MoneyMagpie

Jan 17

Everything you need to know when booking a holiday before Brexit

Reading Time: 6 mins

With recent events in Parliament, we are edging even closer to a disorderly Brexit, and UK travellers are facing the task of trying to unravel the conflicting messages on what potential travel disruptions they could face after 29th March 2019. With a flux of inaccurate information, and statements appearing in the media regarding what you can expect from your travel insurance, particularly in a no deal situation, it’s no wonder UK travellers are concerned and bewildered. Travel Insurance Explained would like to try and bring a little clarity to this situation.

 

What happens if my flight is delayed? Am I still entitled to compensation?

Unless the delay is caused by an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ i.e. adverse weather or issues with air traffic control, UK holidaymakers are currently entitled to claim compensation of up to €600 (depending on the length of delay/distance of flight) from the airline under the European passengers’ rights rules. However, the immediate aftermath of Brexit could be classed as an ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which would mean that this compensation may not be paid if you are travelling around the days leading up to or after the date we are due to leave the EU.

After Brexit (whether there is a deal or no deal), according to research, the entitlement to compensation following a flight cancellation or delay will not change because EU legislation in force before Brexit has been adopted into UK law, however the level of compensation available may be reduced.

UK holidaymakers who have checked-in on time and experience a flight delay or cancellation may be entitled to claim a small amount of compensation from their travel insurance. This is usually available after 6 or 12 hours of delay (depending on the policy) and will have a limit of £100 to £600. So, if delays are a concern of yours it is worth looking for a travel insurance policy that will offer a higher level of cover.

Some travel insurers have announced that if flights are grounded you are entitled to extend your travel insurance policy free of charge to cover any additional days, however the responsibility of rearranging an alternative flight sits solely with the airline.

 

I use the EHIC when travelling in the EU, will this be renegotiated?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), formally the E111, has been a backstop for those who need emergency medical treatment in the EU but this could be in jeopardy if negotiations breakdown. According to our recent research, 82% of travellers* agreed that the EHIC would have to be renegotiated which would impact their welfare while travelling abroad.

Although the EHIC was never a replacement for travel insurance, it is now more important than ever to ensure you are buying a policy that is suitable for your needs and that it covers any existing medical conditions. One factor that might need to be considered is that the loss of the EHIC could cause an increase in the cost of medical treatment for UK travellers which in turn could lead to higher travel insurance premiums.

 

Will I need to purchase travel insurance when travelling abroad post-Brexit?

Regardless of Brexit, or the country you are planning to travel to, travel insurance is a necessity. And, it is important to remember, travel insurance should always be purchased as soon as your holiday is booked.  Do not leave it until the last minute or until something happens or is announced to prompt you to buy travel insurance, as events that have been announced before you purchase your policy won’t be covered.

Always ensure you read your travel insurance policy documents before going ahead with the purchase and make sure the cover is suitable for your needs – and meets your expectations. There are thousands of policies out there, all with differing levels of cover, so bear this in mind.

With so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the cover travel insurers will offer, UK travellers may be concerned about having to cancel their trip. Most travel insurers will only offer cover for cancellation for specific circumstances, which are normally:

  • Death, injury or illness of you or a travelling companion
  • Death, injury or illness of a close relative not travelling with you
  • You or a travelling companion are called for Jury Service
  • You or a travelling companion are made redundant

Some travel insurers are stating the cover available for Brexit will depend on the individual circumstances of the claim. However, this means that if you were to make a claim, the decision of the insurer will be arbitrary, and gives you no certainty when you buy your policy about what you are actually covered for.

There are some travel insurance policies which cover ‘cancellation for any reason which you could not have been expected to foresee or avoid’, and suggest that anyone concerned about the uncertainties of Brexit and what might happen if you have to cancel your trip should look out for. This type of cover is also a must for all those ‘independent travellers’, the holidaymakers who arrange the individual parts (flight, hotel, car hire) of their holiday online rather than purchasing a package deal.

 

Will the cost of going on holiday in the EU increase?

Recent news reports that from 2021, travelling to EU states could mean holidaymakers paying a fee of €7 every three years to pre-register for an electronic visa waiver, a system similar to the US-based ESTA scheme. The fluctuations in the Sterling exchange rate against the Euro and a hike in both holiday and flight prices could be the major consideration for budget-conscious travellers.

 

Will Brexit affect Data Roaming Charges or Credit Card Fees?

Of those surveyed, 71% said they expect mobile phone roaming charges to increase, which may impact those who rely on their phone when organising their holiday (such as flights, hotels or excursions). Since June 2017, providers have been unable to apply additional charges for calls, texts and data usage on mobile phone used within the EU. However once Brexit happens on the 29th March 2019 it will be down to the providers to decide whether they want to bring back roaming charges.

55% of UK travellers believe credit card fees will increase post-Brexit and those who prefer cashless payments abroad may be faced with higher exchange rates, adding to the overall cost of the holiday. The fees for using cards abroad has not been finalised, however it could depend on the strength of the sterling against the euro. It may be preferable for holidaymakers to exchange their cash before going away if the exchange rate remains poor.

 

What if my airline isn’t able to take-off post-Brexit?

Currently, the ‘open skies’ agreement allows planes to travel freely between the UK and the rest of the EU. After 29th March 2019, it is not known whether this deal will continue as formal agreements are yet to be announced, however airline bosses remain hopeful.

If you buy, or have brought, a plane ticket and your flight in unable to take-off post-Brexit you will be entitled to a full refund. However, unless you have booked a package holiday you will may not be able to claim back the costs of unused accommodation or car hire, etc.

From our research, we believe there is only a small chance planes will be grounded post-Brexit but it is something to bear in mind if you are thinking of going abroad.

Some travel insurers have announced that if flights are grounded you are entitled to extend your travel insurance policy free of charge to cover any additional days, however the responsibility of rearranging an alternative flight sits solely with the airline.

Some travel insurance policies will offer cover if you incur additional costs if you are delayed travelling home from your holiday, this would be cover over and above the cover offered for delays once you have checked in.  This cover is not routinely available so you would need to look for it, but it is worthwhile looking for if you are travelling around the date of the planned Brexit.

 

Will I need to renew my passport?

Your UK passport will still be valid after the 29th March 2019, but will not have the power of an EU passport i.e. the right to free movement within the EU, hence the need for an ETIAS (similar to the American ESTA).

If you are planning to travel within the EU after Brexit, under the Schengen Border Code, you must have at least six months validity left on your passport from the date you arrive in the country. The ETIAS will allow UK nationals to stay in the EU for up to three months (90 days).

From October 2019, British passports will return to dark blue and the words ‘European Union’, as well as translations into Welsh and Gaelic, will be removed from the front cover and first page.

 

What if I am delayed at border control due to additional checks?

The consensus is that there will be additional checks at border control after Brexit, how much will be dependent on any deals struck.  The change in process will undoubtedly cause delays, at least in the short term.  It is important to note that under most travel insurance policies, a missed flight due to delays at check-in, security or border control will not be covered. Travel insurers advise that it is your responsibility to ensure you leave enough time to clear any additional checks that may occur. Having said that, there are some policies that do offer cover if you are delayed for a reason that you could not have foreseen or avoided, but you would need to ask your travel insurance provider specifically if this cover is offered.  Again this cover would be worth sourcing to ensure you have adequate cover should there be a lot of travel disruption around Brexit.

 

I want to take my pet abroad; will I need to arrange quarantine post-Brexit?

Another factor is that since the introduction of pet passports in 2004, UK pet owners have been able to take their dogs, cats and ferrets freely across borders. But if the UK enters a ‘no deal’ scenario with the EU, then these passports will be invalid. Of those surveyed, 78% are preparing for their beloved animals to be placed in quarantine on returning from holiday.

 

*FWD Research undertook 2,000, 15-minute online interviews among UK residents who have recently travelled or intend to travel abroad on holiday in 2019. Fieldwork ran during the last two weeks of November and first week of December exploring attitudes towards international travel during 2019.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Joanne

Some sound advice on the subject.

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