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Do I need travel insurance if I have an EHIC?
For European citizens travelling within the EU, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows travellers to access state-provided healthcare within all European Economic Area countries, as well as Switzerland. Basically this means that you will be treated in the same way as a citizen of the country you are visiting with regards to healthcare, should you need it. What’s more, the EHIC is free to all UK residents who apply through the NHS website.
With that in mind, one question that arises is “Do I need travel insurance?” as this will cost me money, especially when the EHIC is free. The short answer is yes, but to understand why it’s important to look at what the EHIC covers and how this differs from travel insurance.
First and foremost, the EHIC only allows travellers access to state-provided healthcare. Unlike travel insurance an EHIC card will not cover you for private medical healthcare, repatriation to the UK or for the loss or theft of your property. Having no access to private medical healthcare may not be an issue for some, as the EHIC does provide cover for state treatment; however, this can incur additional charges. For example, in Italy if you are admitted to hospital via ambulance there will be an additional charge, as the ambulance service is not operated by the state. These charges are non-refundable and are not covered by the EHIC, whereas they would be covered with travel insurance.
Having no repatriation cover to the UK is the second major difference, something that can cost upwards of £25,000. Although no-one wants to think that they will be in a situation where they need repatriation, finding £25,000 at a stressful time would not be an enviable situation – especially as European travel insurance is fairly cheap. For example, the over 50s insurance company Staysure covers travellers for a week in Italy from only £5 (this also includes cover for many medical conditions free of charge).
Lastly, the EHIC provides no cover for any items and possessions that are lost or stolen. Again this is not something that we expect to happen on holiday, but if it does the effects can be devastating. Making sure that you have adequate travel insurance will ensure that should the unforeseen happen you are fully covered.
To summarise, the EHIC is definitely a huge advantage to have on travellers whilst on holiday in the EU, but it should be used in conjunction with travel insurance to make sure that you and your family are fully protected.