Despite business travel being off the cards for many at this time, allowed in only very limited circumstances, rules and regulation relating to travel to Europe have changed now that Brexit has completed.
This will mean business travellers may need to make some changes before recommencing travel to Europe when routes do open up again.
We look specifically at the EHIC card, what it is, whether you can use EHIC cards after Brexit and when business travel may reopen as part of the easing of COVID-19 regulations in England.
What is an EHIC card?
EHIC stands for European Health Insurance Card. It is a free card which allows access to medical care across the EU. It entitles the holder to access treatment in a state hospital at the same cost as residents of that country would be charged.
The EHIC is an EU initiative.
Is the EHIC card still valid after Brexit?
The UK has now left the EU and therefore EU led initiatives such as the EHIC.
However, if you have an EHIC it will continue to be valid until the expiry date shown on the card. But be mindful of the fact that existing EHIC cards cannot be used in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.
Some people remain eligible to apply for a new EHIC card and full details of eligibility can be found on the NHS website.
Will anything replace the EHIC?
Yes. The EHIC will be replaced by the GHIC – the UK Global Health Insurance Card.
The GHIC will enable you to access state healthcare in Europe at reduced cost or for free in some cases.
The GHIC can be used when travelling to any EU country. But it cannot be used in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland
Does a GHIC replace travel insurance?
No, a GHIC (or EHIC) is not a replacement for travel insurance.
Whilst a GHIC will help you access state medical care in the country that you travel to, travel insurance provides a much wider spectrum of cover. The GHIC will not provide cancellation cover or medical repatriation for example, all areas typically covered by a travel insurance policy.
Whilst travel insurance is not a legal requirement, it is very strongly recommended that you take out a policy before you travel, and indeed as soon as you pay any money for your holiday or travel.
If you are an employer who sends employees abroad for work, you may also need to look into providing business travel insurance for your employees to cover a broader range of needs.
When may travel for business open up again?
Travel is off the agenda for most in the UK at the moment due to COVID-19 guidance and regulation. In limited circumstances some business travel is allowed but guidance states ‘Essential travel for business or official work purposes where it is not reasonably possible to complete that work from home.’
As part of the 4 step reopening map in England, the government is also carrying out a review into international travel. It is thought that this will be completed by the 12th April and provide more in terms of guidance regarding international travel and what future rules may look like. However, international travel is currently banned for the majority of people until the 17th May so this is expected to be the earliest date that travel rules may ease for those in England.
Despite current restrictions you will want to be aware of any changes to travel and business travel rules after Brexit so that when travel to Europe does open up again you do not experience any delay or disruption to your plans. If you have any questions about your business insurance and whether there is a need to provide business travel insurance for your employees do get in touch with our teams on 020 8290 9080 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.