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What is the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)?

The EHIC was formerly known as the E111 form. Introduced to provide the same medical treatment received by local residents, to travellers for free or at a reduced cost. Anyone covered by the statuary social scheme - made up of EEA countries and Switzerland - is entitled to receive medical care. Therefore, should an incident occur on your travels and you require medical attention, you won't necessarily need to return home.

It's important to understand your EHIC entitlement and why you still need a holiday insurance policy too.

Cover provided by your EHIC

Should you have an accident and require immediate medical attention, treatments you receive may be covered by the EHIC. This does include medical conditions and pregnancy - providing you aren't travelling specifically for treatment or to give birth. If labour occurs unexpectedly then of course, you will receive medical care and the EHIC will cover any treatment for mother and baby. The same applies to any emergency treatment required for your existing condition.

Will I have to pay for any medical treatment?

This varies from country to country. In some countries, like the UK, medical treatment is free! However, in other participating countries you might have to pay for treatment up front or contribute a sum - also know as a co-payment. Retain all paperwork regarding medical treatment you receive, you may be able to claim your money back upon return to the UK.

It is also important to remember that the level of care varies from country to country also.

Why do I need travel insurance as well?

Your EHIC provides cover for strictly non-private medical care. A good travel insurance policy and EHIC work well together and in some cases, means you don't have to fork out for excess payments but we would always insist you take both on holiday!

What does the EHIC not cover?

You need to know what your EHIC will not cover you for so additional costs don't come as too much of a shock. The good news is, if you have secured a travel insurance policy in addition to your EHIC - you are covered for everything listed below and more!

1. Private medical cover

If there's no state healthcare available, your EHIC won't cover the costs of private hospitals, leaving you stung with high costs. By adding travel insurance, you'll be able to avoid this, and not have to worry about which kind of hospital you're going to.

2. Mountain rescue

If you're skiing and the worst happens, the EHIC won't cover mountain rescue costs.

3. Getting you home

In an emergency, you won't be covered for the costs of getting you home safely.

4. Theft, lost luggage and hijacking

A good travel insurance policy is vital for covering you under such circumstances.

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How do I apply or renew my EHIC?

Applying for your EHIC is quick and simple, it is also absolutely free. You should not have to pay for it, so be sure to use the official website here to renew and apply for your EHIC. Do not trust sites promising a faster service for a fee.