As we approach the end of the year matters impacting our members and their customers have continued to be in the headlines, and we thought it would be useful to summarise these for you.
On Christmas Eve Government announced that a deal had been struck with the EU. This has been approved in a vote in Parliament today and the EU will progress to ratification. Though this is welcome news for the UK, it holds no real comfort for the insurance sector, because for insurance there is no equivalence regime. From 1 January 2021 passporting to the EU will cease for UK-based firms and BIBA members will not be able to intermediate on EU risks for EU-based customers unless they are authorised in the EU to do so. Find out more on our website contains more information.
It has been good to hear the issues affecting our sector because of the deal, being raised in Parliament and we will continue to make these points to Government.
BIBA has long indicated that for the UK’s insurance sector to remain competitive we need a regulator that is open to business. We continue to call for both more proportionate regulation of our members, and an international competitive objective to be imposed on the FCA.
The EU has agreed to a “specified period” of four months, extendable by a further two months, in which data can be exchanged in the same way it is now, provided that the UK makes no changes to its rules on data protection in the interim.
For insurance customers planning to travel to the EU there was mixed news. EU states will continue to recognise valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) until their expiry. The deal also confirms that Global Health Insurance Cards (GHIC) will be brought in to replace the EHIC however this will not be valid for travel to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which were covered under the EHIC.
Like an EHIC, a GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. BIBA continues to recommend that anyone travel to the EU post Brexit makes sure they have comprehensive travel insurance that will cover the cost of medical treatment if they fall ill or have an accident while abroad. Neither EHICs nor GHICs will allow for all medical treatments to be given free of charge and will not provide for emergency medical repatriation to the UK, which can run to many thousands of pounds.
Travel insurance is complicated, and the cover provided is extensive including much more than cancellation; policies will cover, emergency medical and dental treatment, medical repatriation, compensation for any missed portion of a trip and the costs travelling home. We continue to point people towards our members to get the vital cover they need.
As things currently stand, UK drivers and motorcyclists will no longer enjoy the benefits of access to the free circulation zone. This means that until further notice they must have an insurance Green Card for each and every vehicle they drive to Europe including separate cards for caravans or trailers. However, UK citizens will not need an International Driver’s Permit to drive in the EU.
The matter of free circulation continues to be discussed but the EU Commission has said that it cannot issue confirmation of the UK’s continuation in the green card free circulation area without a consultation, and that can only be done after 1 January 2021. Read more here.
Covid-19 also continues to impact us all. We had good news for everyone today as the ‘Oxford/AstraZeneca’ vaccine was given approval giving a glimmer of hope that a degree of normality will return.
In particular, we were delighted that the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) this week confirmed that they have extended the Government- backed trade credit insurance reinsurance scheme for a further six months.
In the summer BIBA and some of our specialist trade credit members worked hard alongside the ABI to avoid a sudden withdrawal of trade credit insurance in response to the Covid-19 crisis. We were delighted that Government recognised the roll Trade Credit plays in restarting the economy and the news that the scheme will last for a further six months is most welcome.
In 2021 we look forward to continuing to work for you and if you have any questions, concerns or issues that you need our help with please do not hesitate to contact us.
We wish you all a happy new year.