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The Ultimate Guide to EHIC and GHIC Cards: What You Need to Know

Picture of Weronika Popiolek
Weronika Popiolek

Marketing & PR Coordinator

Picture of Weronika Popiolek

Weronika Popiolek

Marketing & PR Coordinator

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EHIC Card vs Travel Insurance: What's the Difference?

When planning a trip overseas, it is essential to have proper insurance coverage to protect yourself from unforeseen circumstances that may arise. Two common options that are often compared are EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) and Travel Insurance. While both provide protection for medical expenses, they differ in their coverage and benefits. In this post, we’ll explore what these differences are and help you determine which option is right for your travel needs.


EHIC cards:

EHIC Cards, or European Health Insurance Cards, provide medical coverage for those traveling within the European Union. These cards are available to all citizens of EU member states and certain other countries. The coverage offered by an EHIC card can vary based on the country you are traveling in, but generally covers any necessary medical treatment that you may require during your stay. This can include emergency treatments, medication, and hospital stays. However, it’s important to note that EHIC Cards do not cover any private medical treatments, nor do they offer coverage outside of the EU. Additionally, EHIC Cards are not an alternative to travel insurance, as they do not cover situations such as cancellation, lost luggage or stolen items.

Travel Insurance:

Travel Insurance, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive form of coverage that can provide protection for a variety of travel-related issues. This can include medical coverage, but also provides coverage for situations such as trip cancellation, lost luggage, and other common travel-related issues. This type of coverage is available for any destination, and can be customized to fit the specific needs of each traveler. While travel insurance can be more costly than an EHIC card, it offers more comprehensive coverage that can provide peace of mind while traveling.

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Having an EHIC or GHIC card provides the holder to reduced-cost and sometimes free emergency treatment. However, don’t mistake the EHIC and GHIC for travel insurance – they’re not the same thing! And remember, they can only be used in specific countries. So, if you have any medical expenses that aren’t covered by the EHIC/GHIC, having travel insurance could be a lifeline to cover those unforeseen costs.

What is not covered by an EHIC or GHIC?

The EHIC and GHIC cards are designed to help should you require emergency medical assistance when in Europe. With that being the case there are some areas where they will be unable to help, some such cases are:

  • Private hospital treatment: The EHIC and GHIC only provide cover for state-run hospitals, if you choose treatment at a private hospital you will be liable for the full cost of treatment. It is important to note in a medical emergency you may have no control over the hospital you are taken to and the closest hospital may be private.
  • Elective treatment: Cover is for emergency treatment only, so if you are heading to Europe specifically to get treatment for a medical condition then this may not be covered under the EHIC or GHIC card.
  • If you have gone overseas specifically to give birth: Much like the reason above, if you have planned a trip to receive treatment including giving birth then you won’t be covered under the EHIC or GHIC. You will, however, be able to receive routine care related to your pregnancy.
  • Non-healthcare-related issues: GHIC and EHIC cards are purely for healthcare so should you encounter any other travel related issues such as lost baggage, delays or cancellations you will not be covered.

If I have an EHIC, do I need travel insurance?

Yes, you need both. Travel insurance will cover other medical related costs that the EHIC will not, such as:

1) Cost of special assistance to get home, for example a medical escort, extra seats, stretcher or air ambulance.

2) Cancellation

3) Someone to stay with you or fly out to be with you (if medically necessary)

4) Paying for your return journey if illness delays you.

5) Covering your personal contributions towards treatment.

While GHIC and EHIC cards safeguard your health care needs abroad, they fall short on handling non-medical travel hiccups. That’s where comprehensive travel insurance becomes an indispensable travel buddy. Travel insurance not only bridges these gaps but also offers a safety net against a multitude of travel-related misfortunes. From reimbursing you for delayed flights and lost luggage to providing financial protection against trip cancellations and interruptions, a robust travel insurance plan is your all-in-one solution for peace of mind while journeying. Always scrutinize the fine print of your policy to ensure you understand the extent of coverage. Remember, prepared travelers are secure travelers, so consider coupling your GHIC or EHIC with a solid travel insurance policy to cover all bases for your next European adventure. Find your policy with us today!