Injuries abroad: Don’t rely on your European Health Insurance Card

There have been plenty of headlines about tragedies abroad and the awful story of Carrie-Anne Freeland is one such example. The new bride slipped and fell from a hotel balcony while on her honeymoon in Corfu.  The couple had been given the holiday by friends as a surprise wedding gift.european health insurance card

The newly married couple were unable to pay the costs required to fly her back home, so she was left stranded in a Corfu hospital with her spine broken in three places.

The couple had assumed that their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) would cover all expenses in the event of illness or injury. Without additional insurance, they were unable to meet the £16,000 bill to fly Carrie-Anne home.

Luckily, friends of the couple along with generous members of the public have managed to raise the money to bring Carrie-Anne home. In less than 24 hours after their plight was reported in national newspapers, more than 400 strangers came forward to donate money. Over £18,000 has now been raised.


This unfortunately echoes another recent tragedy in which a teenage holidaymaker plunged from a balcony leaving his parents with a £15,000 bill to fly him back to the UK. He had not taken out any travel insurance.

Many travellers wrongly assume that the European Health Insurance Card (sometimes referred to as the E111) is sufficient medical cover when travelling abroad. This is not the case. Although the card is designed to give travellers within the EU the same level of care as local residents – it does not cover any other costs. It would therefore not cover repatriation fees.

Although it’s wise to travel with an EHIC, to be fully covered you’ll need adequate travel insurance with a sufficient level of medical cover.

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