EHIC not a replacement for IPMI, says Jelf International

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Employers warned to not pay for duplication of cover between IPMI and travel insurance

In a press release issued by the ABI earlier this month (13 July 2016), the organisation urged holidaymakers to keep calm and carry on travelling with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC, previously the E111) and travel insurance, and that there are no immediate changes to either, following the vote to leave the EU. However, Jelf Employee Benefits warns employers that the EHIC and travel insurance do not provide sufficient protection for employees working or travelling overseas. “They never have and are unlikely to in the future,” warns Adam Harding, business development manager, Jelf International.

The company lays out the key reasons why EHIC is not adequate for work-related relocation or trips to European countries:

  • EHIC provides cover akin to what is available for the local population, not all countries have a free-at-the-point-of-use healthcare system like the NHS in the UK.
  • EHIC is designed for medical treatment deemed necessary before the cardholder returns home.
  • EHIC only allows individuals to access state-provided facilities – these may be free or at a reduced cost – equivalent to people who live in that country.
  • As treatment is based on equivalent state healthcare, facilities may be oversubscribed or remote.

Whereas IPMI (international private medical insurance) can:

  • Give faster access to healthcare than might otherwise be available.
  • Provide access to English-speaking doctors and nurses, or to multiple linguists via the insurer.
  • Provide access to health facilities that meet key quality standards.
  • Provide coverage if employees are also travelling outside of Europe where there are no reciprocal agreements.
  • Give online support to find the most appropriate facilities in the location employees are based.

“If you are relocating staff abroad, then part of that process is agreeing effective health cover for them,” continued Harding. “It’s a common misconception that the EHIC will allow anyone access to healthcare across Europe – the card is primarily aimed at short-term holidaymakers.

“The simple message is that International PMI is a vital consideration for expats. Travel insurance may also be required by overseas staff, particularly if travelling outside of their base location – policy wording will include clear guidelines about how often employees can travel, and how long they can be overseas. However, there is likely to be an element of duplicate cover – and a professional adviser can ensure an employer is not paying more than they need to in such scenarios, but will ensure they have adequate cover – the most important thing.”

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