The new card will not be valid in four places that were previously covered by the EHIC

The government has revealed its plans to replace the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

This will apply to all insurance customers travelling within the European Union, however the new GHIC will not be valid in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which were previously covered under the EHIC.

If customers have a valid EHIC, they do not need a GHIC until it expires, applications can be made via the NHS website. 

A spokesperson for the ABI told Insurance Times: “While any successor arrangements to the EHIC will be welcome, they will not be an alternative to having travel insurance.

”Whether travelling to the European Union (EU) or beyond, having travel insurance remains essential to give full cover against any emergency medical treatment costs, including any emergency return to the UK for medical reasons.”

It follows the government announcing a Brexit trade deal on Christmas Eve last year.

Not a replacement for travel insurance

In a statement, Biba said: “Like an EHIC, a GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance.

”Biba continues to recommend that anyone travel to the EU post Brexit makes sure they have comprehensive travel insurance that will cover the cost of medical treatment if they fall ill or have an accident while abroad.

“Neither EHICs nor GHICs will allow for all medical treatments to be given free of charge and will not provide for emergency medical repatriation to the UK, which can run to many thousands of pounds.

“Travel insurance is complicated, and the cover provided is extensive including much more than cancellation; policies will cover, emergency medical and dental treatment, medical repatriation, compensation for any missed portion of a trip and the costs travelling home. We continue to point people towards our members to get the vital cover they need.”

An EHIC or GHIC covers state healthcare only, it includes emergency or necessary medical care for the same cost as a resident in that country, meaning it is at a reduced cost or for free.

Customers will have to pay in full for treatment if they do not have an EHIC, GHIC or provisional replacement certificate (PRC).

However, it does not cover things such as medical repatriation or mountain rescue.

The following European countries do not accept the EHIC or GHIC:

  • Channel Islands, including Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
  • Isle of Man
  • Monaco
  • San Marino
  • Vatican

The free EHIC was originally introduced in 2004 to show entitlement to medical care on the same basis as local people. It is available to EU citizens including those living in the UK.