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    Time to renew your EHIC card

    Stethoscope and EurosIf you're one of the millions of Brits planning a low-cost holiday at home this year, you're probably not banking on catching much of a tan. But look on the bright side - at least you'll never be far from a decent cup of tea or an NHS doctor.

    Those lucky enough to be travelling abroad for a break will no doubt be looking to make savings wherever they can. So you've scoured the internet for the lowest priced flights, you've bartered with the travel agent for a half-price hotel, and naturally you've taken advantage of the amazing hire car rates offered by Auto Europe (sorry, couldn't resist the plug) but all this hard work could be for nothing if you forget to renew your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

    Introduced in August 2005, the EHIC fully replaced the old E111 healthcare form from January 2009. It gives the carrier access to free or reduced cost state-provided medical treatment in the country they are visiting, and all UK residents are entitled to one. But BBC News has reported that, although nearly three out of five people claim to have an EHIC, 68% don't know it will expire at the end of March (according to a poll by the Department of Health).

    If you fall ill or have an accident in Europe and fail to present this card, you could be landed with a bill for thousands of pounds - and that'll definitely blow the budget. It's really easy to get an EHIC or renew the one you have. Just log on to www.ehic.org.uk or phone 0845 606 2030. It will arrive within a week or so, and can cover you within the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus (not northern Cyprus), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

    Combined with comprehensive travel insurance, the EHIC will give you peace of mind and financial protection to cover all eventualities. Forget to pack it at your peril!

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