What is an EHIC, can I get a European Health Insurance Card after Brexit, and do I still need travel insurance?
Here, Sun Online explain why they are important, where you can get one, and whether they are still valid in the event of a no deal Brexit.
What is an EHIC?
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives Brits free or discounted medical treatment at state-run hospitals and GPs in any EU country, as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Card holders are entitled to the same treatment (at the same cost) that local citizens are entitled to – so if they pay, you'll have to pay; and if they get healthcare for free, so will you.
According to MoneySavingExpert.com, more than half of people in the UK don't have an EHIC, and last year almost three million expired.
Does Brexit mean the EHIC will be scrapped?
The government has warned that the card may not be valid in the event of a no deal on March 29.
Depending on the country, the healthcare offered to Brits may differ – the NHS has offered detailed advice for each EU country.
Brits should still buy travel insurance if they are travelling after March to ensure they are fully protected in case of emergencies.
Recent research from Admiral travel insurance has revealed how medical costs could increase by up to 900 per cent if EHIC is no longer valid in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
Simple stitches could cost up to £500 in Spain, while a heart attack could result in costs up to £32,000 – and Brits could be caught out if they don't have adequate travel insurance in place.
How can you renew your EHIC card?
You can apply for a new card six months before your existing one runs out.
Renewal applications can be made online via the EHIC website.
It’s free to apply for but some unofficial websites charge a fee for processing your application.
Be careful when looking up the EHIC on Google as many of these websites pay the search engine to appear at the top, meaning some people end up paying for the free service.
Some travel insurers will waive excess fees on your policy if you have an EHIC, and some will require you to have it on you to make sure you are fully insured.
Don't fall for dodgy EHIC websites
Watch out for unofficial websites that try and catch people out by charging £20 or more to process an EHIC application.
Applying for an EHIC is completely free, as is the card, so the entire process shouldn't cost you a penny.
The websites might look official, but you should only apply using the official government website www.ehic.org.uk – and you can also find out more information on the NHS EHIC page.
Is an EHIC card free? Where can I get one?
EHICs are completely free and you can apply for one free-of-charge on the official government EHIC website.
They are valid for up to five years, and all UK residents are eligible – although residents of the Channel Islands and Isle of Man aren't.
Can I use an EHIC rather than buy travel insurance?
The EHIC shouldn't be used as an alternative to travel insurance, as it doesn't 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.
Travel insurance has a much wider level of cover than the EHIC, for example, EHIC doesn't always mean free treatment, while travel insurance usually does.
It's important to have both an EHIC and travel insurance in place before you travel, as some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess if you have one.
Brits rushing to renew their passport this week ahead of Brexit resulted in the government website crashing thanks to a surge in applications.
The service was not available online for a few hours, leaving people exasperated.
The rush came after Which? warned Brits with less than 15 months left on their passport to renew them now ahead of March 29.
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