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According to recent research by the Association of British Travel Agents, over 20% of Brits travel abroad uninsured each year. This may sound like a low number, but when you consider that the average medical bill is over £900, that is a lot of people leaving themselves vulnerable to expensive bills if something goes wrong.
Travel Insurance can be a confusing purchase, so to help everyone who has purchased or is considering purchasing travel insurance; here are our top five frequently asked questions and their answers.
First let’s quickly cover some background info about the EHIC. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the previous E111 certificate in January 2006, and is free to order via the NHS. The card entitles the holder to receive the same benefits as local residents in any state hospital within the EU (e.g. free or discounted health care and prescriptions).
Although the EHIC provides free or discounted medical cover, it is not a substitute for travel insurance, as the EHIC will not pay to get you home in a medical situation – called repatriation. Travel insurance also covers the costs of lost or stolen personal possessions, missing cash, and liability or legal situations, plus many more expensive disasters not covered by the EHIC.
Pregnancy is not a medical condition, and so shouldn’t need to be declared to your insurer. The only time you may need to declare your pregnancy is if you have connected medical conditions, for example high blood pressure or gestational diabetes.
Travel insurers will have different rules about the cover they provide for travelling whilst pregnant, for example we cover normal pregnancy and child birth up to 28 weeks, from the start of week 29 we only cover unexpected complications. Airlines have similar rules, for example many airlines won’t allow pregnant passengers to fly after 28 weeks, and women must have a fit to fly note from their doctor to prove their due date, otherwise they may be denied boarding.
Most travel insurers will ask you to declare your medical conditions, ranging from historical heart or breathing conditions, to non-routine GP visits in the last two years. It is really important that you declare these conditions to your insurer as fully and accurately as possible, otherwise you may not be covered if your condition flares up whilst abroad, or if you have to cancel your holiday for a reason linked to your medical conditions.
Having as much information as possible on your medical history will also help if you face a medical emergency abroad, for example your insurer’s emergency assistance team can then communicate with your treating doctors to ensure you get the best and most accurate treatment possible.
Most travel insurance policies will advise against seeking medical treatment in private clinics, there are many reasons for this, but the most important are…
1) Private hospitals are businesses which need to be profitable to stay afloat, which unfortunately has led to tourist traps all over the world. The ‘tourist trap’ refers to certain privately owned medical clinics around the world who seek to ‘trap’ tourists by inflating medical bills in the hope of getting paid by the tourist or their travel insurance. These clinics usually pay taxi drivers, hotels and hostels to send any injured tourists to their clinics, they then charge extortionate rates without providing appropriate care for their patients. To protect yourself against falling into the trap, always make sure you visit a state facility if possible, and under no circumstances should you ever give your credit card details or surrender your passport to anyone.
2) Public hospitals are regulated by the state – private clinics are not. In a public hospital it is virtually impossible for a doctor to be working in a field for which he is not qualified. Unfortunately, there are many doctors in the private sector who are not as qualified as they claim; this happens in the Mediterranean holiday resorts as well as further afield.
3) Public hospitals are inspected regularly with regard to their standards of medical care, hygiene, fire hazards, etc., whereas private hospitals may only be inspected in response to complaints.
Most travel insurance policies are split into Policy A and Policy B;
Policies A and B will have policy limits for each section and an excess for each section; both of these will almost always apply per person. E.g. our Standard Multi Trip policies offer £1,500 cancellation cover with a £100 excess, so in the event of a claim a couple with a Standard Multi Trip policy could claim £3,000 for cancellation and pay a £200 excess.
To get a quote please choose one of the following policy types;