Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)
Global Health Insurance Cards (GHIC) and European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) give you the right to access emergency state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the European Union (EU). European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) are valid until their expiry date. UK residents can apply for a GHIC when their current EHIC expires.
The GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. The GHIC covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home. Treatment should be provided on the same basis as it would to a resident of that country, either at a reduced cost or, in many cases, for free. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. It is also not valid on cruises. It is therefore important to have both a GHIC and a valid private travel insurance policy in place before you travel. Some insurers now insist you hold a GHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.
For most people, GHICs are not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland (outside the EU); however, you can use a UK passport to get medically necessary treatment in Norway. A GHIC is free of charge. Be aware of unofficial sites that may charge if you apply through them. Click here for further information about the GHIC and who can apply.
COVID-19 and Travel Insurance
Some insurance companies include enhanced cover relating to COVID-19 on specific policies. Cover may include cancellation if you or anyone insured on your policy test positive for COVID-19 before you travel, emergency medical treatment in case you contract COVID-19 whilst abroad, or cancellation cover if you are denied boarding due to a positive COVID-19 test. You should carefully check the policy wording with regard to COVID-19 when considering travel insurance.
Insurance companies will not provide cover if you are travelling against Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
When considering taking out travel insurance remember to consider the following:
- Include reimbursement/cancellation costs should you need to cancel your trip due to ill health.
- Potential medical expenses (including GP, drugs and hospital) should you require treatment whilst abroad, including repatriation (being flown home in an emergency). Many airlines will not repatriate patients taken ill whilst on holiday on normal scheduled flights. It is quite likely you will be repatriated on a medical flight, including accompanying doctors, nurses and equipment needed to get you home.
- Your carer & any travel companions should also be covered in case they need to return with you if you are taken ill either before or during your trip.
- Ask the cost for an annual policy and compare to that the cost for a single trip as they might be similar.
Helpful Online Resources:
MoneySupermarket has a really useful online tool to compare prices and policies for those with pre-existing medical conditions. It also has some useful information regarding travel insurance for those with a diagnosis of cancer.
Cancer Research UK has a helpful resource on travel insurance and options for people who have or have had cancer. The page includes information such as why it is important to have insurance and what you need to tell insurance companies.
Please help other patients:
Please keep us updated with useful information that will help other cancer patients trying to get reasonable travel insurance. You can email us with your tips so we can regularly add to this resource.
You should check the latest government advice before you travel. Further government travel advice during the COVID-19 pandemic is available here.
Thanks to all the KCSN members for their input, and especially Julia for her patience and willingness to collate this information to help and support others.