When travelling abroad whether it is as far as Canada or as near as France every traveller is advised to take out travel insurance. Travel insurance is essentially a back up for finances should anything happen whilst on holiday, such as an accident or illness. If you are to fall ill on holiday or be involved in an accident in a foreign country then you may be obliged to pay foreign medical rates instead of reduced medical aid.
The European Health Insurance Card was launched in 2005 replacing the E111 form that was needed to be filled out prior to any holidays taken within the EU. The EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance as most travel insurance companies will only insure you if you also have a valid EHIC, you should check your travel insurance policy to make sure they will cover you if you don’t have one.
Who is eligible for an EHIC?
Every UK resident is entitled to have the EHIC, you may need to receive treatment whilst abroad so the card will ensure you receive free cover or charged the same fee as the residents in the country you are visiting.
It was found a while back that there were fraudulent websites that were popping up promising to process an EHIC for a small fee. The websites looked very professional and many UK residents were fooled into buying one from these websites. If they did a little research they would have found that an EHIC is actually free. You can apply for EHIC through your local post office, over the phone or online, the only time you may be charged is if you opt for the Post Office’s check and send service where a small fee of £1.96 will be charged if you choose to send it off yourself then no fee other than the postage fee will apply.
The EHIC is valid for 5 years, after this time you just need to renew the application free of charge so that you can continue to receive cover should you need. As it is free and provided by the government everyone should have a valid card just in case. You need to bring it with you when you travel, leaving it at home or applying for it to late will not help as you will need to show it as proof. Before each holiday within the EU or qualifying countries check to make sure that it is valid and leave plenty of time to apply for a new one if it has expired.