraded or bumped from a flight due to overbooking.

Under these regulations, you currently have certain rights when you fly which can be viewed on the Civil Aviation Authority website here: https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-travel-problems/Delays-cancellations/Your-rights/Your-rights-when-you-fly/

The regulations cover passengers travelling from or arriving in EU countries operated by any airline, or on flights elsewhere which are provided by EU carriers. Under these rules, passengers can expect to receive offers of alternative flights, refunds or in some cases compensation, if their flight is delayed or cancelled. The airline also has obligations regarding care and assistance – which for example could mean food at the airport or a hotel overnight, if needed

Is my passport still accepted in EU countries?

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal in place, Schengen Border Code would be implemented (which covers travel to most EU countries). The Schengen border regulations stipulate that UK travellers, as third party nationals, will need to have three months’ validity left on their passports in order to travel. As UK residents would be entitled to stay up to three months in any Schengen country, the government is advising travellers to ensure they have at least 6 months left on their passport from date of arrival. Even if you only plan on laying on a beach for two weeks, we’d say this is a good guideline to go by. For example, if an accident or injury meant a lengthy stay in hospital abroad, a passport with longer validity period would be one less hurdle to overcome on the road to recovery.

Will the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) still be valid?

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal in place, your EHIC will no longer be valid. The UK government is keen to keep the EHIC in force if a Brexit agreement can be reached before 31st October 2019.

The European Health Insurance Card currently offers UK residents free or reduced-cost state-provided medical care across EEA countries and Switzerland (i.e. all the countries within the EU, plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

Effectively, it provides you with medical treatment on the same basis as a resident of the country you are in. Not all countries within the EEA and Switzerland have healthcare that’s free at the point of use – so even with EHIC you may still have to pay for certain treatments or services.

Which is where your travel insurance policy steps in. In fact, the British government advise all travellers that the EHIC does not replace the need for a travel insurance policy – they go on to advise that UK residents travelling to Europe should make sure they carry both. So whether we leave the EU with a deal in place or not, travel insurance is still a must whenever you travel to Europe. 

And it becomes even more important if the UK leaves the EU with no deal – UK holidaymakers will no longer have access to subsided medical care while they are on holiday, meaning they are at risk of hefty medical bills if they fall ill or have an accident abroad.

Note

- The UK has similar reciprocal health agreement deals with Australia and New Zealand which do not require an EHIC card and which will remain unaffected by Brexit.

- If you use a reciprocal health agreement such as the EHIC or Medicare in Australia to reduce the cost of your medical treatment abroad, Columbus Direct will waive any excess applicable on your medical claim (helping you with claims for smaller amounts).

What if a deal is agreed?

The UK and EU have agreed that if a deal is ratified by both the UK and EU before 31st October, there will be a transition period between then and 31st December 2020, during which further details of the agreement can be negotiated. EU law would continue to apply during this Brexit transition period – so Air Passenger Regulations and the EHIC medical agreements would remain in place. 

Daily Express 19/03/19 – Half of Britons ‘in danger’ amid new EHIC guideline confusion

https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/1102183/brexit-news-latest-uk-ehic-European-Health-Insurance-Card-protection

YourMoney 18/03/19 – Brexit Confusion

https://www.yourmoney.com/insurance/brexit-confusion-reigns-what-to-do-if-you-have-a-european-holiday-planned/

 Which? March 2019 – What will Brexit mean for your travel insurance

https://www.which.co.uk/news/2019/03/what-will-brexit-mean-for-your-travel-car-and-pet-insurance/