Whether you're travelling to the far reaches of the world or just taking a quick flight over the water to Western Europe, travel insurance can be incredibly important. It can ensure that you are protected from huge bills should you find yourself needing medical attention or even if your bags get lost en route.
Not only can you receive monetary compensation for these instances and many others, you may find yourself a little more relaxed on your travels, knowing that you have some financial security.
However, with the realities of Brexit looming, many avid travellers may be wondering how it will affect their travels, and more specifically, how it will affect travel insurance.
At present, British travellers are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is free, and you can apply for it online. If you become unwell or are injured whilst travelling in Europe, this card will entitle you to the same level of care received by native citizens. This does not mean, however, that you will be entitled to free healthcare as there are some charges in many EU countries for medical treatment.
This is why travel insurance is important. If you are only carrying an EHIC, you may not have to pay as much as you would without one, but you are still likely to be faced with charges. The EHIC remains valid until the UK leaves the European Union, which is not due to happen until October 31st 2019. What will happen with the EHIC after that date remains unclear as negotiations continue.
However, there are some non-EU countries with which we have reciprocal health insurance deals, including Australia and New Zealand. These deals won't be affected when we leave the European Union, so travellers to these countries can continue to utilise the health insurance deals which are already in place. However, these reciprocal arrangements do not provide full coverage and these countries encourage travellers to hold comprehensive travel insurance.
As with the EHIC, until the October 31st 2019, the UK remains a member of the European Union, so travellers needn't worry about changes to their existing travel insurance in this time period. Beyond this date, things are still a little unclear.
However, it still seems unlikely that there would be any dramatic changes to the way travel insurance works, even after Brexit. It is possible that there may be rise in prices, but nothing is certain yet.
It may in fact be possible that both the UK and the EU wish to maintain reciprocal health insurance policies as it benefits both parties. This could mean very little changes to your travel insurance policies.
The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020, with a Withdrawal Agreement, and entered a transition period until the end of 2020 while the UK and EU negotiate additional arrangements.
Current rules on travel for the UK and EU will continue to apply during the transition period, during which your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will remain valid.
New rules will take effect on 1 January 2021. To find out more about visiting Europe from this date, the government has published a range of guidance and notes.
It is hard to predict the exact changes that may happen to post-Brexit travel, but there have been a number of predictions.
Firstly, UK nationals may have noticed if they have travelled to Europe recently that the pound is not going quite as far as it did before. This is due to a weakened pound which means that exchange rates are less favourable now, with the gap between the pound and the euro closing. This may make some package holidays a little more expensive as well as travellers finding that they may be spending a little more money whilst they are abroad.
Another area that may be subject to change is the level of free movement UK nationals currently enjoy within Europe. Again, this is something that we cannot be sure of until negotiations have been settled, however, it is possible that we may face a slightly different process when travelling within Europe. It seems rather unlikely that UK citizens would be required to apply for full visas, but it may not be quite as quick and simple as the process currently is, with the possibility that the process for American and Australian citizens would be adopted. This involves registering details and travel intentions online.
While negotiations continue, it is difficult to predict all the changes that may or may not happen regarding travel within Europe. However, regardless of the changes, travel insurance will continue to be an essential part of travelling.
At Compare Cover, you can compare travel insurance to help you find the most suitable cover for you. If you have any questions, we have a number of travel insurance guides that may be able to answer your queries, or you can get in touch with a member of our team.
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