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EHIC (European Health Insurance Cards) will no longer be valid if no deal is reached for Brexit. These insurance cards could literally become invalid overnight, so travellers need to keep this in mind for upcoming holiday plans in 2020.

EHIC cards have allowed British citizens to have access to state-provided medical treatment within the EU, including Switzerland. However, Brexit could soon leave travellers facing large medical bills if they are injured or become ill while abroad. This would leave vacationers responsible for paying for any medical treatment they’ve received in the EU.

The government wants to keep EHIC as part of future trade agreements with the EU. However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, only four European countries have agreed to cover UK travellers. These countries include Spain, Belgium, and Portugal. Ireland has also agreed to allow UK citizens to access healthcare under the current agreement, even if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Sally Jaques, from GoCompare, explains, “If EHICs cease to exist, tourists will have to foot the bill for medical treatment in the countries previously covered by the scheme. If they’re not insured, they’ll have to find the money out of their own pocket – which would be a struggle for most people.

“Medical costs can quickly escalate. Last year the average insurance medical claim tipped £1,300, but bills can be much, much higher. Insurers have already warned that if EHICs are withdrawn, travel insurance premiums will rise to reflect increases in the cost of medical claims.

“The disappearance of EHICS would hit people with pre-existing health conditions hardest. EHICs cover treatment of chronic or pre-existing medical conditions and consequently, if EHIC arrangements end, people may struggle to get affordable travel insurance for European travel.”

So, if the UK leaves the EU with a deal, EHICs will be valid from January 2020 to December 2020. During this time, the EHIC will work as it does now, if the withdrawal agreement is passed by the government.

After December 2020, the EHIC may work as it does now; however, this will depend on the negotiations and deal reached between the UK and the EU.

If the UK leaves without a deal, travellers may face losing free or reduced cost access to EU healthcare if the government and the EU fail to reach a deal. In this event, insurance providers are advising travellers to take out travel insurance to make sure they’re protected in case of injury or illness when traveling abroad.

EHIC schemes will end and S1 forms will no longer be valid for UK pensioners who already live in the EU after a no-deal Brexit. Insurance providers are advising UK pensioners that they should be sure their health registration is in order before January 31, 2020.

If you find yourself in need of travel insurance, here are some things to keep in mind to find the right policy:

  • While price is important, be sure the policy meets your needs, works at your destination and will cover you for activities you plan such as skiing, scuba diving, etc.
  • Be sure to let the insurance provider know about any pre-existing conditions; while this will probably increase the cost, it’s best to be honest to avoid your coverage being invalidated later.
  • Make sure to buy travel insurance well ahead of your trip in order to take advantage of trip cancellation protection.
  • Using a comparison site can make searching for travel insurance faster and easier. You’ll also have a better chance of finding the best deal, compared to buying a policy from your holiday provider.

It’s also a good idea to stay up on the Brexit news, so you’ll be prepared when taking your next holiday. Being in the know could mean the difference between having protection in case of medical emergencies, such as an illness or injury. Without coverage, you’ll be responsible for all medicals costs out of pocket, which could have a drastic effect on your finances.

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