Filling Out An Ehic Form Is Not Getting Travel Insurance
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Obtaining and completing a basic EHIC form is one of the first things you need to do if you plan to travel within the Eurozone. The problem, however, is that an alarming number of British holidaymakers – around one in five, according to ABTA – are travelling uninsured.

Confusion and false assumptions about the scope and purpose of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is one of primary reasons so many people are confused and may end up uninsured whilst abroad. So what, exactly, does the card cover, and why should you get travel insurance as well as filling out the EHIC form to claim your card?

EHIC Coverage

First things first: filling out an EHIC form, applying for the card and receiving it is all totally free. You can pay a third party to process the paperwork for you, but, in fact, getting the card will cost you nothing if you choose to do it yourself.

British, EU, EEA or Swiss nationalities residing in the UK are eligible for the card and the same is true for anyone receiving exportable benefits from the UK.

The card entitles you access to state healthcare in the country you are visiting. This means that you’ll receive the same medical perks as a citizen of that country receives.

Do note, however, that these benefits vary greatly from country to country. The benefits you receive in Greece, for example, will not be identical to the benefits you receive in France. A Greek state hospital will usually waive your treatment fees, while a French state hospital will usually charge you a 20% co-payment. The specific lists of benefits by country can be found on the official NHS site.

However, this is the extent of what the EHIC covers. For anything beyond this, you will have to foot the bill unless you have private travel insurance.

Travel Insurance

Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first. The EHIC will not cover the cost of your luggage if it gets lost in the airport and neither will it entitle you to a refund on your flight tickets and hotel reservations if something delays your trip or you choose to cancel it. So it makes sense to purchase private cover to protect you from that, but why get health care from travel insurance when the EHIC already covers healthcare?

Firstly, purchasing your own travel insurance will ensure that you don’t have to pay any money out of your own pocket at all. Co-paying a portion of your total treatment fees can still put a dent in your finances; after all, 20% of £10,000 is still £2,000 – a significant chunk of money if you find yourself in dire straits while abroad. Now imagine if you got into serious trouble with surgery, treatment, therapy and medication reaching into the tens of thousands of pounds.

Secondly, the EHIC will not cover evacuation or repatriation back to the UK. If you ever find yourself needing to be airlifted off a remote mountain ski slope or brought back to the UK for treatment for any reason, you will have to pay for it out of your own pocket if you don’t have travel insurance. And that can add up to staggering costs.

Thirdly, you can extend travel insurance to cover you if you get injured while undertaking risky activities – such as skiing, scuba diving or horseback riding. You’ll have to pay a bit more to be covered while engaging in risky activities, but the extra protection will be worth it if you do meet with an accident.

Finally, you have the option to receive private healthcare. Being shoved into a crowded ward or waiting in long lines for a state doctor to tend to you might not be the most pleasant way to recover from illness or injury.

With all these aspects in mind, it's important to remember just how important it is to fill out both an EHIC form and purchase travel insurance. They complement each other perfectly to give you total peace of mind.

P.K. Chong is the Managing Director of All About EHIC. As a major insurance authority, we provide information and top up insurance for those travellers who fill out the EHIC form for the European Health Insurance Card. This top up insurance will cover issues not covered by the EHIC card.


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