Holidays 2018: This is why you still need travel insurance even with an EHIC card | Travel News | Travel

Travel insurance is a vital purchase before you head off on your summer holiday. This is the latest travel advice

“It’s your safety net protecting you against the unexpected. Being abroad isn’t the same as being at home and people can forget that,” Mark Colonnese, Director at travel tech specialist Aquarium Software, told

“Without insurance, help can be a very long way away and very costly.”

However, many Britons are under the impression that travel insurance is unnecessary if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card with the majority overestimating its benefits.  

An EHIC – free to most UK residents – entitles the bearer to the same level of state medical care provided to eligible nationals of the European Economic Area (EEA) country they’re travelling in.

However, this is often not sufficient and additional travel insurance is still needed.

“Even in Europe, the EHIC card is not enough; and while the UK has reciprocal health agreements with some countries, this again tends to cover the basics and cannot be relied on to cover, say, repatriation expenses,” said Mark.

“If you are waiting for the government to fly you home in a crisis, you will again be waiting a long time. 

“Many people take a chance, which is why we have seen the advent of Facebook appeals to raise money to get people without insurance home. 

“This must be a terrible situation to be in and for what insurance costs, is simply not worth the risk.”

New research from GoCompare Travel has found that 59 per cent of UK consumers who’ve been abroad in the last five years believe it entitles them to free emergency medical care anywhere in Europe.

Four per cent believe it will get them free emergency medical treatment anywhere in the world, while nine per cent believe that carrying an EHIC will entitle them to an air ambulance flight home if they’re seriously ill or injured and need to be repatriated to the UK. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case.

Georgie Frost, Consumer Advocate at GoCompare, said: “Each year, thousands of holidaymakers use an EHIC to access free or discounted emergency medical treatment in 27 European countries, and everyone travelling to Europe this summer should have one. They are free, so no excuses.

“However, the EHIC is NOT an alternative to having suitable travel insurance. The fact it’s called an ‘insurance card’ is quite confusing. 

“It’s vital people understand the benefits and limitations of the card to avoid becoming one of the horror stories we read about when people become seriously ill but have no cover and rely on family, friends or crowdfunding to pay for medical bills or an air ambulance home. When you consider that a decent policy can cost less than a pair of flip-flops, it’s not worth taking the risk.”

Mark has shared his top tips to buying travel insurance: “The rule as always is shop around and specify the exact locations you’re visiting and the type of activities you’re going to take part in. 

“Have in front of you the key things you need your insurance to cover and then look for insurance and the best prices based on those needs. Don’t be tempted just to look for the cheapest possible price first. 

“Pre-existing medical conditions are much in the news and the fear of higher premiums leads many not to make a full declaration. This invalidates your insurance and you would have wasted your money. 

“There have been a lot of scare stories about inflated premiums for pre-existing medical conditions but if you are honest and have a manageable condition, then it is possible to source affordable cover; while there are specialist providers out there who can help with more complex conditions.”

“The best advice is always to start early and book your insurance as soon as you can. Another good tip is to check FCO advice on where you are planning to visit. This can easily be forgotten but if you are planning to do something or go somewhere the FCO advise against – you could inadvertently invalidate your insurance.”

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis recently revealed how Brexit will impact your EHIC card.

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