Health matters

Whether you are on holiday or travelling on business, overseas trips are meant to be enjoyed, not endured. Illness or injury can spoil any trip – so it is a good idea to be prepared for such an eventuality.

  • The first precaution is to have adequate and appropriate travel insurance to cover not just medical expenses, but also the costs of getting you home following or to receive medical treatment
  • At least six weeks before you travel, ask your GP what vaccinations are needed (if any) for visiting your chosen destination(s)
  • If you take regular medication, check if it is legal in the country you are proposing to visit
  • If you are taking prescribed medication, take the prescription and a doctor’s letter with you
  • Make sure you pack all your medication in your hand luggage
  • Check with the NHS on their general medical advice for travellers
  • If you have Saga Travel Insurance, our 24 hour helpline Saga Travel Assistance can provide advice such as guidance for you and your relatives, friends or employers if you are unfortunate enough to go into hospital.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are travelling in the EU, you are entitled to reduced cost or free emergency care in any of the member countries. Each individual travelling can apply for a card by completing the EHIC application form.

The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you’ll be treated on the same basis as an ‘insured’ person living in the country you are visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you’d expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.

The EHIC also covers any treatment you need for chronic disease or pre-existing illness. You need to make arrangements in advance for kidney dialysis and oxygen therapy. To arrange for kidney dialysis while you are away, contact your NHS renal unit in the UK before you travel.

Even if you are travelling in Europe with an EHIC you are advised to take out separate comprehensive travel insurance rather than rely on the EHIC because:

  • It does not cover all medical conditions.
  • It does not provide for repatriation to the UK.
  • Travel insurance also provides cover for baggage, cancellation and many other eventualities.

Don't Pay for an EHIC

An EHIC is completely free, valid for five years and all UK residents apart from those living in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man are eligible which means that if you're being charged for an EHIC, you're being ripped off.

Despite the Office of Fair Trading intervention a couple of years ago, there are still internet sites that look quite convincingly official so be sure you use the correct EHIC website and be very suspicious if any fees are requested.

While the EHIC offers valuable protection, it isn't a substitute for travel insurance. Saga Travel Insurance gives greater and wider protection for medical treatment, but also covers you for delays, repatriation, cancellations, lost baggage and theft.

Saga’s range of insurance products is designed specifically for our customers and is unique to us. Saga Travel Insurance is underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK Branch, which meets our high standards of quality and service.

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