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If I Have An EHIC Why Do I Need Travel Insurance?

With the summer holidays fast approaching ‘The Weary Traveller’ is full of people talking about where they are going, and what they are planning to do on their forthcoming vacation.
Some are going on a cruise, others sailing their own boats (or hiring boats to sail) and the majority simply heading off for some sun and new cultural experiences.

As someone who distrusts anything foreign I ask why would you want to leave

“This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, 
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself 
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,–
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England” ?

Why would you leave the land of Shakespeare, Keats and Dickens, when there is so much to explore and enjoy in these Islands?

Well clearly a lot of people do……. Anyway, I was having my usual pint and pondering over the crossword when I overheard the following conversation between my old mate Charlie and his other teenage son Mike.

“So you are all set for your lad’s trip to Rimini?” asked Charlie

“Yeah” said Mike, who like all teenagers doesn’t use a sentence if a word will do.

“I went to Rimini once,” said Charlie “I had a great time, but it holds some sad memories too.”

Mike didn’t say anything, but I recalled that Rimini trip as I was there with Charlie, and one day I will tell you the whole story, but for now let’s re-join their conversation.

“I hope you’ve bought travel insurance, just in case you injure yourself and end up in hospital”

“No, I don’t need it. The lads said that we’re OK if we take an EHIC because we’re travelling in Europe and that’s all we need.” Mike replied
“Really?” Charlie asked a little surprised that Mike had strung a whole sentence together!

“Yeah, my mate Del says that it gets us free medical treatment anywhere in Europe, and it’s free, so I don’t need to waste money on buying insurance as well.”
“Well, Del isn’t strictly right you know” Charlie replied, in his concerned father voice “The EHIC provides you with reciprocal healthcare within the European Union.”

“What does reciprocal mean?” asked Mike

“It means corresponding; matching; complementary; equivalent” said Charlie, clear evidence that a 70’s Grammar School education paid off, “ which means that EHIC gives you the same level of healthcare when travelling within the EU as a resident of that country would receive” .

“So, I get free treatment?” retorted Mike, who hated it when his dad ‘spouted off’.

“Yes, you will receive free treatment, but only if a local resident would. In some cases, you might have to pay for treatment, but you would pay a local rather than a tourist rate.” Charlie, who was quite happy lecturing his errant child, replied.

“Del was right then, I don’t need travel insurance” Mike was getting a little cross now.

“Actually, you do! You see whilst the EHIC is very handy, it doesn’t cover all your medical costs; as I have already pointed out it gives you the same free treatment (or reduced cost treatment) that a local would receive.” I could tell that Charlie was also getting a little het up at his son’s refusal to accept what he was saying.

Mike however surprised him by saying “OK, I get that, so give me an example when travel insurance might help me”

Charlie seized his opportunity: “OK, take Greece for example. Nursing care is not provided free of charge to Greek citizens. If you were admitted to hospital in Greece your medical treatment would be free, but you would have to pay around £60 per day if you wanted a nurse to look after you. – your travel insurance will cover that”.

“Well, £60 isn’t much, I might only be in there for a couple of days and del reckons that the policy excess would probably mean that I couldn’t claim anyway” Mike was surprising us all with his verbosity on this subject.

But Charlie wasn’t finished yet. “That’s a good point (although you can buy policies that don’t have an excess, and others waive the excess if you use the EHIC) – but what if you were seriously ill or injured and needed to be brought home? Your EHIC wouldn’t cover the cost of getting you home by air ambulance (cost around £20,000 from Greece) or, if you could not use your original flight tickets, buy replacement scheduled flights (neither would I by the way, not matter what your mother says) – but travel insurance would”

Mike was beginning to waiver; “OK – that could be expensive, but what are the chances that would happen to me?”

Charlie was wrestling the argument away from Del “Well, that’s a gamble you might want to take, but is it really worth it? A good travel insurance policy will probably cost the same as a round of drinks on holiday, why take the risk? And what about the other things travel insurance covers?”

“Like what?” asked Mike

“Well, there’s Cancellation for a start? If you couldn’t go on the trip because you were suddenly taken ill, or were injured, travel insurance will reimburse you. And then there is cover for your personal possessions, gadgets, money and passports – what would you do if they were lost or stolen?

“Hmm…the price of a round of drinks you say?” Mike was won over.

“That’s right” said a victorious Charlie “it’s a no brainer really isn’t it?”

“Yeah” said Mike, “you get the drinks and I’ll go and get my phone and buy some travel insurance”….


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