Why Your EHIC & Travel Insurance are as important as a Passport
There are many things that people consider essential when going overseas on holiday – a good pair of sunglasses, some decent swimwear/appropriate winter attire and your passport. Believe it or not, if you’re out and about n Europe, soaking in a little culture as you bask on the sunny shores of Italy, Spain or Greece, your EHIC and your travel insurance are just as important as your passport.
If you’re out rock climbing or skiing in France, Germany or Switzerland, your EHIC and your travel insurance are absolutely essential.
For those of you who haven’t been travelling in a while, the European Health Card (EHIC) is the new version of the E111 card. Like the E111, the EHIC exists to grant you access to State-funded healthcare while on holiday in Europe, and is freely available to the British people through the NHS.
While people generally abhor the thought of an accident or illness occurring while on holiday, the sad fact is that accidents happen. If an accident happens while on holiday, it is significantly worse than if an accident happens while at home. A broken leg doesn’t just ruin your holiday – without a valid EHIC and travel insurance, your broken leg will cost you an extortionate amount of money, too.
With an EHIC you’re covered for all the State-funded emergency healthcare that a local citizen would enjoy in any EEA country (plus Switzerland). While this varies country to country, it generally covers ambulance rides, hospital visits and a discount on medication. Some fees can be reclaimed upon your return to the UK, though this varies based on the country you’re visiting.
Certain things such as air ambulance trips and repatriation generally aren’t covered by the EHIC, though you will find that in certain countries you will get a several thousand pound discount for holding an EHIC should such a serious accident befall you. In these cases it’s best to have full travel insurance – just be aware that travel insurance alone isn’t enough.
In many cases you will find that your travel insurance comes with a clause stating that you need to take full and proper precautions lest your insurance be rendered null and void. Holding a valid EHIC is one such precaution you must take – given that they’re free on the NHS your insurance company expects that you take the time to procure one. If you’ve left it a little late and you don’t have a valid EHIC just yet, you can use a premium service to try to expedite the process.
So what is the EHIC worth, in a nutshell? With a little forward planning, the EHIC is a free card that gets you free healthcare while abroad. Without an EHIC an accident abroad could feasibly cost you thousands of pounds. If you have left it a little late, the EHIC will cost you a small fee, potentially saving you thousands of pounds should the worst happen.