29 Apr Travel insurance or the EHIC card? Both!
Anyone travelling to any country in the European Union as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland should definitely ensure they have an up-to-date EHIC card and carry this with them at all times. This little card slips comfortably into any wallet or purse and will entitle you to state-provided healthcare in any of these countries. And what’s more, it’s completely free!
But it’s important to be aware of the limitations of the EHIC card and why relying only on this could leave you seriously out of pocket if the worst happens. So for complete cover, it’s strongly advisable to take out travel insurance (and these aren’t our words, but the words of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office). Let us explain below why this is the case.
Why the EHIC card may not be sufficient
Firstly, let’s have a quick recap on all the countries where the EHIC card is accepted:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
So now we know in which countries we can whip out the EHIC card, let’s remind ourselves exactly what cover this entitles us to. The only cover provided with the EHIC card is access to state provided healthcare in the above countries.
But, and this is a big but, many of these countries do not have a healthcare system comparable with the NHS, in terms of being free at the point of delivery. So in many countries, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden a co-payment system exists, where citizens of these countries must pay a fee to access certain services. And exactly the same will apply to anyone using an EHIC card in these countries, meaning they too will have to pay a fee.
It’s also important to add to this the fact that state provided healthcare may not be as comprehensive or as widespread in some of these countries, when compared to the UK. So if you’re in an area where there are only private healthcare services on offer, you will not be able to use your EHIC card.
The benefits of travel insurance
Faced with the above shortcomings of the EHIC card, travel insurance plays an important role, ensuring you are fully covered and not out of the pocket should the EHIC card not provide you with access to free healthcare.
And there are yet more benefits with travel insurance, such as if you fall seriously ill during your trip and need emergency medical repatriation back to the UK. This can cost tens of thousands of pounds and is not covered under the EHIC card. With Coverontrip Travel Insurance, we even the cover cost of a relative accompanying you during your repatriation.
But it’s not just medical coverage that travel insurance provides, as a comprehensive policy will also provide cover for cancellation, curtailment, lost or stolen baggage and money, personal liability and personal accident, amongst other things. None of this is covered with the EHIC card.
So bear in mind the importance of buying travel insurance the next time you’re travelling to one of these countries and get a travel insurance quote from Coverontrip, to ensure you’re fully covered should the worst happen.