Simon Bentley
Author: Simon Bentley, Head Of Customer Interaction

Simon has over 15 years experience in the insurance industry and looks after our website, making sure our customers have the best experience possible!

Originally posted: 10th Mar 2014

Features of the EHIC

Many tourists think that carrying a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is enough to cover any medical emergency whilst on holiday in Europe. But the European Health Insurance Card should never be used as a replacement for travel insurance as it doesn't provide suitable cover on its own. For one, the EHIC won't cover repatriation back to the UK, which can be a colossal expense.
The EHIC is free to all British nationals and it can be used in the European Economic Area and Switzerland for access to state provided healthcare.

Access to state provided healthcare

Your EHIC entitles you to cheap (and sometimes free) state provided healthcare in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. Remember that healthcare that is normally free on the NHS might not be abroad. It's important to remember that healthcare in other countries will not always be to the same level you would expect from the NHS.

Free to all British nationals

The EHIC is free to all British nationals

Apply online

Apply for your EHIC online quickly and conveniently at

Other means of applying

Apply by calling 0845 606 2030 or by filling out an application form at your local post office.

Personal details

Just provide your name, address and National Insurance or NHS number.


Your EHIC is valid for up to five years.

Replacement for E111 forms

The EHIC has replaced E111 forms, which are now invalid.

Individual cards

Each traveller should have their own EHIC, including children.


Adults must apply for an EHIC on behalf of children under 16.

Travel Insurance

The EHIC should not be used as an alternative for travel insurance. The EHIC does not cover repatriation costs or other expenses such as lost baggage or travel delay.

Maternity care and pre existing medical conditions

The EHIC will cover maternity care and symptoms that arise as a result of pre existing medical conditions whilst you are abroad.

Specific treatment abroad

The EHIC will not cover the cost of specific treatment you plan to receive abroad or private healthcare.

Take your EHIC with you

When you are on holiday, carry your EHIC with you as proof of your entitlement to state provided healthcare.

Buy travel insurance to accompany your EHIC

Some Brits have had to face the devastating mistake of carrying a European Health Insurance Card without accompanying it with comprehensive travel insurance. Some have had accidents or severe health problems. Some aspects of their medical treatment were covered by their EHICs, but their repatriation back to the UK was not.

Tourists that require repatriation back to the UK on a specialist flight will be covered by their travel insurance, but it will not be covered by an EHIC. Special air carriers that provide stabilisers or specialist medical equipment can cost thousands of pounds.

Some British travellers have been stranded in Europe after sustaining severe injuries or illnesses, all because they thought their EHIC would be enough to cover all their expenses. Don't get caught out. Buy comprehensive travel insurance to accompany your EHIC to ensure you have full cover. Travel insurance is also necessary to cover the cost of lost or stolen baggage, cancellation and travel delay.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't travel much then a single trip cover is perfect as you can cover specific dates suited to your trip. If you have cancellation cover, you'll also benefit from this as soon as you buy your policy. If you travel 2 or more times a year, it may be cheaper for you to go for an annual trip cover. It's best to start your annual trip cover as soon as possible, as if you have cancellation cover, you'll only benefit from this from your policy start date.
A pre-existing condition is a diagnosed medical condition that existed before taking out a policy. We'll ask a series of questions about the medical history for you and any travellers on your quote. If you answer yes to any of these, you will need to tell us about the traveller's conditions. This could be a condition that a traveller has now, or has had in the past. If you are not sure what conditions you need to declare, we have online support available to help you 24/7!
It's really simple and quick to do! After you've told us about your trip details and answered some medical history questions you can add your pre-existing conditions, one by one, for each traveller. You'll only need to enter your details once, it's all online and there's no need to call, or provide details of your conditions in writing.
You will need to add each country that you are visiting. If you are on a flight stopover this will include any countries where you leave the airport. If you are on a cruise it includes any countries where your ship will be docking at.
If you are taking out single trip cover, and have cancellation cover included, you'll be covered for cancellation from the moment you buy your policy. However, if you are taking out annual trip cover, and have cancellation cover included, you'll be covered from the start date of your policy. Consider starting your annual trip cover as soon as possible, especially if you have already booked your trip!
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