Do I need an EHIC card AND travel insurance for my holiday this summer? Our expert reveals all

Do I need an EHIC card AND travel insurance for my holiday this summer? Our expert reveals all

Dear Tricia

I’m really confused about whether I need travel insurance for my holiday to Spain next month. I’ve got an EHIC and thought as we haven’t come out of Europe yet that would cover me. But a friend has said this is no longer valid and I should get insurance.

Sheila, Liverpool

Tricia replies:

Medical costs abroad could leave you in hot water

There is lots of confusion over the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) , mainly because it has the word insurance in the title. Half of Brits think it entitles them to free medical treatment – it doesn’t.

While it is one of the most useful bits of plastic you can pack for European breaks, it is not a replacement for travel insurance.

You need both of them to be fully covered while on holiday.

The EHIC gives access to medical care, but only at the same level as locals in the EU country you visit. While some medical care can be free, or at a reduced cost, many countries don’t have a free system like our NHS.

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Also, the card does not offer any help if you need to be flown home in an emergency.

If you don’t have travel insurance you will be stuck and have to pay the costs of being repatriated. There is no help from the government, or any other organisation, and the costs for repatriation can run into tens of thousands of pounds.

Travel insurance also gives you cover should your flight or holiday be delayed or cancelled or your baggage lost.

Travel insurance offers cover if you get stuck at the airport

Ideally you should take out travel insurance when booking a holiday, although not through the tour operator as this can work out expensive. That way you will be covered should anything happen that would mean you have to cancel your trip.

The EHIC is currently valid but we will have to wait and see what happens once we enter the Brexit talks.