There is always something that you forget before going away, but that thing should not be health cover. Nobody plans on getting sick or injured while they are away from home, but it happens and if you are not properly covered then the cost can be very high.
Taking time to work out how you will cope should something go wrong is an essential part of preparing for any trip. Though you can expect to find a good quality of health care throughout Europe, and there are not many of the concerns that there are in other parts of the world, it is most certainly no exception.
European Health Insurance Card
For UK residents there is are some reciprocal health insurance arrangements with a number of European Union and EEC countries. The extent of what is covered varies by country, but having a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is essential.
Getting an EHIC is fairly straightforward. As long as you have a National Insurance number the process can be done online or over the telephone. Temporary NI numbers are not valid. For those without a National Insurance Number a ‘NHS Number’ can be given instead.
If you are taking your family abroad it is essential that you get an EHIC for every member. The cards are only valid for individuals.
What the EHIC covers will depend on the country. In some it will cover only emergency treatment, and in other s it will cover a lot more. Typically the card just allows treatment to be delivered at a lower cost, and of course does not cover any costs such as repatriation. As such taking out insurance is the only way to avoid large bills for sure.
Checking the small print
There is no shortage of providers for travel insurance. It is even given away as a freebie with some credit cards and bank accounts. Unfortunately the sad truth is that a lot of these insurance policies turn out to be worthless when it comes to actually making a claim.
It is vital to read through all the terms and conditions of any travel insurance policy in order to know whether you and your family will be covered. Some policies will not actually cover all medical expenses, and other may not pay out if you are injured while taking part in sports such as skiing.
Even if you have travel insurance that is fairly good for covering things such as cancelled flights and stolen luggage it can be worthwhile signing up for a dedicated medical policy. This typically covers a much wider range of potential expenses – including hospital accommodation, which is often charged separately. Other things that can be covered can include emergency dental treatment and even cancer treatments, which a general policy will often not run to.