If you’re eventually allowed out of the UK on holiday this year, or even further than 2 miles from your front door, then travel insurance is a good idea. In the past an EHIC card theoretically got you free emergency and “necessary” medical care in EU countries. Nice. If you still have a valid EHIC that was applied for back in 2020, or earlier, then it has been agreed that you will get free treatment in the EU until it expires.
Yep, part of the Brexit deal. It’s in writing and everything.
But if you’ve ever tried to claim that free medical care in Spain, Italy, Greece or France, then you’ll now that it’s a bit of a joke in many non-urgent health cases. There is much rolling of eyes, waving and demands that you produce travel insurance before treatment proceeds. If all you need is a slight wound stitching up, a nasty insect bite lancing, or an X-Ray after a scooter crash on Lesbos, then you’ll often be obliged to pay upfront – and then claim on your insurance.
There is no reason to suppose the GHIC card will work any better, but those who fancy applying for one should bear in mind that it is free – there’s no charge by the UK government. They are working on a GHIC agreement with Switzerland too, which is handy as the cost of everything in Switzerland is extremely high.
Scammers online however ARE charging for GHIC cards if they can fool people, as Which? notes;
Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said:
“The launch of the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is good news for consumers after we warned holidaymakers in Europe could face eye-watering medical bills if a reciprocal healthcare agreement was not part of a Brexit deal. We have seen and reported a number of unscrupulous copycat websites charging people to apply for free GHICs, so anyone looking to apply must remain vigilant and only use the official NHS website.
“It is important to remember the GHIC covers fewer countries than the EHIC, so travellers should check they can use it before going abroad. We’d also advise holidaymakers to still buy travel insurance as soon as they book a holiday, so they are covered for other issues that may arise such as cancellations and lost luggage.”
A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said:
“The new Global Health Insurance Card is good news for travellers, but it is not an alternative to having travel insurance. Travellers to the EU and beyond should not leave home without travel insurance. As well as covering what can often be the eye-wateringly high costs of needing emergency overseas medical treatment- in one case a £78,0000 hospital bill in Spain following a road crash – polices can cover risks such as the loss or theft of possessions.”