Travel Insurance

By taking out travel insurance and getting a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), you can avoid huge medical bills if you have an emergency during your trip.

Healthcare is free at the point of delivery in the UK, but don't assume it's the same abroad. You will often have to pay part, if not all, of your medical bills. If it's serious, the costs could easily be very high.

Having travel insurance and the EHIC/GHIC can avoid large medical bills, delays in treatment and undue stress in the event of a medical emergency.

The EHIC/GHIC, which is free of charge entitles UK residents to free or reduced-cost emergency healthcare when visiting EU countries.   

Since 1 January 2021, EHICs are no longer valid in Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and short term visitors may have to pay for healthcare unless a specific charging exemption applies.

New Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)

GHIC gives UK residents travelling in the EU access to emergency and medically necessary healthcare, including medically necessary treatment for a pre-existing or chronic condition. The GHIC and EHIC cannot be used for any planned medical treatment.

This GHIC replaces EHIC, which remains valid in the EU until its expiry date.

You can apply for a new GHIC free of charge: Healthcare Cover Abroad - EHIC and GHIC.  

If you need medical treatment and do not have your EHIC or GHIC, you will need to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to evidence your entitlement.

Click here for information on Foreign Travel Insurance on the UK Government pages.

New UK EHIC under the Withdrawal Agreement

Individuals covered by the EU Withdrawal Agreement can apply for the new UK EHIC to use in EU Countries, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland from 1 January 2021.

Click here for information on eligibility: Healthcare Cover Abroad - EHIC and GHIC.

Check your policy

The EHIC/GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property.

It's important to have both an EHIC/GHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy. Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC/GHIC and many will waive the excess if you have one.

Each country’s healthcare system varies, so your EHIC/GHIC may not cover all costs or you may be expected to pay for your treatment and then claim a refund using your EHIC/GHIC or insurance policy.

Travel insurance will cover other medical costs that the EHIC/GHIC will not, such as paying for your return journey if illness delays you, or covering your personal contributions towards treatment.

You will also normally receive cover for non-medical emergencies, such as replacing possessions or a lost passport.

Your insurance policy will vary according to your destination and insurer, but cover generally starts at just a few pounds and could save you tens of thousands of pounds.

You may not be fully covered if you are doing any hazardous sports, such as climbing or skiing. Check whether your policy covers the activities you'll be doing.

More Information

For more information on the EHIC and GHIC entitlements, please visit our reciprocal healthcare pages: Travel Health - Reciprocal Healthcare.  



Last Updated: 01/04/2017 09:00:00