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A common misconception of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is that it guarantees free medical treatment within Europe much as you would expect from the NHS in the UK. Because of this many who have one will decide not to take out travel insurance for their trip. However, this is not necessarily true. In this blog we will explain exactly what an EHIC card entitles you to whilst in Europe and why you may want to think again before going abroad without travel insurance.
The UK has an agreement with all countries within the EEA plus Switzerland, Iceland and Norway to provide free medical care to any citizen whilst in their country on a short term trip for business or leisure. That is not whilst living there on a permanent basis. This care must be in public hospitals and the EHIC card with appropriate ID, such as a passport or driving license, must be shown to qualify. However, often in some remote areas, public hospitals will be farther away and it may not always be possible to be admitted to one. This means on occasion, holidaymakers have been taken to private hospitals where the EHIC card does not apply. This often happens in ski resorts, for example,having to be admitted to hospital abroad you could then be faced with a hefty medical bill. With the average cost of medical treatment abroad at an astonishing £2,470, you can see why travel insurance can save your pennies if you do end up in a private hospital!
It is also important to note that the EHIC card does not include cover for repatriation to the UK if you miss your flight home. This also doesn’t include cover for extra seats on the plane if you have broken your leg for example. Therefore, you may incur costs when returning to the UK if you have to rearrange and purchase a new flight and buy extra room yourself, or worse still if you need an air ambulance. Having travel insurance in place will mean that you will not need to worry as this will be sorted by the company and costs covered. And with the average cost of travel insurance if travelling within Europe at £15.47 it’s easy to see how this could save you a lot of money should you be unlucky enough to need medical treatment whilst away.
In conclusion, an EHIC card is a travel essential however we strongly recommend also taking out some travel insurance cover for those situations where unfortunately the card does not offer cover.
With SportsCover Direct our travel insurance offers 24hr assistance should you be ill or injured abroad so our assistance company will be on hand should you be unfortunate enough to need medical treatment on your trip. We will also cover reasonable costs for a relative to stay with you, or travel out to be with you. Our policies include cover of up to £10,000,000 for medical expenses and repatriation and we waive the £90 medical expenses excess if the EHIC card is accepted by the hospital or clinic. We also include £2,000,000 personal liability and up to £5,600 cover for sports equipment plus many more benefits giving you peace of mind on your next trip.