As people start to plan for their vacations in the coming months, The Best You asks if you’re sure you’re covered.
If you’re thinking about taking that vacation, a few months out or even a gap year, then you’ll be hyped up about the prospect of those amazing places you’re going to see and the new friends you’ll meet on the way. You’ll be thinking about the fun you can have, the cultural experiences and the adventures to be enjoyed along the way.
And with thoughts of jabs and itineraries and visas in your mind, it’s easy not to pay attention to what should seem like a formality – your insurance.
While the large print on many policies looks great, with millions of pounds worth of cover, it’s vital to be aware of the smallprint. Otherwise you may find yourself in foreign climes fighting for treatment, landed with a huge bill… or far worse.
Here are some things to watch out for:
Medical cover and coming home
While you may think that cover for falling ill or having an accident is the number one reason you bought your policy, insurers often appear to think differently. They will look for an “out”, especially if the bill for treatment and / or repatriation is hefty.
Take some time to read the exclusion clauses on your policy, and if you are travelling in the United States, consider paying for a higher level of insurance. Medical bills in the USA can be astronomical with £45,000 not unheard of for a medical repatriation.
For European Travellers, there is reciprocal arrangement for members of the 30 countries in the European Economic Area. Get a free European Health Insurance Card and you will receive the standard minimum care of the country you are travelling in. Although be aware that each countries’ charges for medical treatment vary.
While you’re away, you might well be tempted to have that adrenalin rush through skydiving, parascending, bungee jumping or whitewater rafting. While these are fairly obviously risky activities that insurers may not cover, others are less so. For example, some types of mountain trekking, dinghy racing and even cycle touring may be excluded. Check, check and check again.
Drugs and alcohol
All insurance companies will say the same thing about alcohol and non-prescribed drugs. If you are injured while under the influence of either, they will not pay out. Even skiers having an après-ski often suffer from this exclusion, despite it being very much a part of the culture. Be drink aware. As a guide, many insurers class “excessive” alcohol as any above the host country’s legal drink-drive limit.
In the modern day, family units are far more fluid than they were just a few years ago. A separated couple may share the holidays with their children, but if the children are travelling with a parent with whom they don’t normally live, then they may not be covered. It’s a bizarre distinction, but a very real one. If you’re travelling with kids, read that policy again.
Pre-existing Health Conditions
You must tell your insurer if you have a pre-existing medical condition. If you don’t disclose this information and you have to claim, your insurers may not pay out and you’ll have to find the funds for your treatment yourself.
Your best bet is to speak with your insurers in advance. They may ask for a premium for your condition, or they may refuse you. Either way, you know for sure where you stand.
Holly Raper is a British 23-year-old student who went on a dream tour of the world. After taking up farmwork in Tasmania, Australia, Holly was unfortunately involved in an accident while driving one of the farm’s quadbikes. Her injuries were severe, leaving her a year on with a minimal level of consciousness.
Although her insurance was supposed to cover her repatriation, care and treatment, her insurers refused to honour it in her case for two reasons. Firstly, because it excluded what it classed as ‘manual work’ and secondly because they classed the use of a quadbike as an extreme sport, despite her using it in the course of her employment.
She was eventually repatriated through a Tasmanian state scheme, and her parents are now fighting to win the funds Holly will need for prolonged care.
Remember, check to see if you are covered for the activities you are doing overseas. If something unusual comes up, ring or email your insurer to ask if you are covered. If you’re not, then it may pay you to take out further insurance.
Now go out and enjoy!
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