If you’ve been browsing around travel insurance or holiday sites, you’ve probably come across the term EHIC. But do you know what it stands for? EHIC is the European Health Insurance Card. It’s a credit card sized piece of plastic which has your name, date of birth and other details on it, and which you can use to get access to state healthcare in any of the countries which make up the EEA.
EHIC is a valuable add-on to your holiday insurance policy. Often, your travel insurance will have an excess of £100 or more, meaning you have to foot the bill until your charges reach that level. EHIC entitles you to state health care on the same terms as a national of the country you’re in, and that usually means either free healthcare, or healthcare at a minimal cost. If you’re in a country like Germany or France where the public healthcare system is excellent, why incur any more costs than you have to?
EHIC is also very useful for people who suffer chronic illnesses, or those who find that their pre-existing conditions are excluded from their insurance cover. EHIC will cover any illnesses, whether or not you were aware you were ill before you travelled overseas.
It’s important to remember though that despite the obvious benefits of EHIC, it shouldn’t be seen as an alternative to a travel insurance policy. EHIC won’t pay to fly you home in an air ambulance, or deal with any of the additional costs you incur when you’re ill abroad. Travel insurance policies also cover other events such as losing your wallet or having your baggage going astray. Shop around though, some insurers will offer a reduction on premiums for customers who have organised EHIC cover for their family before leaving home.