The ABI said in January that Green Cards were a ”top priority” amid the mass uncertainty around the UK’s imminent departure
With just a matter of days before the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union, a further delay has been proposed on the departure date, but there still remains enormous uncertainty in the insurance industry regarding Green Cards.
At present a bilateral agreement means that UK drivers are insured within the EU, but a no-deal exit would see this protection removed and a Green Card needed. The prime minister, Theresa May has been forced to delay Brexit following proposals for the cross-party EU Withdrawal (No. 5) Bill receiving royal assent on Monday 8 April at 11pm. The move is an attempt from the House of Commons and Lords to avoid a no-deal, and the prime minister now hopes to have a solution ratified for the new departure date on the 22 May.
Green Cards will be required under EU law as proof of insurance, and those that travel without one could be breaking the law. The same requirements apply to EU motorists travelling to the UK.
Back in January, the ABI said that Green Cards were a “top priority” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it urged businesses and consumers to speak to their insurers at least one month in advance allow them to drive in the EU.
Now insurers could potentially face a massive backlog of issuing these Green Cards for UK drivers, and with approximately 2,660,414 cars passing through the Channel Tunnel in 2018 alone, according to GetLink’s statistics, it is no easy task. It could even see the possibility of administration fees being applied to pay extra staff which help alleviate the workload.
To tackle this some of the industry have applied various measures in a bid to navigate the problem and remove the pressure from insurers and the risk that policyholders face.
Insurtech By Miles has offered a solution, its chief executive, James Blackham has taken a proactive stance. He told Insurance Times: “We are allowing customers to download their own digital Green Card from our web dash board or app to print on green paper.”
By Miles is now calling on all UK car insurers to address this issue and avoid the risk of a consumer backlash. He estimated 30 million cars in the UK, and potentially three million Green Cards in need of being issued.
“The Green Card system dates back to the 1970s, it’s very archaic, it hasn’t been updated since then, so the rules around it are pretty strict. Most insurers don’t know how frequently their customers go to Europe. We do however, we estimate that 10% of our customers go abroad at least once a year based on the data we have collected.
“It does present a huge logistic and cost challenge to insurers. It’s quite a manual process, you have to generate the Green Card, and then print it on a green piece of paper. They don’t specify the shade, so any kind of green is okay,” he added.
Blackham fears that the people most affected will be those that get caught out when Brexit happens.
While he feels this approach could help ease the backlog, he questioned what would happen if other firms also did the same, saying it might subsequently lead to a shortage of green paper.
The insurtech claims it is the only car insurance provider that is giving customers the power to immediately download their Green Card via its app or web dashboard, completely free of charge.
In January, Allianz said that it was finalising its Green Card process for customers so there would be no change to the cover provided.
Dealing with the backlog
Back in March the MIB (Motor Insurers’ Bureau) warned that motorists planning to drive in the EU after 29 March (the original leave date), must ensure that they have applied directly to their insurer.
Acting on behalf of the UK government and insurers, the MIB is planning to set up temporary Green Card issuing services at four UK ports which include Dover, Folkestone, Portsmouth and Hull.
The solution is designed to handle of 5-10% of the outbound traffic through these ports for vehicles travelling to the EEA including private and commercial.
Dominic Clayden, chief executive at MIB, added: “This may not be a perfect solution for every motorist travelling to the EU. The inherent risk for anyone relying on MIB for a Green Card at their port of exit to the EU is that they could be faced with missing their ferry or train.
“If the European Commission agrees that Green Cards aren’t needed, then we can continue to travel as we do now. It would make these preparations unnecessary, but we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
The MIB specified that it would not issue Green Cards without the insurers’ consent, it reiterated that that the Green Card on an international certificate of insurance acts as proof that the driver’s motor policy acts as a minimum cover in the country they are travelling in.
However the ABI recently said that it was not anticipating a backlog, because insurers have already started to provide green cards, having been within a week of a potential no-deal Brexit previously.
An ABI spokesperson said: “Insurers have been working hard to minimise the impact on consumers of a no-deal Brexit and, where appropriate, have been issuing Green Cards on request. It remains the case that insurers do not want a no-deal Brexit; it would be bad for the economy and bad for our customers. We continue to hope these arrangements are never needed and urge the Government, UK Parliament and EU27 to agree an orderly way forward.”
In terms of penalties for not having a Green Card, this woud vary by country but include a fine or having your vehicle seized.