Do I need travel insurance in Europe?

There’s a lot of myths and confusion on this topic, so it’s really worth understanding. So let Pluto break it down for you.

TL;DR: You definitely need it when you leave the UK, even if you think it’s safe or low risk.

What’s this EHIC all about?

European Health Insurance Card, rolls right off the tongue! It was called the E111, so I guess anything is an improvement.

It's essentially an agreement between EU countries (and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) to allow their residents to treatment in state hospitals at the same price as the people living there. So if they get it for free, so do you!

So what does the EHIC it cover?

The headline is that is provides access to state run medical care. The devil is in the detail though. Not all countries are the same, and importantly not all countries are the same as the UK. Many countries charge fees for ambulances and sometimes you may be taken to a private clinic (because it’s an emergency and it’s closer). So you may well end up having some scary medical bills!

What doesn't the EHIC it cover?

A lot! An awful lot actually. This is where travel insurance really steps up. Aside from covering medical costs in both state and private hospitals, it can be used to help get you home if you've missed your flight because of an injury or you're too ill to fly back normally.

But away from illness and injury, the EHIC won't cover you if: you miss your flight, you can no longer go away, you have to come home early, something gets stolen, your baggage is delayed, you get the idea! Travel insurance covers this and then some, and it's not very expensive at all, so always worth having for that peace of mind.

How do I use my EHIC?

They're very easy to use if you take it with you on your travels. Just present it before you get any treatment. It's best to just keep it in your purse or wallet.

In some cases you won't have to pay for your treatment with the EHIC, but in some countries you will still have to pay the bill yourself and claim it back from the UK government when you're back home.

But, what about Brexit? 😥

The government has said existing EHIC agreements will continue after the UK leaves the EU, but, no deal has yet been reached. We're optimistic.

Get me my EHIC!

The card is free but has to be renewed every 5 years. You can order it and find out more from the NHS.

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The two co-founders of Pluto, Alex & Harry.