Don’t have a hiccup with GHIC

3 min read
June 07, 2021

It’s incredibly hard to anticipate sudden changes in a country’s tourism policy both here and abroad. Add to that the potential expense of landing in a green country that goes amber or red and there’s a whole traffic jam of confusing rules and charges, as this week alone has shown for many in Portugal.

If you are going to book a holiday abroad, make sure you have some cash to one side, or keep a chunk of credit on your credit card available in preparation for the worst case scenarios. You may not need to dip into it but it will buy you some peace of mind.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a comprehensive insurance policy, because from lost handbags to falling off the sea wall, lots of other things can go wrong on holiday. And why not ensure you’ve got some free perks too?

Travel, health problems and the EHIC card

Lurking in your wallet or purse may be an old European Health Insurance Card EHIC or E111 card. These cards allowed UK travellers to get limited cover for health issues when visiting countries in the EU (and a few other countries including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein).

Much as the EHIC card was a useful – and free – thing and well worth having when travelling abroad, it was never intended to be a substitute for travel insurance. The things the card covered you for varied from country to country and generally allowed some state healthcare for free or at reduced costs. Many a holidaymaker came a cropper after wandering into a private hospital unawares, only to be hit with a bill. 

Now that we’ve left the EU, the EHIC card will eventually cease to exist. If you still have one, check its expiry date as it is still valid until then. The good news is there will be a free replacement, the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and it’s available to apply for through the NHS website.

Getting a GHIC 

The new rules are a little complicated, so it’s simpler to say don’t assume your old EHIC or new GHIC will cover you in every country. Check the government website before travelling to see what you are or are not covered for.

If you’re thinking you can put in a sneaky application and get an extended EHIC expiry, I’m afraid the system will figure this out and make you apply for a replacement card. You need your National Insurance number to apply so you can’t use different registration details either.

 A word of warning. MoneySavingExpert has highlighted a number of fake websites out there that look official but are charging to help you with the application process. This is sadly legal, but immoral, so only go through the official Government website, where the card and process is free.

Travel insurance is still important

Even if the GHIC card covers you for certain incidents in the country you are going to (and don’t be fooled by the ‘global’ – much is yet to be sorted), you need to have a comprehensive travel insurance policy. 

You can still get travel insurance policies and many of them will cover you for Covid-related problems or issues, but this will differ from policy to policy – our travel insurance checklist will help you to work out what to look for.

Travel insurance documents are long and complicated, but it’s really important you read them so you know exactly what you’re covered for and what excess limits you have and what the claim requirements are. Don’t forget to take the documents with you if you travel – and keep the emergency claim number and your policy number on your phone or email so you can locate it quickly if you need it.

If you have had issues getting cover for your travels, or claiming on your insurance, Resolver can help sort your issues for free – raise a complaint.

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