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Heading to The Euro Zone this summer? Make sure you take your EHIC with you

There can be a lot of confusion about the EHIC card and what it does and does not cover, so below are a few pointers.

What is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
EHICs replaced the old E111 cards in 2006. An EHIC gives UK travellers access to the same state-provided medical treatment that local residents receive in other EU or EEA countries. State medical provision varies, and many countries expect individuals to pay for treatment. Even with an EHIC you may have to do the same, although you may be able to claim this back when you return to the UK, but you must have the funds available to pay in the first place.
Is an EHIC an alternative to travel insurance?
No, because it only entitles you to basic medical treatment and doesn’t cover private medical healthcare costs such as mountain rescue and repatriation costs. And while treatment for things such as maternity care and chronic pre-existing conditions that flare up when you’re abroad will be covered, accidents and extensive treatment may not be. Travel insurance is therefore still essential.  If you do have a medical condition that could flare up whilst on holiday it is advisable to have pre existing medical conditions travel insurance.
Do I need an EHIC if I have medical conditions travel insurance?
If you are travelling to Europe you should have an EHIC card. Many insurance companies will insist upon it.  As stated above the EHIC has not been designed as a replacement for travel insurance, but to go hand in hand with travel insurance.  Your travel insurance provider will take care of any claim for you and pay any medical costs, less your policy excess, and it is up to the travel insurance provider to claim back any moneies due from the EHIC scheme.  Travel insurance also covers much more that just medical expenses, there is cover for cancellation, delayed departure, lost baggage and much much more.
How much does an EHIC cost?
EHIC cards are available free and you can apply for one at or by calling 0845 606 2030.  There are companies who will offer to apply for an EHIC for you and charge you a fee, but please don’t use these companies the cards are free and the application is very simple.
Is my EHIC valid forever?

EHICs are only valid for five years. They were introduced in 2006, so millions of people could be carrying cards which are soon to expire. If you’re travelling to Europe this summer, make sure you check your EHIC is still valid, and if you don’t have a card apply for one now.

You can have a look at some of our previous blogs here and here which details what you are covered for under the EHIC in particular EU countries.
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