Is your EHIC in date?

If you are planning to take a trip overseas in Europe, have you checked that your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is still valid? The Department of Health estimates that 28 million Britons currently have an EHIC and at least 3 million EHICs will expire before March 2009, meaning travellers are putting themselves at risk when going on holiday this summer.* As useful as the EHIC is, it does not cover you for every eventuality, so you should always take out travel insurance when heading abroad. Read on to find out more!

*source – Department of Health

E111 formThree years ago, the EHIC replaced the E111 form. It entitles the cardholder to reduced cost or free healthcare in most European Union countries including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland if they fall ill or have an accident whilst abroad – but only if it is in date! A staggering 50% of Brits are not aware that the EHIC has a shelf life.*

*source – Travel Trust Association

When should you renew your EHIC?
Your EHIC expiry date can be found printed on the front of your card. It is very easy to renew online or over the phone and can be done up to six months in advance of expiry. You will need your EHIC Personal Identification Number (PIN) when renewing (this number is shown on your existing card beside your date of birth and begins with the letters ‘UK’).

If you change your name due to marriage or divorce, or if you lose or have your EHIC stolen within the UK, then you will need to apply for a replacement EHIC. If your EHIC is lost or stolen abroad then you will need to apply for a replacement when you return home. If you require healthcare whilst you are abroad and have lost or had your EHIC stolen, then you will need to contact the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK and obtain a EHIC Provisional Replacement Certificate – which will provide you with the same cover as the EHIC until you return home. Failure to get the EHIC Provisional Replacement Certificate may result in you having to fork out for medical treatment yourself.

How to apply/renew your EHICTo apply for an EHIC you will need to provide your name, date of birth and NHS or National Insurance number. In Scotland the NHS number is known as the Community Health Index or CHI number and in Northern Ireland it is known as the Health and Care number.

You are also able to apply for an EHIC for your partner and any children up to the age of 16 (or 19 if they are in full-time education). You must be over 16 to apply as a main applicant.

Applying for the card is free and it’s valid for up to five years. All British travellers can renew or obtain an EHIC by:

  • going online, at the following address www.dh.gov.uk/travellers (delivery within 7 days)
  • telephone, on 0845 606 2030 (delivery within 10 days)
  • post (delivery within 21 days)

For more information regarding your EHIC, visit: https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/frequentlyAsked.do

Travel insurance
Remember the EHIC is NOT a substitute for travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. You should take out adequate travel insurance for visits to all countries, regardless of whether you are covered by your EHIC.

Buying direct from the travel insurance provider is certainly cheaper than from your travel agent, so check out 24/7 travel insurance. If you are travelling as a couple, 24/7 travel insurance offers cover for 3 days from just £8.77* – great value for peace of mind whilst travelling abroad.

* Premium £8.77 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on 2 adults aged under 55 taking out a “Standard” Single Trip policy for 3 days in Europe, excluding personal possessions cover and travelling within 14 days of purchase. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (February 2009) and are subject to change.