British motorists planning to drive in Europe post-Brexit face an anxious wait as a query over the status of their insurance remains unanswered more than two years after it was raised.
Unless Brussels agrees to waive a technicality, British drivers will need to carry a green-card-style proof of insurance, without which they run the risk of being stopped, having their vehicles impounded and possibly facing fines.
In the 40 counties that make up the green card area, which includes the entire European Union, European Economic Area and other countries, the rules say drivers must carry a hard-copy document to prove they have third-party insurance, and can drive there. Digital copies are insufficient.
If policies expire during a holiday, copies of both the old and new policies must be carried, and motorists with caravans need two pieces of paperwork.
The European Commission has the power to grant waivers for countries when it comes to the carrying of paperwork in the so-called free circulation area, and this has already been applied to counties not in either the EU or the EEA, including Serbia and Switzerland, but with the end of the Brexit transition period in sight, no decision has been taken over the United Kingdom.
A survey conducted by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association in October 2019 revealed 55 percent of those questioned were unaware that they would need to carry extra documentation in the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit, and with time running out the association is seeking to raise public awareness and also calling for a decision to be made, to avoid bureaucratic chaos.
“Back in 2018, we were originally told it was a formality, but then the message changed and it was made clear that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed on Brexit’,” said the association’s executive director, Graeme Trudgill.
If no clarification is issued, the rules could cause particular difficulties for crossings between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, at what is currently not a hard border, and which has emerged as one of the most contentious issues of the whole Brexit process.
“It really is down to the Europeans to decide,” Trudgill added.
“I would hope that even if there was a no-deal that after six months the decision would get through, but I do worry on Jan 1 we might be thrust into it for six months or more.”
Clare Egan, head of motor product at Admiral Insurance, advised motorists to apply for the card a minimum of seven days in advance and to ensure they had the right papers before departing.
“From Jan 1, motorists planning to drive in Europe will need to make sure they take their green card, their driving license, their car’s logbook and a copy of their car insurance certificate with them when they drive abroad,” she said.
“Having all the right protection and documentation before you travel will reduce any potential problems you could face at the border and reduce any last-minute panic.”