British Holiday Makers at Risk

July 8th, 2011
British Holiday Makers at Risk

It appears that 58% of British holiday makers are not aware of the benefits of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). That’s the finding of recent research by the well know web site –

The research also found that a third of Britons believe incorrectly that the E111 normally taken with them on holiday is sufficient to cover then for free or lower cost health care while visiting other EU countries. The E111 was in fact replaced by the EHIC in January 2006.

More disturbingly, a small but significant number of British respondents believed either their NHS card or even their passport was sufficient for free or reduced health care costs.

Speaking with reporters a travel insurance expert at said: “Brits hitting Europe this summer without an EHIC could end up facing a hefty bill if they need medical care while they’re on vacation.

“Medical treatment in the EU and EEAs varies from country to country as well as being very different to NHS provided care in the UK. An EHIC is your ‘pass’ to get free or reduced cost medical treatment in any EU or EEA country.

Holidaymakers will suffer unexpected financial pain if they don’t ensure they have the right documents and produce them when seeking treatment.”

He added: “It’s encouraging to see that EHIC awareness is starting to improve – in 2009 our research showed only 35 per cent of Brits understood an EHIC would help them with medical costs if needed. But our findings show there is clearly still a long way to go to get the message across.”

The research carried out by also found a generation deficit in people’s knowledge about the regulations concerning holiday insurance.

For instance, about a quarter of those under 35 did not know that the E111 would not be of any use to them if they needed medical treatment. However this figure rose to 39% for respondents over 55.

The insurance expert said: “Like the E111 before it, the EHIC only offers relatively low level access to medical treatment. Holidaymakers shouldn’t view it as a replacement for travel insurance, and travellers should also be aware that any non-essential care or treatment can cost extra.

“The cost for many serious accidents, extensive treatment and the need for air ambulance repatriation will not be covered by the EHIC and the costs for this can run into tens of thousands of pounds.”


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