Travel insurance fact sheet

26 February 2015

The summer holiday season is fast approaching. Quite often a large ‘to do’ list is required in order to plan for your holiday but it is important to remember that holiday insurance should feature on that list.

Accidents can happen and illnesses can occur when you are on holiday and it is very important to make sure that if this happens, you and your family have adequate insurance cover to allow you to obtain the necessary medical treatment and also, be able to get your money back for any treatment costs. Whilst NHS healthcare is free in the UK, you cannot assume that it will be the same abroad.

If you require treatment abroad, you may have to bear some if not all of the costs which could be very high.

By making sure that you have adequate cover, you can avoid large medical bills and the stress caused by a medical emergency.

What do I need?

If you are travelling in Europe, you should apply for The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which replaced the old E111 in 2006.

To apply visit

In addition to this and if you are travelling outside Europe you will need to take out travel insurance.

Do I also need travel insurance?

Yes. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. Therefore, it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy.

Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC and many will waive the excess if you have one.

What are the benefits of the EHIC?

The EHIC lets you obtain state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care.

In some countries, you may have to pay a patient contribution, also known as a co-payment.

You may be able to get a refund for these payments when you're back in the UK if you could not do so in the country where you were treated.

The EHIC will not cover your medical expenses if you are going abroad specifically to have treatment (including giving birth).

Who can apply?

Any person who is ordinarily resident in the UK, and is of British, other EU/EEA or Swiss nationality, is eligible for an EHIC.

Where is the card valid?

The EHIC is valid in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland. For more information about what is covered in each country see the country-by-country guide at

How much does the card cost?

An EHIC renewal or application is entirely free of charge if you apply via