Comprehensive travel insurance is essential for all travellers and it is important that travellers purchase the correct insurance for their trip:
- Ensure insurance includes cover for accidents, emergency medical treatment, medical evacuation and repatriation.
- Always declare any underlying medical conditions and medicines that you take (including over-the-counter). Failure to do so may nullify insurance cover.
- In pregnancy, travel insurance policies should be checked to ensure both mother and unborn child are covered. Failure to notify travel insurance providers of pregnancy may nullify insurance cover.
- Check insurance coverage covers all intended destinations.
- Check insurance covers all planned activities eg adventure sports, climbing, skydiving, snow sports, scuba-diving and other water sports.
- Medical care abroad often requires payment at point of service; regardless of whether insurance cover is in place.
- Insurance policies are only as good as the medical facilities available.
- Insurers are unlikely to pay the healthcare bills of those that have suffered an injury perceived to be their own fault due to the influence of drugs/alcohol.
- Standard insurance policies are often sold at point of booking; however, they may not be the best policy for the individual. Some companies offer insurance policies specifically tailored to older travellers, adventure travellers or voluntary workers etc.
Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements with UK
For countries that are part of the European Economic Area (EEA) plus Switzerland, visitors may be entitled to reduced cost, sometimes free, medical treatment. To access reciprocal health care, UK residents should produce their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The healthcare covered by the EHIC is the same as that provided by the state for the residents of the country being visited. Private healthcare may require personal medical insurance.
Applications are free and can be made online at http://www.ehic.org.uk/ or by telephone (0300 330 1350) or by downloading the application form from the website. Online applications normally arrive within seven days and the EHIC is valid for five years. The agreements do not cover the cost of repatriation or routine monitoring of pre-existing conditions therefore additional medical insurance is still strongly recommended. For specific guidance on how to access healthcare or claim refunds during a visit, please go to NHS Choices at http://www.nhs.uk/.
Many destinations have no reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK and adequate medical insurance is strongly recommended.
Travellers should be aware of what to do if they become ill whilst abroad including how to access emergency medical treatment. Certain travellers, such as those with existing illness, travelling with children, going into remote areas, or the pregnant traveller may wish to try and identify health care facilities prior to departure. Addresses for local services are usually available at larger hotels and from tour company representatives.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides details of the nearest British Embassy or Consulate that may be able to help locate health care facilities at the destination. Neither the FCO nor the Embassy will pay for medical care even in an emergency.
A list of Travel Clinics, run by members of the International Society of Travel Medicine, is available on their website at http://www.istm.org/.
Further information on travel insurance for those with a medical condition such as asthma, diabetes, HIV or lung conditions can be found on various specialist websites e.g.
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