Motor insurers are preparing to issue potentially millions more green cards in the case of a no deal Brexit.
However, they have been quick to reassure customers that they are ready to meet the challenge and that their cover will be unchanged, the AA’s director of insurance, Janet Connor, saying: “I see no need to change your travel plans because of Brexit.”
Green cards were instituted by the United Nations in 1949 as a means of drivers proving they were insured when driving cross-borders to other green card member countries.
Currently, EU motor insurance directives mean that UK motorists driving abroad do not need to green cards within the green card-free circulation area, which encompasses all countries within the EEA as well as Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.
If the deal proposed by the government and approved by Brussels goes ahead, there would be no need for changes to arrangements for driving in Europe before December 2020, when the proposed transition period ends.
However, the requirements for driving across borders could change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place.
In guidance issued in September, the Department for Transport said: “If [the UK] does not have access to the green card-free circulation area on exit day, we expect that UK motorists would need to carry a green card as proof of third party motor insurance cover if you drive to and within EU or EEA countries, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.”
The guidance also advises that in cases of fleet insurance, each vehicle must have a green card, and that in some countries trailers may also need their own card, in addition to one for the towing vehicle.
Though green cards are currently free of charge, insurers have the option of reflecting increased production and handling costs in administration fees. While the cards can be issued electronically, they are only legal if they are printed on green paper.
Janet Connor, the AA’s director of insurance said: “Around 4.7 million drivers take their cars into Europe each year, excluding commercial traffic and I see no reason why that should change even after a hard Brexit.
“Insurers already issue green cards for drivers taking their cars beyond European borders and some ask for one for the additional comfort they provide in proving, if needed, that their car is insured. The green card is, after all, essentially a multi-language translation of your insurance certificate set out in an internationally recognisable format.
“Cover that you have isn’t going to suddenly stop at midnight on 28th March but it would be prudent to ask your insurer for a green card before you go, if you expect to be away on that date.
“Although there may be more queueing at ferry ports as documents are checked when leaving and re-entering the UK, once in Europe there is no restriction in driving across borders. No-one is going to single out British drivers when they travel between say, France and Belgium.
The AA also said that in the event of no deal, international driving permits – which from 1 February will only be available from Post Offices by applying in person – might also be needed.
There are two different types of these permits, one covering Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus, and another covering other EU countries, Norway and Switzerland, meaning in some instances drivers would require two permits.
Other insurers have also sought to reassure customers. Jonathan Dye, head of motor insurance at Allianz, said the insurer is “well prepared for a no-deal scenario. This includes the need for cover continuity on existing programmes as well as issuing green cards for customers travelling outside the UK.”
However, Dye also stressed that these were preparations Allianz hoped it would not need to resort to: “This would be an extremely unwelcome outcome with inconvenience for our customers, additional cost to the industry, and ultimately our policyholders. We very much hope the contingency plans will not be required.”
The number of green cards issued by different providers current varies significantly. Esure currently issues around 16,000 green cards per year and said: “We encourage our customers to check they have the appropriate documentation if they will be driving abroad.
“If demand for the green card packs increases, we are well placed to respond within our current set up. The ABI has suggested that there may be a transition period, and we will follow the guidance provided by the DfT and ABI.”
Ageas issued less than 50 green cards last year and said: “The future situation with the green card scheme depends on the terms agreed in the margins of the Brexit discussions. We are, of course, taking an active interest in these discussions and planning for every eventuality.”
There were also assurances to customers from Direct Line and Admiral.
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