22 July 2013 by Anna Staford
As sun-starved Brits scramble for the continent, you might have spotted the stories about hospitals ‘blocking’ holidaymakers from using their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Such incidents are unusual - that’s why they are news. Unfortunately, stories like this tend to distract people from the bigger issues that affect anyone travelling in Europe right now.
At Globelink Travel Insurance, we regularly hear about people who’ve run into trouble because they didn’t have proper travel insurance. Wild, crazy travellers? Not exactly. Many were travelling with an EHIC, secure in the belief that the free card is all the cover you need for Europe. Just one problem: it isn’t.
So what can you rely on an EHIC to do? Broadly speaking, it gives visitors access to the same subsidised state health treatment as locals receive. You can use it in 32 European countries - including Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and now Croatia. Be warned, though; available treatments can vary widely from country to country.
What an EHIC certainly won’t do is provide emergency repatriation if you’re injured or taken ill. Nor will it help if you have to rent accommodation or have someone from home come over and join you until you’re fit enough to travel. And if, for whatever reason, you have to get private treatment... well, let’s just say you’d surprised how easy it is to run up massive medical bills in no time. For all these reasons, travel insurance is a must.
Some insurers insist on your carrying an EHIC. At Globelink Travel Insurance, we don’t. In fact, we don’t insist on your having an EHIC at all (though if you do end up having to use one, we’ll waive certain excess payments and contributions you’d normally have to pay.) Our policies are there to protect you in the situations described above, not to mention covering you for travel delays, lost or stolen luggage etc. Do remember, incidentally, that Sod’s law still applies, even if you ARE only nipping to GB to see the folk back home!
A final, vital word to anyone who’s planning to stop off in the UK before travelling further afield. Be sure you arrange any cover BEFORE you leave home - or your policy won’t be valid. If you live in another country, don’t be tempted to book cover using a friend’s UK address because you’ve left arrangements to the last minute. Single trip holiday insurance must cover the whole of your return trip, from the date you leave your country of residence to the date you return to you country of residence. Giving a UK address when you’re a Spanish resident for example, is fraud. You won’t be covered, and if you do try to make a claim, prepare to face the music!