“Better sorry than safe” when it comes to foreign travel for British public
16th May 2016
A quarter of the British public (23%) rely on blind optimism rather than travel insurance to protect them and their families when they travel around the world, new research has revealed today.
The statistics are even more shocking for travel within Europe with over a third (34%) of people confessing to not taking out travel insurance for these journeys.
The research, carried out by the mutual Benenden also showed that the younger you are, the less likely you are to take out travel insurance; 28% of those aged 18-24 do not take out insurance at all. Three times more men than women said they would rather risk not taking out travel insurance and having an injury than paying for it (16% compared to 5%).
This may be acceptable if those on holiday rarely needed medical attention, but 10% of our respondents admitted previously needing hospital treatment abroad, with men the riskier sex – 13% of them have needed to go to hospital, compared to 7% of women.
What many members of the British public don’t seem to know is that carrying a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) alongside a travel insurance policy would help to limit medical costs when travelling in Europe if emergency treatment is needed.
However, 30% of people questioned admitted to having no idea what the EHIC is and, of the 42% of people who say they carry the card, Benenden’s research found that most of them do not know where it’s valid or what it covers.
Neil McCallum, Travel Insurance Manager at Benenden said: “The EHIC and a travel insurance policy are highly recommended for UK residents travelling in Europe.
“Carrying both insurance and an EHIC could save you thousands, with figures from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office reporting that surgery for a broken leg can cost more than £6,000; or an air ambulance £25,000”.
The Benenden survey, which asked respondents fundamental questions about the EHIC and what to do in a medical emergency in Europe in general, revealed huge gaps in the public’s knowledge:
- Half of people (49%) believed that one EHIC covered a whole family, which is not the case - each individual needs a valid card
- A third (33%) do not know that it’s free of charge and are liable to be defrauded on non-NHS websites
- Almost a quarter (22%) don’t know what the card actually covers
- The EHIC is not valid in the Channel Islands, but people were more likely to think the EHIC was valid somewhere like Jersey (80% wrongly believed the card to be valid here)
- The EHIC is valid in Switzerland (though 36% of those asked thought it wasn’t valid)
- 82% of people did not know that you need to dial 112 in an emergency in Europe
An optimistic and entitled two in five people (40%) believe that even if you don’t hold an EHIC card or travel insurance but require medical care in Europe you can get back the cost of treatment on the NHS in the UK at a later date.
Neil McCallum added: “While the EHIC will cover some of your healthcare expenses, it does not cover you for every eventuality and does not cover common occurrences like lost luggage and flight cancellations. So it is important you take out travel insurance alongside this document to cover these risks. Additionally, many people don’t know that most travel insurance companies including Benenden Travel Insurance do not charge you an excess on a travel insurance medical claim if you are using an EHIC.”
Find out more about Benenden’s travel insurance.
For further information on the EHIC, you can also consult our Benenden factsheet here.
 Members of the Public should never pay for an EHIC. The public needs to be aware of unofficial websites which may charge if you apply through them. The official website to apply is: https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/startApplication.do