Travel Insurance and You
In Great Britain, there are one or two things that we take for granted, one of course is the weather, and consequently, like most northern Europeans, our right to travel abroad for the sun.
Another aspect in this country is of course, the NHS. The eternal matron in the wings for Britons, there to catch us if we fall, however, that assurance stops at our shores.
Travelling to Europe, however does not mean total divorce from it. To have a measure of medical cover across the EEA (European Economic Area) the NHS can still, in effect, provide limited medical cover. What you will need is an EHIC card.
This is freely available to UK residents and is a European Health Insurance Card. It will entitle the holder to a level of medical care equivalent to similar provided by the NHS, and the NHS refund the cost to the host hospital or clinic.
That works fine in Europe, most of it anyway, although crown dependencies can take travellers by surprise, the Channel Islands, for instance, or the Isle of Man which live under different tax rules are not part of the NHS, so even an EHIC card won’t work there.
Similarly there are countries within the EEA that have no state-backed health care, so the reciprocal arrangements do not apply.
The EHIC has its limitations, as does the NHS in this country, and it is always prudent to have independent travel insurance as a kind of belt and braces as far as health is concerned, and a health reciprocal system won’t be any help for other traveller’s potential problems, of cancellations, theft or damage to possessions.
Travelling outside Europe, will, in many cases need travel insurance to allow entry to the country, but to travel without it regardless of a country’s statutes, would be folly indeed.
There have been some frightening tales from lands as diverse as the USA to the Middle East, where tourists have been given bills for treatment of say heart attack, and subsequent heart surgery of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps the cost of a medium sized semi-detached house in the UK.
Simply choosing the cheapest available policy may not be the best move, if you’re going skiing, or any pastime seen as carrying extra risk, then it is worth the extra cost to get specific insurance cover.
Having your leg plastered in a Swiss hospital is not the time to have to study the small print of a cursory insurance policy.