Tuesday 19 March 2019

Green card 'chaos': Number of motorists refused documents from insurers

Driving force: Traffic crosses the Border into Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic at Co Armagh. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Driving force: Traffic crosses the Border into Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic at Co Armagh. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

“CHAOS” is unfolding in the driver green card system, with a number of motorists being turned down for the documents designed to enable drivers to cross over to the UK.

Independent.ie has spoken to several motorists, who’ve tried prepare for a potential hard Brexit but have been refused the green cards from insurance providers.

The cards will enable drivers to cross over the border into Northern Ireland and into Britain post a hard Brexit.

This comes in the wake of the Government and Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) notifying drivers of the necessity of the free cards in a no-deal scenario.

One female driver, from Dublin, requested a green card from her insurance broker today, as she regularly drives to Northern Ireland and Britain.

She was told not one green card had been issued to customers from any of the 14 insurance companies on its books.

The woman was then notified she couldn’t have a green card currently and was instead asked to call back late next week, to see if there are any updates.

Seamus Ward, a driver from Dundalk, Co Louth, phoned his car insurance broker on Monday but was, he said, also instructed to wait until next week to apply.

Retired businessman Mr Ward said: “I spoke to a courteous lady who said they’d not been advised of any changes but to wait until after the vote in the Commons on March 12.”

Mr Ward claimed he was told “anything else was scaremongering in the media.” 

Mr Ward had been making the query, as he’s due to travel to the UK on April 19.

He claimed the customer services worker, finished the call by saying there would be a card sent out to him in the event of a no deal scenario, by the end of the month.

Another female driver, from Dublin, said she had called her insurance company and was told that a green card should be with her by the end of March and motorists living in border counties were the first priority.

And AXA Ireland tweeted a customer enquiring about green cards on Wednesday:  “In the event of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit, all direct car and van customers will automatically receive a green card by post, free of charge.  You do not have to do anything.”

Fianna Fail transport spokesman Robert Troy, was confused by the mixed messages, saying:   “It was made very clear, to start applying for green cards immediately, as there’s a four week turnaround period.

“It’s now less than four weeks until March 29.  If a driver doesn’t have a green card on March 30, in the event of a hard Brexit, they may be under risk of their car being impounded.

“If they are involved in an accident and not covered when in the UK, that’s a serious concern.

“This is something I will raise with the Minister for Transport and the MIBI. 

“It’s possible someone (insurance brokers/providers) is trying to save themselves money somewhere and is waiting until next week, in the hope that a hard Brexit will be prevented.

“That’s not a duty of care to customers. Everyone hopes a hard Brexit will be prevented and that there won’t be a need for green cards.

“But if the turnaround time is four weeks and some people are being refused, that’s a concern.”

Dermott Jewell, from the Consumer Association of Ireland, labelled the occurrence “typical of Brexit,” adding that “such chaos” was “more than likely down to saving money.”

Mr Jewell said the confusion could now lead to consumers “turning their backs on this initiative.”

“Like so much of anything surrounding Brexit, not everyone seems to be following the same advice,” he added.

“There needs to be significant clarification from the MIBI to explain what's happened, how this is to be remedied and when.”

All motor insurance providers across Ireland have been notified of the stipulation to provide drivers with green cards upon requests.

And an informed source within the motor insurance industry said he believed the situation is down to “a breakdown in communication.”

It is understood the MIBI will now be ensuring the message is once again made clear to any insurance providers who may not have followed instructions.

The MIBI said one million green cards and templates have so far been issued to motor insurance providers.  These have been delivered, it says, to 40 providers.

5,000 green cards were issued last year for travel outside Europe, highlighting the fact these documents are by no means uncharted territory for insurance providers.

Some drivers have also raised concerns that green cards are contrary to the Good Friday Agreement but the MIBI stated the documents were being organised on “the advice from the UK Government and the European Commission,” which is, it said, “straightforward.”

“If there’s a no deal Brexit then any EU registered vehicle driven in Northern Ireland or the UK will require a green card to satisfy the law enforcement authorities. This includes vehicles from the Republic of Ireland.”

David Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the MIBI, said:  “The Motor Insurers’ Bureau of Ireland has now issued one million blank green cards, as well as separate electronic application templates to the insurance companies.

“From the beginning of March the insurance companies and insurance brokers are issuing green cards to their policyholders as requested.

"Anyone who requires a green card should contact their insurance provider and they will be issued with one.

“So if you get your motor insurance directly from an insurance company, you should contact them or if you get your motor insurance from a broker, then that is who you should contact.

“The process is quite clear.  Anyone who expects to drive in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK in the days immediately after Brexit should now contact their insurance provider and they will be issued a green card before the 29th March.

“Anyone who plans on travelling to Northern Ireland or other parts of the UK, should contact their insurance provider one month in advance of their journey.”

Online Editors

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