Don’t let your holiday cost your health

travel health

travel healthYour holiday should be a time to relax, without money worries or anxieties about your health abroad. But if the unexpected happens and you do fall ill or suffer a holiday injury, you don’t want to end up out of pocket because you haven’t taken out adequate travel insurance.

Find out how to protect your family and save money…

The average cost if you fall seriously ill abroad and need hospital treatment is £1,333, according to research by Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance, but if you plan ahead and take out the necessary cover, you won’t have to fork out such an enormous sum.

Travelling in Europe – Get a free ‘Health Insurance Card’

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) has replaced the old E111 and can be used to cover any medical treatment due to either an accident or illness within the European Economic Area. The card, which is valid for five years, entitles the holder to free state-provided medical treatment within the country they are visiting.

You can find out what your EHIC will and won’t cover by looking at the country-by-country guide in the healthcare abroad pages on the NHS Choices website.

Some insurers will refuse your cover if you failed to travel with a valid card, so it’s vital to have an up-to-date EHIC and a full travel insurance policy when travelling in Europe.

To apply for the free card, phone the NHS on 0845 606 2030 or go to

Why you still need insurance

You need to take out travel insurance as well because the EHIC won’t guarantee you completely free medical treatment and doesn’t cover the cost of private healthcare or services that are not part of the state healthcare system. Nor does it cover the cost of bringing you back to the UK.

Shop around for cheap travel insurance quotes to save money on premiums and obtain the best policy. Read the small print, checking for any exclusions, and find out what countries are classed as ‘Europe’ by your provider, as well as any excess you have to pay on the policy.

Tell your insurance company about any pre-existing medical conditions you or a family member travelling with you has (including early pregnancy).

If you don’t disclose these kinds of details to your insurer, you may be refused a payout when you need one.

Could you save with an annual policy?

If you take two or three trips a year you could save money by taking out an annual travel insurance policy, instead of several single-trip policies. Annual travel insurance is often only slightly more expensive than single-trip cover, so compare prices before buying.

Bear in mind that worldwide travel insurance is generally more expensive than European cover – if you’re not likely to go beyond Europe, only pay for what you need.

Travelling outside Europe

Make sure you take out sufficient cover if you’re planning to visit a country with no state health service, like the USA, because if you had a serious injury there the cost of treatment and any air ambulance could run to tens of thousands of pounds.