Free Spirit

For travellers of any age with medical conditions.

Travel Plus

Travel Insurance that gives you more.

Adventures

For hazardous activities while overseas.

Longstay & Backpacker

For all types of extended trips.

Top Up My Cancellation Cover

Up to £50,000 additional cancellation cover.

High Value Cancellation Cover

Cover for ultra high net worth travel.

Coach Plus

Especially for Coach Trips in the Uk & Europe.

Euro Plus

European motor breakdown cover.

Mission, Vision & Values

Giving travellers the freedom to travel, with confidence.

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Over thirty years providing specialist travel insurance solutions.

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Specialist Travel Insurance for Veterans

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GHIC Card

Are you and your clients aware of the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)? Travelling to and from the EU has changed post-Brexit. However, travelling with a Global Health Insurance Card and suitable travel insurance can provide travellers with peace of mind.

Prior to leaving the EU, UK citizens had the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This has now been replaced by the Global Health Insurance Card.

What is the difference between a European Health Insurance Card and a Global Health Insurance Card?

Although GHIC cards have been available since the UK left the European Union, no healthcare arrangement existed for anyone from the UK to Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland. This was true if the traveller held either a current EHIC, or GHIC. Fast forward to January 1st, 2024 and this all changed.

The UK Government now has Reciprocal Healthcare Arrangements with European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States. These states are Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

However, the UK can still negotiate with more countries to create reciprocal healthcare agreements. The UK Government website provides an up-to-date list which includes The Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Are EHIC cards still valid?

Yes, they can be used before the expiry date. A EHIC Card lasts for five years and over 4 million are due to expire in 2024. So travellers who currently have one need to take note. This will be among the last to be issued before the transition from the EHIC to the GHIC.

Once an EHIC expires, it will need to be replaced with the Global Health Insurance  Card.

The Global Health Insurance Card continues to be free for UK residents and UK Nationals who enjoy travelling outside the UK within most of Europe and some other countries.

Where does the name come from?

The card’s name (Global Health Insurance Card) was chosen likely because it can expand to include other countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) post-Brexit.

Where can the Global Health Insurance Card be used today?

  • Countries in the European Economic Area
  • Montenegro
  • Australia (where you can claim Medicare)
  • Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man
  • St Helena, Tristan and Ascension
  • In European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States – Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Do travellers need a GHIC card?

The GHIC is not mandatory for travel or UK student travel. However, some travel insurance policies may state that travellers should have one if they’re living in the UK.

While an EHIC or GHIC has never been a necessity it does provide a degree of certainty, security, and peace of mind when travelling.  Additional protection is provided when traveling if needed. This includes discounted medical care in state-run hospitals.

What’s more, a GHIC remains free (including delivery), and involves a simple application process. After applying each traveller receives a quick decision and the card can pop through the letterbox within two weeks.

What does a Global Health Insurance Card provide?

A GHIC card provides the following cover in participating countries:

  • emergency treatment, including visits to accident and emergency departments
  • treatment for long-term and pre-existing medical conditions.
  • routine medical treatment for pre-existing conditions that need monitoring.
  • routine maternity care, as long as there is no intention to give birth while abroad.
  • oxygen and kidney dialysis, although this type of treatment may need to be arranged with the healthcare provider before travel.

In short, the GHIC covers state-provided healthcare when a traveller cannot reasonably wait until they are back in the UK to receive it. However, the healthcare provided is usually at a reduced cost – not for free.

That mention of state-provided is significant to note and applies to existing EHIC cards. Private healthcare is not included so it is a good idea to review which healthcare providers can be used in the vicinity before leaving home.

On the other hand, if there are only private healthcare facilities nearby, a suitable travel insurance policy will be invaluable.

What won’t a GHIC or EHIC cover?

  • Treatment that is not provided in a state hospital. Be aware of this if using a private healthcare setting.
  • If someone is travelling with the intention of getting medical treatment neither of these cards will be applicable.
  • A GHIC/EHIC is a medical policy. Cancellation, delay, repatriation, baggage loss and theft will not be covered by a GHIC/EHIC.

How to apply for a Global Health Insurance Card

Applications for GHICs need to be made on the official NHS website. Some unofficial ones ask for payment. These are scam sites and should be ignored. The GHIC is always free to UK residents.

Navigate to the NHS website to apply for a GHIC card but allow plenty of time for it to arrive prior to departure.

Remember, an EHIC can be used any time up to its expiry date. An EHIC card only needs to be replaced with a GHIC when it expires.

Who can apply for a GHIC?

EHIC and GHIC cards are available to all UK residents. Each member of the travelling party will need their own as they are issued per individual. Also, parents and guardians have to make applications on behalf of under 16s.

How long does it take to get an EHIC card or GHIC Card?

It will take between 10 – 15 days to obtain a Global Health Insurance Card (if applied for today). However, it’s always wise to apply well in advance of the departure date.

Leave home without an in-date GHIC/EHIC for any reason and require treatment? Apply for a ‘provisional replacement certificate’ (PRC) for temporary cover.

Do you need travel insurance when you have a Global Health Insurance Card?

Travel insurance is still strongly recommended by the government. While the UK EHIC/GHIC will provide healthcare in many scenarios, adequate travel insurance ensures full cover.

For example, the GHIC/EHIC will not cover private healthcare provision. So, if a traveller is taken to a private facility (where a public facility is not viable or available), they would need to foot the bill. In some areas of Europe, especially remote or mountain-based locations (particularly relevant for winter sports enthusiasts), only private facilities may be available.

A travel insurance policy will also not cover treatment at a private facility where a medically capable public facility exists. So, the traveller would need to contact the emergency assistance team on their travel insurance policy before receiving treatment to make sure they’re being treated at the most suitable facility.

What was the link again? Applications can be made on the NHS website.

Travel with confidence with a Global Health Insurance Card

Remind clients to check the expiry date on their EHIC/GHIC before booking a break. Also, ensure their passport has at least 6 months validity left – on the day they plan to return from a trip. Making sure of both of the above points will ensure your clients have the freedom to travel, with confidence.

 

Written by Suzanne Oke

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