Holidays can typically be among our biggest purchases each year, and if you're budget conscious, you might be thinking about skipping the travel insurance in favour of a few extra beers by the beach. Before you do, here's a few things to consider.
Whilst in the UK we're lucky enough to have access to free healthcare under the NHS, other countries don't always provide the same level of free care for their citizens or visitors to their shores. If for example, you're hiking in Yosemite National Park in Northern California and you take a tumble down a hill and break a leg, your medical bills could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds by the time you've been treated and transported home.
The European Health Insurance Card gives you rights as an EEA citizen to access medical care in member countries. This is obviously valuable and travelers should always carry their cards when visiting member countries, however, treatment is not always free meaning you may have to find money to pay for any shortfall. You usually won't be covered for getting home either. It's worth noting that increasing numbers of Insurers 'waive' any excess relating to medical fees if the EHIC card is presented at the point of the healthcare needed so do get in the habit of carrying it with you whilst travelling.
And don't forget, it's not all about medical expenses. Without travel insurance, you may not be covered if your trip gets cancelled or delayed, if you lose your luggage, or encounter any legal issues while on your holiday.
You're on a family holiday and your mother, who's with you on holiday, falls ill. You're trying to get medical care for her but don't speak the language. It turns out that she's going to need a long stay in hospital and repatriation home. Having an appropriate travel insurance policy in place would give you and mum the financial support needed to deal with this stressful situation, so you can concentrate on helping your mum get better rather than worry about the increasing costs of the healthcare.
Many insurers have a 24-hour helpline which you can use to find out where to take her for treatment. They often have an interpreter to assist you also. As long as everything had been declared correctly at the time of purchasing the policy, your mother's medical expenses would be covered and the insurance company would arrange for your mum to be flown back to the UK if this was in line with the medical view. Imagine having to sort all that on your own!
Some bank accounts and credit cards will give you travel insurance as part of their overall package. You'll need to check the policy to see if the cover is sufficient for what you need. For example, some might only provide European cover rather than worldwide and if you plan on doing any extreme sports, these can often be excluded.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, these will need to be declared and often will lead to an additional premium being charged. This declaration can be often overlooked if there has been a change in your medical history during the year, so you should consider this carefully prior to travelling. Don't forget also, that for family cover, this declaration is likely to be required for each of those covered by the policy. Finally, family cover is likely to change once children reach a certain age and they become 'excluded'. This is often at age 18 although can be whilst the individual is in full time education or age 21 so again, do check before travelling.
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