If you live in the UK, Ireland, France, or Belgium, you are effectively part of a larger community. If it is not quite one nation, and despite debate over its worth, the European Union binds diverse peoples together. One of the great, if not-so loudly trumpeted, benefits of this union is the European Health Insurance Card.
Free, simple, and open to all EU nationals, it gives you access to basic cover whenever you leave your home shores and travel across Europe. But key to making the most of this innovation of cooperation is knowing when it is not enough.
I need to fly home
Let’s say you’ve decided to take a holiday to Antwerp. While there, you have an accident that requires extensive medical treatment. The EHIC card assures you of cover for your treatment on foreign soil and through a foreign health system (at the same level as the locals) but what if you would prefer to return home for treatment? Unfortunately, you will be faced with a hefty bill since the cover does not extend to the medical transportation back to your country of origin. This quite easily imaginable occurrence is a key reason why the efficacy and appeal of the card should be used as a base, with additional insurance used to extend the cover afforded.
I’ve lost my luggage
The fundamental purpose of the EHIC card is to make sure that EU nationals do not find themselves without assistance outside their home nation. If the EU is to function essentially as a state outside a state, and wishes to encourage free and impartial movement and trade across borders, an open visa system is not enough. People are more likely to travel if the quality of medical assistance they expect at home can be delivered beyond their borders. Yet you need to be well aware that this cover does not extend to the other common vexation travel insurance can mitigate: loss of property. If you lose your property or suffer a theft it will not be covered, which is why a ‘top-up’ of additional insurance is vital.
I need to be rescued
The concept of a ‘top-up’ the cover provided by your EHIC card is very important. You must be aware of the limitations of the card and know just what it does, and does not, cover. There are myriad reputable options to purchase appropriate travel insurance and it is extremely valuable to have. While there is a long list of what can go wrong on holidays, if you’re skiing or hiking, an additional policy that covers rescue operations, should you have an accident or fall ill on a mountain, for example, is imperative as the card will not cover this. Without the assurance of insurance the costs associated with this scenario can be astronomical.
I have extra costs
The EHIC card not only does not cover aspects like a rescue, but its exact provisions and benefits vary from country to country. It is not enough to travel under its umbrella of protection and expect to be fully covered. If, for example, you wish the avoid the extra fees and costs that come from having your itinerary changed, having to travel to medical facilities, or losing a deposit on a hotel, you need to make sure you purchase separate cover through a reputable insurance provider.