Fish Insurance
Speak to one of our experts 0333 331 3770

Even MPs wrongly believe European Health Card is alternative to travel insurance

A survey by the Association of British Travel Agents has revealed that confusion over the benefits offered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) extends to our own parliamentary representatives.

The ABTA MP Holiday Survey found that nearly one in five – 18% – members of parliament thought that if they had an EHIC or used a credit card to book hotels or flights then this was a suitable alternative to travel insurance. Astonishingly 15% of MPs also ignored the Foreign & Commonwealth’s strong advice to take out travel insurance when journeying overseas.

The findings highlight wider public misconceptions regarding what the EHIC does and does not cover. It does not provide a blank cheque for medical treatment offering only access to state provided healthcare within the European Economic Area (and Switzerland) “at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free.” Where you travel matters as different EEA countries adopt different policies. In France you may need meet consultation costs upfront and then only be able to reclaim 70% back under the EHIC scheme.

Important costs the card will not settle also include those associated with the medical repatriation of a patient to the UK – Wanderlust magazine reports that an air ambulance from the Canaries might bill as high as £16,000 and from the US up to £45,000.

An air ambulance from the Us might cost as much as £45,000

The NHS offers clear advice on the issue stating: “The card 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. This makes it 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.”

It’s advice with which we naturally agree, not simply as a broker specialising in sourcing people travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions and to cover disabilities, but because we believe it is simply too risky for anyone to travel without effective insurance. If the worst should happen it only gets worse if you and your loved ones are then landed with hefty medical, repatriation, cancellation or curtailment costs.

We’d add too that according to the newly published Helping British Nationals Abroad report published by the FCO show that hospitalisation of British citizens abroad increased by three percent in 2014/15. Perhaps unsurprisingly given its enduring popularity with British holidaymakers, Spain recorded the highest number of British nationals hospitalised.

For help, speak
to one of our team
call 0333 331 3770

A photo of a customer service employee.