Don't travel without insurance

AA survey reveals EHIC shortfalls as fifth of Brits don’t take travel insurance

As the cold snap continues into the start of summer, there has been a surge in travel insurance sales as windswept Brits seek sunnier climes.

But despite this spike, up to 19% of British travellers won't take out travel insurance, exposing themselves to significant costs if taken ill or injured, an AA survey suggests.*

EHIC cover not suitable

Reasons for not taking out travel insurance range from forgetfulness to reliance on the free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

30% of those with no travel insurance said they'd use the EHIC instead, something Simon Douglas, director of AA Travel Insurance warns against.

"Every traveller should take an EHIC with them but it cannot be relied upon to cover every health eventuality.

"It is evidence of entitlement to reciprocal health care in EU countries and Switzerland. In some countries, a charge may be made and the EHIC certainly wouldn't fund repatriation, for instance, after suffering a major illness."

EHIC won’t cover you for lost or damaged property or delayed or cancelled flights.

Simon Douglas, AA Travel Insurance

Mr Douglas explains that while travel insurance can fill the gaps left by the EHIC, a full medical history must be disclosed to the insurer when taking out the policy. If not, any undeclared conditions exposed in medical enquiries can lead to claims being refused.

Spain as an example

To see just how expensive medical costs can be, here are some examples of treatment costs in Spain:

  • Heart attack: With four days in intensive care plus up to five days in a ward: £10,000–£12,000. Additional doctor escort home: £5,000–£6,000
  • Gastroenteritis: In-patient £3,000. Out-patient £300–£500
  • Fractured toe (no surgery needed): £300–£400
  • Fractured hip (with stretcher repatriation to the UK): £20,000–£25,000
  • Ear infection: £150 (plus potential flight costs home if the patient is not fit to fly on scheduled return date)
  • Allergic reaction to insect/animal bite: In-patient: £3,000.
    Out-patient: £200

Holidaymakers seeking treatment in Spain found that their EHIC was not being accepted by state hospitals – contravening European regulations. Also, unwitting travellers may have been conned by travel couriers, taxi drivers and even hotel staff into going to private hospitals and paying for treatment.

If you need medical assistance in Spain, please ensure you take your EHIC and all travel insurance details to a state hospital.

Take AA Travel Insurance

For competitive rates on travel insurance, plus specialist policies for wedding, skiing and golfing holidays, get a quote for AA Travel Insurance to give you peace of mind for your holiday.

(4 April 2013)

* AA/Populus questioned 20,659 AA members in January 2012