Do I Need Travel Insurance for a Trip to Europe?

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Do I Need Travel Insurance for a Trip to Europe?


The last thing you want to be thinking of is the possibility of having an accident or falling ill while on holiday, but if the worst does happen, the right travel insurance policy can be indispensable in Europe. Travel insurance is going to protect you from hefty costs and medical bills while in Europe, not everywhere has healthcare like the NHS!  I know what’s probably going through your head, ‘I’m young, healthy, heading to Europe with my friends, I only need my EHIC card’. Well, that may be the case, but this blog will hopefully give you some food for thought as we will be explaining what the European Health Insurance (EHIC) card is, how it works and what will happen after Brexit.

European Health Insurance Card Explained

If you are a resident in the UK you can apply for a European Health Insurance Card, which gives you access to state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes it can be free, when temporarily visiting an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. The European Health Insurance Card is free, and valid for up to five years (make sure you apply for a FREE card, some websites will charge you for the card). You’ll need to supply the NHS or national insurance number, surname, forenames and date of birth of applicants.

Some people have the idea that they don’t need travel insurance when travelling around Europe because they have an EHIC, but do they actually know what it entitles them to?

When presenting your EHIC card, this entitles you to treatment that may become necessary during your trip. This doesn’t mean you can go abroad just to receive medical care, but routine maternity care, renal dialysis and managing the symptoms of existing or chronic conditions that arise while abroad are covered. So, is this card enough? Should you not buy travel insurance for Europe?

Advice from the UK Government and the NHS is that the European Health Insurance Card is NOT an alternative to travel insurance, as it doesn’t cover the costs of private healthcare or services that are not part of the state healthcare system. If you’re at a ski resort, an EHIC will not cover mountain rescue or being brought back to the UK.

European Health Insurance Card vs Travel insurance for a trip to Europe

When you’re weighing up whether or not you should risk going abroad with travel insurance, you must remember that each country’s healthcare system is different! Do you want to risk your EHIC not covering everything you would expect for free on the NHS? Did you know that some state-run hospitals use privately-operated ambulance services, meaning you have to pay?

If you want to avoid unnecessary private medical bills, seek state-provided medical card and present your EHIC where possible before receiving treatment.

If you purchase travel insurance, not only are you covering medical costs, some policies will also cover you if your belongings are lost or stolen while or way, or if you need to cut your trip short (this can sometimes be an additional cost). Without insurance, you might have to cover emergency expenses on your own, the British Consulate is unlikely to help you.

EHIC and Brexit

As Brexit stands, an EHIC card will only work for UK citizens up until the UK leaves the EU, which is expected to be before 31 January 2020.

If you are concerned about whether your EHIC card will work after the UK leaves the EU, be aware that a standard travel insurance policy will cover you for any medical costs included in your policy.


When you book a package through us, we can provide you with a travel insurance quote. The safety of our customers while away on their European adventure is of extreme importance to us! We want our customers to have a safe and memorable trip.