Great Britain

How will Brexit affect European Health Insurance Cards and can I still use my EHIC?

A NEW £93million publicity campaign is being launched by the government as the UK prepares for Brexit, with the country leaving the EU Customs Union and Single Market on December 31.

Here's everything you need to know about upcoming changes to your health insurance and care while travelling in post-Brexit Europe.

What is the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

The EHIC covers you in most European countries, just like the NHS does at home. It lets doctors know not to bill you or your insurer for anything that qualifies under the scheme.

It will cover state-provided healthcare that is deemed “medically necessary until the cardholder returns home”, which also includes treatments for pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care.

It doesn't replace travel insurance, however, which covers for other situations including certain medical care.

Also, the EHIC only covers health treatments, so won't protect you against cancellation, lost luggage or missed connections.

The EHIC won’t cover medical costs from private healthcare providers and it also isn’t valid on cruises.

It also won’t cover you for any coronavirus-related claims pre-departure such as if you need to cancel your trip.

Will it still be valid after Brexit?

No, the card will no longer be valid from December 31 when travelling to an EU country.

However, while Britain negotiates the transition the UK will remain an EU member and no changes will be implemented.

This means that any holidays to Europe this year will still see EHICs as valid cards.

Brits have been warned to check that they are still valid during the pandemic - 5.7 million cards are due to expire this year.

How do I get one if I'm travelling to Europe?

You can apply for a free card at www.ehic.org.uk.

Don't get conned by middlemen as some websites will charge for the cards.

Will it affect my travel insurance?

Travel insurance is likely to rise in cost as European Health Insurance Cards become invalid, while Brits will be required to have six months validity on their passports.

It is wise to review your travel insurance terms and check with the Foreign Office to be sure that your policy covers you properly as the year goes on.

Brexit Disruption Cover extensions are being offered by some companies and other insurers offer “travel disruption cover” add-ons.

Brits have also been urged to check their passports as many are likely to have expired during the pandemic.

Martin Lewis warns that renewing them could take longer than usual as well.

“The Passport Office is warning, understandably, that renewing is taking longer than the usual three weeks,” he warned.

“We're hearing reports that at the extreme, some are taking three months or more, while fast-track services and face-to-face appointments are suspended.”

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