European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - News

Getting Around Common Exclusions on Travel Policies

September 9, 2016

Exclusions are part and parcel of buying insurance, and whether you’re looking at policies for car insurance or travel insurance, it’s important to be aware of what your policy does not cover you for, and take steps to lessen the risks of being unable to claim. Sometimes exclusions are obvious – for example if you are told by the Foreign Office not to travel to a country as it’s too dangerous, you cannot expect your travel insurance to be valid. However many people are less aware of some of the other common exclusions, and can be seriously out of pocket if they haven’t understood their cover.


One of the most common exclusions from cover is alcohol related incidents. Policy wording will typically talk about “judgement being affected” or your actions being “impaired” by having had a drink. This is all fairly vague though, and in many cases any indication that someone has been drinking before an accident will result in the insurer refusing to pay out. So what are the options, apart from not risking having a glass of wine or pint of beer in case you have a fall on the way home? If you are holidaying in Europe, always travel with EHIC cover. EHIC will cover your emergency medical treatment by a doctor or in hospital irrespective of the cause of your accident or illness, and even when it is down to having had too much to drink. The treatment may not be completely free as some countries charge patient contributions for inpatient treatment and tests, but it will be significantly less than the full cost of private treatment. It is never a good idea to drink so much that you put yourself, or others, in danger.

Car Hire, Quad Bikes and Scooters

One of the most common causes of accidents overseas is road accidents, often caused by people hiring quad bikes, scooters or other motorbikes when they are unfamiliar with the bikes or with the local roads. Many travel insurance policies will refuse to cover your medical costs if you fall off a motorbike and do not have a UK motorbike licence. Many refuse to pay out on any type of quad bike accident or for anything connected with off-road driving. Again, EHIC will help with the emergency costs of treatment if you do have a motorbike or quad bike accident in one of the EEA countries, but additional costs such as rearranging flights or physiotherapy won’t be covered.

Winter and Extreme Sports

Experienced skiers and snowboarders are aware that they need specialist insurance for their holidays, but many other sports are also excluded from standard insurance cover. Holidaymakers are often surprised to find things like scuba or mountain biking are not covered. The choice is either to pay a little extra and get full insurance cover, or use EHIC cover should you be injured. For winter sports, EHIC alone may not be enough as state healthcare in many parts of Europe does not cover mountain rescue or helicopter transfers to hospital from the mountainside.

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