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Brexit confusion reigns: what to do if you have a European holiday planned

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Written by: Danielle Levy
18/03/2019
British holidaymakers remain in the dark about whether the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is valid if the UK leaves the European Union (EU) without a deal. Here are three tips for those planning trips to Europe soon.

With only 11 days until the UK is due to leave the EU and a deal yet to be agreed, half of UK holidaymakers are confused about the validity of the EHIC card post-Brexit, according to research by insurer Columbus Direct.

The EHIC card currently provides UK citizens with access to free or reduced cost state-provided healthcare, should they have an accident or fall ill whilst visiting an EU country. However, new guidance published by the government has stated that the EHIC card may not be valid if Britain exits the EU without a deal.

This means holidaymakers could face a costly medical bill if they happen to fall ill during a European trip and have no travel insurance in place.

What’s more, Columbus Direct found that 75% of a sample of 2,500 customers have already booked a summer holiday to Europe.

Meanwhile, 57% of respondents are concerned that their holiday will become more expensive, while one in five said the prospect of stricter border controls at airports makes them more reluctant to travel to Europe.

Three steps to take for your next European holiday

Here are three easy steps to take to make sure your next European holiday goes as smoothly as possible, according to Stuart Lloyd, Travel Insurance expert at Columbus Direct.

  1. Get travel insurance – it protects you against the unknown which given the uncertainty around Brexit is doubly important. It doesn’t just cover you for medical care, it’s also there to protect you for things like travel disruption and lost baggage so it’s vital you purchase as soon as you’ve booked your holiday. While many believe that the EHIC, when valid, is enough protection – it isn’t. While the EHIC is still running you should always have both.
  2. Secure your currency – sterling is stronger against the euro than it was at this time last year. Whilst it is a long way from where it was just before the referendum in June 2016 it’s worth thinking about exchanging your holiday money sooner rather than later. There’s always the chance that the pound may strengthen if we reach a deal but at this point buying at least some of your currency now gives you peace of mind.
  3. Check your passport – if Britain leave the EU with a no deal there will be changes to passport rulings, so if you’ve already booked your holiday check your passport meets the new rules that have been set out here.

“As Brexit unfolds make sure you’ve purchased travel insurance as soon as possible. Remember to check the benefits and level of cover suit your needs, and always opt for at least £1m in medical expenses as this should ensure you’re protected in the event of a medical emergency abroad,” Lloyd added.

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