A friend and I are going on a two week tour through Europe - Spain, France, Italy, Croatia. He told me that I won't need travel insurance if I have a European Health Insurance Card, because it is the same as using the NHS. What are the limitations to an EHIC card and should I still take out a travel insurance policy? Anne Pennington, Bath
Hi there Anne,
I'm so glad you asked this before going on holiday, because it is a common mistake to assume that the EHIC card is the same as having travel insurance. To answer your question quickly: no, you should have both an EHIC card and a travel insurance policy.
The EHIC entitles you to free or reduced cost state health care in countries within the EU - like is available for any other local resident. This is based on a reciprocal agreement between the UK's NHS and the European Union nations (which is why people visiting the UK are entitled to NHS treatment). For more information on the benefits, take a look at our EHIC information page here.
Important Things To Remember
You card needs to be valid to be of any use! Please check the expiry date in the bottom right-hand corner of the card if you have one, and make sure that all travellers in your party (including little ones) have their own.
You can apply for your EHIC up to 6 months in advance and it takes 7-10 working days to be delivered by post, so remember to renew or apply for yours well in advance of your trip.
What Makes It Different From Travel Insurance?
While the EHIC and your travel insurance policy work together when paying for certain medical costs, the EHIC does not act as a comprehensive travel insurance policy. Your EHIC only covers non-private medical assistance, whereas your travel insurance policy will cover you for the following:
- Travel delays, cancellation or curtailment, missed departure and repatriation
- Theft, mugging, hijacking, lost luggage
- Any private medical services - ambulance (in the event of you needing emergency transport), GP's, specialists
It is necessary to have both an EHIC and a travel insurance policy to travel with peace of mind and security. I hope that answers your question, Anne. Have a wonderful trip and travel smart!