British holidaymakers need EHIC and travel insurance, says moneysupermarket.com

11 September 2007
Many Brits travelling abroad will be in for a big surprise if they need medical treatment abroad, as a survey from moneysupermarket.com reveals that 59 per cent of people in the UK believe an E111 will give them access to free care.

Secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, David Miliband, points out: “The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - the old E111 form - gives you the right to the same healthcare enjoyed by the citizens of the country you are visiting. No one should travel to Europe without one.”

However, new research from moneysupermarket.com shows that, although the EHIC replaced the E111 in January 2006, more than half of its survey respondents continue to believe the old form will entitle them to free or reduced cost treatment. Furthermore, an incredible 42 per cent believe they could obtain this medical care using their NHS medical card.

The EHIC, which is free, is the only recognised document for medical treatment abroad and each family member must have a card in their own name.

Director of insurance at moneysupermarket.com, Richard Mason, says: “It is astonishing that nearly two years after the card has been phased in, awareness has stayed alarmingly low.”

“Medical treatment in mainland Europe doesn’t come cheap and holidaymakers stand to lose out and suffer unexpected financial pain,” he adds.

However, cardholders should be aware that any non-essential care or treatment can be charged as extras, and that there can be complications if the card is not presented prior to treatment.

Mr Mason says: “Like the E111 before, the EHIC only offers relatively low level financial reimbursement for basic medical bills. Holidaymakers shouldn't view it as a replacement for travel insurance.”

People planning to travel should seriously consider taking out travel insurance, which can protect against lost or stolen possessions, holiday cancellation and personal liability as well as providing comprehensive medical cover.

Find out more about travel insurance and accident travel insurance