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David Neal

57% of UK tourists misunderstand the benefits of the EHIC

New research has revealed that having medical travel insurance when going abroad is more important than ever.

New research has shown that having medical travel insurance when going abroad is more important than ever, especially bearing in mind how confused British holidaymakers are about the benefits of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

According to new research from a leading comparison site, British travellers overestimate the benefits of the EHIC, believing it covers much more than it really does.

The fact is that holding a EHIC entitles the person to have the same level of state medical care provided to eligible nationals of the country they're in. If you are visiting countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) countries including Switzerland, then you will enjoy medical treatment for free or at a reduced price –always depending on the particular country.

Only 18% of Brits, less than two in ten, said they are aware of which countries offer free emergency medical care to EHIC holders. Right now, the EEA includes all 27 members of the European Union plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, but not Turkey.

In addition, more than a half of UK holidaymakers (57%) believe this card might cover them if they need free emergency medical care anywhere in Europe. Yet the truth is that, in case of suffering an emergency abroad and being taken to a private hospital (not state), you might have to pay the expenses of your medical costs.

A further ignorant 14% of Brits have never heard of the EHIC at all, while a naive 4% of them do actually think that this card entitles them to have free medical care anywhere in the world.

Another common misunderstanding is that the EHIC would cover the cost of medical repatriation. The reality is that the card doesn't protect you in those cases and neither pays for British holidaymakers to be flown home is case of having an accidents overseas.

Bear in mind, however, that residents of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are not eligible for an EHIC

Medical travel insurance

These misunderstandings are leading 9% of UK travellers to avoid buying travel insurance. The fact is that if holidaymakers want to enjoy real protection abroad they should always contract medical travel insurance to be fully covered.