If you’re an EU citizen, you should always take a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you whenever you go on holiday elsewhere in Europe. This ensures that if you fall ill or get injured during your trip you will be covered to use public health services at the same cost as if you were a local. If you’re going on an extreme sports holiday, the risk of injury is a lot higher than if you were simply taking it easy on the beach or wandering through city attractions. So, whether your chosen activity is scuba diving, rock climbing, skiing, or something in between, don’t leave home without your EHIC.
WHAT DOES AN EHIC DO?
An EHIC is one of the most important things to bring with you when you’re travelling within Europe. It will help you to take advantage of either free or reduced-cost public healthcare in any one of the 28 member states that are part of the scheme.
An EHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until you return home, and your care is provided as though you were a resident of that country. It also covers any pre-existing medical conditions that play up when you’re on holiday and any routine maternity care; however, you may not receive cover if your sole purpose of visiting that country was to receive treatment.
While many people don’t need to use their EHIC, it’s worth it for the peace of mind. Knowing that you would have everything covered from small cuts and grazes to serious injuries should help alleviate a lot of the stress of being overseas – especially while trying new and adventurous activities.
You can order an EHIC online. An example card is shown in the image below.
EHIC OR TRAVEL INSURANCE?
While an EHIC is important when you’re on holiday in Europe, it’s even more important to be covered by a specific travel insurance that suits your extreme holiday criteria. Some travel insurance policies won’t pay out for injuries that occur through an extreme sport accident, so you should read the small print in order to ensure that it meets your needs.
An EHIC should never replace travel insurance. The two should be used in conjunction with one another to ensure that your health needs are fully covered.
An EHIC will not cover private medical bills, and in some cases – where medical care in the country you’re visiting isn’t free for its residents – you may have to pay a substantial cost for public medical care too. On the other hand, travel insurance may cover all costs, including extras like mountain rescue at a ski resort, recompression for divers, or a return flight to the UK following a serious accident.
So, if you’re about to set off on an active holiday in Europe, first make a note of all of the possible activities you think you will end up doing, then purchase comprehensive travel insurance and pack a copy of your policy along with your EHIC among your valuables.