How Brexit is affecting travel planning, insurance and compensation

The announcement of the EU referendum results in 2016 was the mark of a monumental turning point – and a long and intricate exit process that would take years to complete. Some of the steps involved in this process are already underway, where others are only now in their preliminary phases, but overall, the UK is experiencing widespread uncertainty about the practical effects to be expected from Brexit. Of course, travel in and around the European Union has been a common talking point, and projections have been made about the ways that European travel may be affected by the UK’s exit from the Union. Here are five elements of travel that could see impact in the future.

Travel restrictions

British citizens have been reassured that following on from the completion of Brexit, they will not be expected to apply for visas when travelling to the EU. The requirement of all travellers to pass through passport control upon their entry to an EU country remains unchanged, however it is likely that UK travellers will now be required to be processed via the non-EU citizens queues, which could slow down the entire check-in process.

It has been speculated that in the longer term, once arrangements relating to Brexit have been finalised, that the EU could be subject to further dissection. The Schengen arrangement, which governs the use of border controls within the EU, could be done away with, and standard border checks put in its place.

Costly fares

The cheap airlines that dominate the air travel industry are possible because of the corners providers cut with their ‘no frills’ policies, and the introduction of such services was a huge turning point for commercial aviation. However, one of the elements that allowed providers to keep costs down was the EU’s abolition of bilateral air service agreement controls, freeing up newer and quicker routes for travel. Brexit will prompt a review of air service agreements, and the conditions of these agreements will prove central to maintaining the air travel UK citizens have become comfortable with. British airlines’ ability to travel into the EU, and that of European airlines within the UK, hinges on the reformation of these air service agreements.

Cuts to compensation

Under EU law, airline passengers who experience cancelled or delayed flights are entitled to considerable sums in compensation, and the UK was quick to adopt this same principle. However, once broken with the EU, UK-based airlines are likely to see maximum compensation amounts reduced dramatically, while EU countries carry on with their standard awards. Flight delay compensation is already notoriously difficult to obtain, and could become even rarer for UK citizens after these changes have been made. It is unlikely, however, that UK-based airlines or their passengers will lose out on their right to food, drink and accommodation if they are affected by a delayed or cancelled flight. Travellers looking to explore the possibilities of compensation should refer to a legal expert who specialises in such matters, as they will have the most up-to-date knowledge on any changes to legislation that have occurred, and be in the strongest position to advise.

Sickness and accidents abroad

As a member of the European Union, UK citizens travelling in the EU have been eligible for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which provides them free or low-cost medical assistance while abroad. Insurers have been known to waive excess charges for claimants who possess an EHIC, a process which may be overhauled in relation to Brexit negotiations. It is expected that the European Union will continue to grant UK citizens these same benefits, provided the UK offers the same treatment to EU citizens in return.

Should UK citizens be required to pay out of pocket for medical treatment while travelling in the EU, it is likely that their expectations of the care they receive will be higher. As it stands, medical negligence claims in the UK are on the rise, so much so that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has demanded a review into the elements surrounding clinical negligence and human error. The complex matter of EU-based medical care for UK citizens is still under negotiation, and the decisions that are made in the near future will have a direct effect on overseas medical care, and by extension, the processes followed in regard to making a compensation claim for medical negligence.

Insurance uncertainty

Another principle of EU law that the UK independently adopted for its own in the past pertained to the protection of travellers against monetary loss following the collapse of holiday providers. While the UK could now decide to review this arrangement, it is not likely to take place. It is also unlikely that UK citizens will be entitled to the same protective benefits recently introduced in the EU Package Travel Directive, making it more important than ever for UK travellers to choose their insurance provider wisely, and be fully informed about what their policy covers – particularly with travel-related compensation claims being clamped down on.

Brexit and the real impacts UK citizens can expect to see are still shrouded in uncertainty, but there is still a while before any plans or schemes are finalised and put into effect. However, anyone looking to book a holiday – particularly one that falls after the Brexit deadline – should do plenty of research, and get up to scratch on any new restrictions or requirements that could be applicable. Being prepared for factors that could affect your future travel plans will help you to get on your travels with ease.