Vehicle insurance when driving abroad

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Email
July 9

Dear Mr. Editor,

I should like to respond to the recent letter from a reader who referred to his Spanish insurance company apparently advising him that as a result of Brexit his Spanish insurance did not cover him when visiting the UK.

Of course such advice was nonsense and quite obviously whoever told him that did not seek proper advice himself. However, since there are other issues here which must also be taken into account, I considered that it might be helpful for your readers to, not only learn of the current situation, but also to be advised as to what they should be asking their insurance company when seeking to travel beyond their state of residence.

Following the outcome of the trade deal negotiations between the UK and EU, cross border drivers were initially required to carry a ‘Green Card’ when driving their vehicle in the European Economic Area (EEA) and certain other countries, including, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland).

The ‘Green Card’ is an internationally recognised Motor Insurance Certificate (‘IMIC’) issued by insurance providers, guaranteeing that the visiting motorist has the necessary minimum motor insurance cover when driving in any of the countries specified.

As from July 2020, the IMICs can be printed in black text on plain white paper without need to list the bureau names and addresses on the reverse. (The long-accepted format on the Green Card with the bureaux information on the reverse will also remain valid until 30 June 2022). Zurich Green Cards will be issued on white paper with a blank back page. However, it is extremely important to remember that the IMIC’s may only provide you with the minimum ‘Third Party’ protection and they are issued without charge. A word of warning, the minimum cover will not necessarily cover any loss you may sustain or indeed, a break-down, fire or theft, as ‘Third Party’ insurance means what it says. For this reason it would be wise to discuss the level of protection you require and if necessary pay any additional premium.

The countries the IMIC’s covers are the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland. For other countries you must speak with your insurer.

Before signing off I should like to also deal with the letter from Graham Shelton dated 6th July 2021 wherein he quite wrongly states that, ‘Anyone who wants to reside in Spain must have a TIE.’ Mind you he did preface that with, ‘A quick online check reveals that . .’

Nevertheless, when attempting to advise your readers, he drew no distinction between residence post December 30, 2020 and the current time and the period pre-December 30, 2020. If one is to advise others then it is essential to do so clearly, especially where so many readers will be elderly, or less nimble of mind.

For the record those who currently hold the old green A4 paper certificate of permanent residence, or the later issued green plastic card attesting to the same effect, then they are currently valid documents and it is not necessary to apply for the TIE card, even though some may consider it desirable to do so for ease of travelling. Indeed, this is the current advice of the Ambassador. For clarification the issue of such documents remains within the sovereignty of the individual states.

Mr. Shelton, having, declared that he has lived in Spain for over 15 years, he then wanders off into the world of UK national suffrage and the 15 years of absence rule whereby suffrage is lost. He then quite wrongly refers to, ‘It seems that the right to vote, especially in Scotland, is residency based.’ Oh dear Mr. Shelton please get your facts right. Firstly, the current law on national suffrage relates to England Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which form the United Kingdom as a whole and as well as being made up of 4 countries the UK is itself a country.

The current law on national suffrage is the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and no Mr. Shelton, it is not solely residence based. The only persons who may vote in the UK Parliamentary elections, subject to the 15 year rule, are; British citizens, British Overseas Voters, Resident (UK) Irish citizens and qualifying Commonwealth citizens.

Foreigners may not vote in national elections in the UK. Historically this because their allegiance will be to their country of nationality and there are only a few democratic countries which disenfranchise their citizens after a period of absence.

I do not address municipal voting, which came to us expats from Article 8b of the Treaty of Maastricht 1992, because the UK are now proposing to remove that right from citizens of the EU/EEA, even though we expats will continue with that right.

As far as Mr. Shelton’s reference to the 15 year rule and to offering, ‘Good luck to anyone from anywhere in the UK who can get the politicians to keep their promises . . .’ This fight has not been one of luck, but rather one of hard work and a long fought battle by those of us resident within the EU.

I took up this matter shortly after the enactment of the Act of 2000. I went to the House of Lords, the Committee on Petitions at the EU Parliament, followed by the ECHR, albeit I didn’t get past the front door of the latter. I was then pleased to entrust the matter to the late Brian Cave (France), as I had a heavy work schedule at that time. He then later handed the matter over to dear old Harry Shindler (Italy) and I exchanged with them regularly. I can set Mr. Shelton’s mind at rest by informing him that he will be able to vote in the next election.

Finally, I can say that I do share Mr. Shelton’s obvious passion about not breaking up the Union and further, that I did not get to fight in that Suez debacle (1956) solely because of the intervention of the USA.

David R. Burrage

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