Moments of Inspiration

Well Assured and Well Insured: The Secret to Stress-Free Travel Insurance

Well Assured and Well Insured: The Secret to Stress-Free Travel Insurance

Translated & edited by
Sarah O'Neill
September 2017

Original by Martina Diehn


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No one is guaranteed a hassle-free holiday – but we can all take action to give ourselves peace of mind. Here is our advice on essential health and travel insurance to avoid expensive medical bills and unexpected costs on your holiday.

Happy travellers are healthy people: there is no doubt that holidays are beneficial for mind and body alike. Yet even on the most paradisiacal of island destinations (like our beloved Crete!) you may only be a slip, trip or a stumble away from an unwelcome visit to the doctor.

No one is guaranteed a hassle-free holiday – but we can all take action to give ourselves peace of mind. Allow us to share our advice on essential health and travel insurance to avoid expensive medical bills and unexpected costs on your holiday.

We sincerely hope you will never have to make a claim – but we are certain you’ll be glad of your insurance if the need arises.

EHIC: Your European Health Insurance Card
EHIC is NOT an alternative to travel insurance – and here’s why...

“That’s my health insurance in the bag,” you say, as you open the letter with that shiny, blue and white EHIC card.

Not quite.

The European Health Insurance Card is free of charge to all EU citizens as part of your NHS or national health insurance, and entitles you to reduced-cost, sometimes free, medical treatment in the 28 EU member states, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

However: the NHS warns you on their website, and so do we, that the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. And here’s why:

You may be used to free health care, especially if you are a UK citizen on the NHS. Not all countries operate a free national health service, and your EHIC will not cover you abroad the way you would be covered back home. In fact, it entitles you to the same state-provided medical treatment as citizens of the country you are visiting – and those services can be very different.

For example, some EU countries do not offer state-provided dental services, which means that even with an EHIC you would have to pay the dentist. Many countries expect patients to contribute a percentage towards the cost of their treatment. This is known as patient co-payment, and if you receive treatment in a country with this system, you are expected to pay the co-payment charge, even with an EHIC.

The EHIC will cover treatment for any pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, but it will not cover you if you have travelled to another country specifically to give birth or seek treatment. Nor will it cover any private medical healthcare, repatriation, or services such as mountain rescue. And it is not valid on cruises.

Some countries have a dual health system with both state-run and private services, and only doctors working for the state will accept your EHIC. The Corissia Hotels and Resort are on the island of Crete, in Greece, and the Greek state is one such country that runs a dual health system.

European Health Insurance Card in Greece

In Greece, holidaymakers who want state healthcare should try to consult an IKA-ETAM doctor or dentist, where you can receive treatment for free or at a reduced cost. Be sure to present your EHIC when you arrive for treatment. You must then ask for a ‘ticket’, which is your proof of entitlement to healthcare at the same cost as Greek nationals.

However, the debt crisis has contributed to growing pressure on the state-run health system in Greece, with hospitals being forced to balance long waiting lists, scale back treatments and limit non-urgent operations. For all but emergencies, you may find private healthcare a timelier and hassle-free option.

Your EHIC will only cover a limited number of private services. Here, too, you should present your EHIC card up front, pay first, and keep your receipts for possible reimbursements later. Many state-run IKA-ETAM doctors find themselves forced to refer non-Greek nationals to the private health services, because of shortages in the state-run system. In Greece, as in many other EU countries, it makes sense to take your healthcare into your own hands, and back up your EHIC with separate travel insurance.

If you are a UK resident, you can apply for your EHIC online on the NHS website, which also gives you country by country information on your healthcare entitlements. Irish citizens can apply online to the Health Service Executive. You can also download the EHIC smartphone app which explains the treatments, costs, procedures for reimbursement and emergency numbers in each EU country.

Overseas Medical Insurance
Peace of Mind from Hidden Costs

Travel and medical insurance policies are available to cover every possible circumstance. Perhaps you only need single trip cover for your upcoming ski trip, or you’ve decided on annual multi-trip cover that entitles you to worldwide healthcare, because you’re chasing the sun throughout the year.

In the USA, the type of insurance you require is called Overseas Medical Insurance. In the UK, you are simply looking for Travel Insurance. Taking out travel insurance is a small price to pay for peace of mind: in 2010, the average cost for treating an insect bite abroad was £200. Ear infections cost most travellers around £275, and the average bill for holidaymakers needing inpatient treatment abroad was around £1,200 [source: The Guardian]. Bottom line: if you go abroad, you need travel insurance.

Choose any online insurance comparison site, and you will be amazed at the offers you can find. A quick search on comparethemarket.com reveals that my husband and I can take out travel insurance for our visit to Crete next year from just £7.89 for both of us! My fictional search for a retired couple with a previous medical history reveals that they can enjoy 2 weeks on Crete for less than £20! For so little money and so much peace of mind, travel insurance really is the sensible choice.

Be sure to answer the questions posed by your insurance company as fully and honestly as possible. Failure to give accurate information may void your insurance. Make sure your give the correct travel dates and are candid about your medical history. It will only have a minimal effect on your insurance premium – but it could make a huge impact on your wallet if you void your insurance because you failed to mention something!

If you do have any pre-conditions to declare, these are covered by most insurers, but there are also specialist insurance comparison sites, such as medicaltravelcompared.co.uk, specifically for people with medical conditions, which help to facilitate your search.

If you currently have private health insurance be aware that your insurer may have an international healthcare plan that covers you. Credit card companies may also offer travel insurance to existing clients for trips paid for with that card. Make sure you know what benefits you can already reap from your existing policies.

Single Policy or Multi-Trip?
Choosing the Best Travel Insurance Deal

With so many of us jet-setting to see the big wide world these days, there are more insurance options than ever, including multi-trip insurance which is taken out as an annual policy for those planning several holidays in the year. Frequent holidaymakers can make big savings by taking out a single annual policy, rather than purchasing multiple single-trip policies, but is it worth it for you?

If you are planning to take two holidays or less abroad this year, then a single trip policy is usually the less expensive option for you. Multi-trip policies only really start to pay off from the third trip onwards.

How long do you plan to travel? Most multi-trip policies will place an upper limit on the duration of each trip (typically 31-45 days). Make sure you read the conditions of the policy carefully.

Where do you plan to travel? Multi-trip policies are typically divided into Europe, Worldwide (excluding the USA and Canada) or Worldwide + USA and Canada, the latter being by far the most expensive. If you are only planning one trip to the USA this year, it may be cheaper to take out a single policy for that trip, rather than insuring yourself for the entire year in the highest price category.

Special Considerations: Factors such as your age, medical history and planned activities can all affect the price of your policy. Here, you may find that single trip policies are more flexible, offering more specific cover pertinent to you, especially if you have one trip in particular with an unusual activity that needs extra cover, such as a ski holiday or sky diving adventure!

Am I Fully Covered? The Features of a Good Insurance Policy
From Dental Work to Deep Sea Diving

A good policy must cover medical expenses, including dental treatment, surgical treatment, repatriation (bringing you home), and personal liability. Good travel insurance will also cover losses incurred by late or missed departures, cancellations, and damage or loss of your baggage.

Read through your policy carefully. Here are some key points to look for:

Excess: how much money do you personally have to contribute if you make a claim? Make sure this is reasonable!

Cover: how much will the insurance company pay out? Figures for medical insurance and personal liability should be in the six figures on a good policy. Dental cover will typically be around £250 for treatment providing pain relief. Expect your insurance to pay out figures in the thousands for cancellations and baggage.

Trip Duration: ensure you fulfil all the criteria laid out by the policy. Make sure that your travel dates are accurate and that you don’t exceed the trip duration allowed by your policy. If your policy covers you for travel to and from the UK, make sure your departure dates reflect the dates you depart from and arrive back in the UK, even if you are flying from elsewhere, like Dublin!

Receipts and Claims: some policies require you to pay first, and provide receipts to claim back your costs. A good policy will cover costs up front, but may not do so in all circumstances. Always keep your receipts, just in case!

Medical History: ensure that you are covered for any pre-existing conditions, including pregnancy.

Sports and Activities: some adventure activities have to be insured separately. Make sure you are covered for all the activities you are planning to do, from cycling and hiking to deep sea diving!

When Worst Comes to Worst: What to do if you fall ill on holiday
How to Claim Back on your Travel Insurance

Accidents happen. At least you’ve thought ahead and taken out comprehensive travel insurance. If worst comes to worst, and you fall ill on holiday, here’s how to react.

If possible, ring the emergency number provided by your insurer before you seek medical help. Save the emergency number in your phone, or carry it with you in your wallet or passport (where you should also be carrying your EHIC card)!

Inform your tour operator or hotel management. They can help organise transport to the nearest GP or hospital, may be able to provide interpretation services, and will be able to plan how to best accommodate your needs if you are returning to the hotel.

Assume that you might be asked to pay upfront. Provide your insurance details and EHIC as soon as you walk through the door; ask for, and keep, receipts for any medication or treatment you pay for, and make sure you have cash or a credit card with you.

In worst case scenarios, your country’s embassy or consulate can step in to assist you. The British Vice Consulate and Irish Consulate are both based in Heraklion on Crete. You will find their emergency numbers on the consulate websites. Make a note and carry the numbers with you, so you’re covered in an emergency.

Well Insured? Don’t Forget your Rental Car!
Another Insurance Policy not to be without

In addition to the excellent bus connections right on our doorstep, and our range of privately run excursions, we find that many of our guests choose the freedom of a rental car to fully explore the beautiful island of Crete.

Whilst Cretan mountain roads are idyllic, they are not without their challenges, including occasional scree, so rental car customers are always best advised to take out insurance for their rental vehicle.

Again, those paying by credit card may already be covered by their credit card company – it’s worth finding out in advance.

Our advice:

Look for a comprehensive insurance package that includes tyres, windscreen and undercarriage.

Think about off-road insurance. It is usually not included as standard, but there are many exciting adventures to be had off-road on Crete, including the wild and rugged Rodopou Peninsula.

See our Moments Article Best Ways to Book for more rental car tips.

We’re There for You!

As our guest at the Corissia Hotels and Resort, you can come to us in any and every situation. We’re there for you in emergencies, and happy to provide assistance in solving any issues you may face. Our staff speak English fluently, and are even happy to accompany you to a specialist should the need arrive.

From all of the team at Corissia, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday!

Written by Sarah O'Neill

A passionate traveller, linguist and writer, Sarah has visited over 20 countries around the globe. She loves immersing herself in new cultures, learning the language, and getting to know the local people.

Would you like to be an author at Moments of Inspiration?
Do you have an original idea for a guest blog post or interest to write regularly as an author for us? Send us your article or simply contact us at:

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