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Does EHIC replace travel insurance?

Insurance Questions Answered: 

Why do I need to buy travel insurance when I have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

Despite the name, EHIC is not an insurance policy! EHIC cards enable UK citizens to access free or cost reduced healthcare while travelling in Europe. However, it’s important to remember that the EHIC does not replace travel insurance.

The EHIC will give you the same rights to access the healthcare system of the country you’re staying in as a resident has, which means you will be entitled to any medical treatment that is covered as a statutory right in that country. However, these rights can vary greatly between EU countries.

Very few countries have a free at the point of access healthcare system like the NHS, so if you are travelling with just an EHIC it’s likely that, if you get injured or need medical attention, you will end up having to cover the cost of some of your treatment.

You should note that the EHIC will not cover you if your purpose of travel is to give birth or to seek treatment elsewhere.   

EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance as it does not cover essentials such as repatriation should you get injured, or bills if you are treated in a private medical facility (some countries only have private facilities).

Travel insurance can also provide you with extra cover should something go wrong on your holiday such as your possessions being lost or stolen, legal costs if you get into trouble while you’re away, or disruption to your holiday such as a cancelled flight.

Therefore, when travelling in Europe, it’s important that you have registered for your EHIC and that you have purchased adequate travel cover. Find out more about choosing the right travel insurance policy here.

Register for your EHIC here.

Take a look at our guide to travel insurance.

Where is EHIC valid?

The EHIC is valid in all European Union countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It enables card holders’ access to state-run hospital and GP treatment.

Residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible for the EHIC.

Is EHIC the same as E111?

The E111 form was phased out in 2005, so you’ll need to make sure you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) instead. You can register for one for free here.

You should keep your card with you when travelling in Europe to show that you are covered should you need any treatment.

Will EHIC still be valid after Brexit?

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is unlikely that the EHIC will still be valid. In order for UK citizens to still be able to use the EHIC while travelling in Europe, it will need to be included as part of a withdrawal deal. Take a look at our no deal travel insurance FAQs for more information.

Last updated 28/06/2019