Do You Need An EHIC, Travel Insurance Or Both?
Published: 5 July 2011 By Peter Thompson 1 Comment
Nearly 60% of Brits don’t understand the benefits of having the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when holidaying in Europe. And what about travel insurance?
EHICs entitle UK citizens to the same state-provided medical treatment as a local resident receives in other EU or EEA countries.
According to research by moneysupermarket.com, a third of Brits wrongly think the E111 will cover them for free or reduced cost medical treatment in the EU and EEA* countries, even though the E111 was replaced in January 2006 by EHICs.
Another 4% believe their passport can be used, and 3% think that an NHS patient card will cover them.
European Health Insurance Cards are only valid for five years and you need to ensure you check your card is in-date before your think about travelling. If it has expired make sure you leave yourself enough time to renew it – it is free and normally takes around 7 days if you apply for it online.
Bob Atkinson, travel insurance expert at moneysupermarket.com said: “Brits hitting Europe this summer without an EHIC could end up facing a hefty bill if they need medical care while they’re on vacation. Medical treatment in the EU and EEAs varies from country to country as well as being very different to NHS provided care in the UK.
An EHIC is your ‘pass’ to get free or reduced cost medical treatment in any EU or EEA country. Holidaymakers will suffer unexpected financial pain if they don’t ensure they have the right documents and produce them when seeking treatment.
The EHIC shouldn’t be considered a replacement for travel insurance as it only provides a basic level of medical cover.
Travel insurance offers much more comprehensive medical treatment cover, as well as other cover, including lost or stolen possessions, holiday cancellations and personal liability.
An EHIC is also only valid within Europe, so if you are travelling outside of Europe you will have to buy travel insurance. Be aware that it is not valid in the Channel Islands – they have their own healthcare services that are not provided as part of the NHS.
As with any insurance you need to make sure you buy a policy that meets your needs and as moneysupermarket.com recommends ensure it at least provides:
- 2m for medical expenses
- £1m personal liability
- £3000 cancellation – or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
- £1500 baggage
- £250 for cash
- Policy excesses under £100
- Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure as desirable
- Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours).
Apply online for a free EHIC here
*European Economic Area (EEA) countries are EU members plus Iceland and Switzerland.