• Holidaymakers are entitled to free or reduced medical treatment in Europe with an EHIC
  • However, travel insurance will provide more comprehensive cover if things go wrong abroad
  • Know what your travel insurance policy covers and the benefits of single trip or annual insurance  

If you’re hitting the slopes and enjoying a winter sports break soon, you might want to make sure that you’ve got adequate insurance cover should the worst happen while you’re on holiday.

What is an EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card (also known as an E111 card), is free to UK residents and entitles the card holder to free or subsidised medical treatment in European Economic Area countries, as well as Switzerland. If you need treatment, holding one of these cards will give you the same benefits as the country’s residents. 

EHICs are easy to apply for and valid for five years. Visit the NHS website to learn more about the card and start an online application.

Does the EHIC cover me for everything?

No, there are a number of things that aren’t covered by an EHIC – especially on a winter sports holiday. For example, :

  • If you get stranded, the EHIC doesn’t cover the cost of a mountain rescue

  • Should you break your leg skiing and need to be repatriated, you’d have to pay for your own special travel back to the UK

  • If you need to cut your holiday short and come home early, the EHIC won’t cover any cancellation costs

By contrast, adequate travel insurance with winter sports cover would likely pay out on all of these events, as well as pay your transport costs to move you to another resort if there’s no snow where you’re staying - or reimburse you for your ski equipment if it’s lost or stolen while you’re there.

What level of travel insurance do I need?

The UK government website reminds travellers that an emergency abroad can be extremely expensive and gives the example that a simple stomach bug treated in a Californian hospital with return flights can cost up to £100,000. 

Make sure you’re properly protected on your winter break, by considering a policy which provides enough cover for emergency medical expenses, personal liability and enough cancellation cover to pay for the total cost of your holiday. 

You may also wish to include insurance for baggage, personal belongings and money too, so remember to check if the policy you’re looking at offers that level of cover.

Should I choose single trip or annual cover?

It depends on whether you’re a frequent traveller or you just have the one big holiday each year. If you’re planning on getting away several times during the year, paying the extra for annual cover might be more cost-efficient in the long run. 

Make sure that if you are choosing an annual travel insurance policy that it includes winter sports cover if you’re planning on one or more skiing or snowboarding breaks. 

First time skier? Discover Jim Walker from Snow Magazine’s essential tips for an enjoyable and safe first holiday on the slopes.