Sainsbury's Travel Insurance issues an important warning to travellers as research reveals that over the past 12 months, 3.5 million people have travelled to Europe and not taken out travel insurance because they felt it was not necessary as they had a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The bank warns that this will only provide you with access to the same state-provided healthcare as a resident of the country you are visiting, and it will not be of any help if you require repatriation, private healthcare or encounter any other type of problem or emergency.
Sainsbury's Travel Insurance is urging people travelling to European ski destinations to make sure that they have adequate travel insurance and also their EHIC card. Its research reveals one in 10 who have travelled to Europe during the past 12 months had medical treatment through their EHIC card; 3% for food poisoning, 10% for heat attacks and 12% for flu-type bugs. Winter sports accidents accounted for 8% of cases.
Sam Marrs of Sainsbury's Travel Insurance says, "Many people wrongly overlook travel insurance because they think their EHIC will cover them when they are abroad, but it will not cover you for private medical care, nor will it pay for you to be airlifted off a ski slope or repatriated to the UK. By not having travel insurance, many people are taking on a great risk when they travel in Europe. A good quality travel insurance policy doesn't just pick up the tab, it provides 24 hour emergency contacts who will help you resolve crisis situations whilst abroad, helping you bridge language barriers and supporting your loved ones should you die.”
Even with their EHIC card, British people travelling in Europe may still have to pay an initial cost for some treatment, which they may be able to seek reimbursement for when they are back in the UK - this is limited to the equivalent cost on the NHS. Of those who have had medical treatment in Europe through their EHIC cards, only 49% did not have to pay anything and the others on average paid £386. Of those who did pay, 51% did not claim any of this back when they returned to the UK. Travel insurance would cover these costs.