European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - News

Getting Ill Overseas Can Cost More Than Buying A New House

September 12, 2016

We all know that we should make sure we have adequate insurance before jetting off on holiday, but not everyone gets organised with their EHIC cover or travel insurance before they pack their cases. Most people who fall ill on holiday suffer relatively minor illnesses or accidents, and the average claim for medical related expenses is £700. However, for those unlucky enough to have a serious accident, the costs can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. One unfortunate traveller had a serious multiple fracture of the leg in the USA and the bill for surgery and air transport back to the UK topped £500,000. Despite these mind-boggling amounts, surveys show that 20% of us think nothing about travelling uninsured. Few of us can afford to pay out thousands on unexpected medical bills, so what can be done to bring down the cost of insurance and help avoid eye-watering bills?

EHIC For Europe

If you are spending your holidays in Europe, then the first thing to do is get online and apply for your EHIC. This card will give you access to state healthcare across all of the countries which make up the European Economic Area (EEA) and you will be treated on the same basis as a local resident. That doesn’t mean that treatment is free, but you will only be charged minimal contributions rather than the full cost of private treatment. Unlike other insurance policies, EHIC has no excess and it will also cover pre-existing or chronic conditions. EHIC is a valuable tool to get medical assistance in an emergency, and many travel insurance companies will offer reduced premiums to customers with a valid EHIC. Shop around to find the best value policy for your needs.

Annual Policies

Even when you are not planning on leaving Europe, EHIC alone might not be enough for your insurance needs. EHIC won’t pay to get you home in an emergency, and depending on the country may not cover rehabilitation or prescription medication. Annual policies can sometimes offer better value for money than buying a separate policy each time you travel, but most will have small print about the number of consecutive days you can be outside the UK. Don’t assume that all policies are the same, and sometimes very cheap policies are very cheap for a reason – because the cover they offer is poor.

Cover for Extreme or Risky Sports

Part of the fun of being on holiday is taking part in sporting activities you wouldn’t ordinarily do, such as scuba diving or mountain biking. Neither of those activities are considered “dangerous”, but are often classed as such by insurance underwriters. Check what your cover gives you before agreeing to go on a dive or on a mountain hike. EHIC will cover injury caused for whatever reason in Europe, but remember that in some countries you will be expected to pay the full costs of mountain rescue or helicopter transfers to hospital.

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