Importance of medical coverage in travel insurance policies

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It’s not the most exciting part of a vacation, but travel insurance is essential for any trip.

A comprehensive policy provides a valuable financial safety net against a number of potential disasters, such as unscheduled cancellations near a getaway, baggage lost while you are away.

A crucial part of any policy will also be the medical coverage it offers, so you won’t be left with jaw-dropping medical bills overseas.

Here, we break down how to find the best medical coverage for you when purchasing travel insurance, as well as what to think about when comparing your options.

Why do i need travel insurance with medical coverage?

Emergency medical care while you are abroad can be extremely expensive. the Association of British Insurers gives the example of a travel bill in 2020 for a month of private medical care in Spain after a fall and emergency medical repatriation to the UK for £ 124,000.

In his advice on travel insurance abroad, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) gives a potential cost of £ 100,000 for a stomach bug or infection treated at a hospital in the US with return flights.

So, to avoid ending up with costs like these, it is important to have good medical coverage when purchasing a policy.

Medical coverage – the basics

If you have a medical emergency abroad, the last thing you want to worry about is how you’ll pay for the treatment. To ensure that you are properly protected, the consumer group Which? recommends looking for policies with a minimum of £ 2million medical coverage for travel in Europe and £ 5million worldwide.

When you purchase a global policy, you will usually have two options: those that cover travel to the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean, and those that exclude travel to destinations such as the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. Exclusions may vary by insurer, so always check that the destination you are traveling to is in fact covered by your policy.

Medical treatments in the United States and some other destinations can be extremely high, so a policy that includes travel to these locations will generally cost more to reflect this risk.

You should look for a policy that covers:

  • The cost of emergency medical care while you are away. Also check whether your policy covers treatment in public and private hospitals.
  • Emergency repatriation – if you have to return to the UK for medical reasons.

You can also seek coverage for temporary emergency dental treatment, the cost of returning home if medical treatment causes you to miss your original flight, repatriation in the event of death abroad, and reasonable expenses for a family member or friend to travel while you are being treated.

Plus, make sure your insurer has a 24-hour emergency hotline.

Should I inform my insurer of pre-existing medical conditions?

When you purchase a new travel insurance policy, you will need to answer medical screening questions. Make sure you answer these questions honestly, as a claim may be refused if you find that you have not disclosed medical details.

If your state of health changes before you travel, you must also inform your insurer.

What is considered a pre-existing medical condition varies from insurer to insurer, so always answer questions fully.

As an example, provider Staysure says “a pre-existing medical condition is a condition for which you have had symptoms, surgery, investigations, or medical appointments within the past two years.”

Another insurer, LV =, talks about pre-existing medical conditions in the last five years of your life, such as:

  • cardiac problem
  • respiratory disorder such as asthma
  • circulatory condition (such as a stroke or high blood pressure)
  • gastrointestinal or digestive problem
  • condition of bones or joints
  • any form of cancer.

It also refers to any medical investigations, tests, treatments, surgeries or medications prescribed for conditions or symptoms related to a diagnosed condition.

With some travel insurance companies, Covid-19 can also be considered a pre-existing condition, so always check.

Once you have declared a pre-existing condition, some policies exclude coverage for your medical condition while others may charge additional fees to cover it. Make sure you know what is covered and that you are comfortable with it.

If you have trouble finding insurance due to a serious health problem, the prices are high, or your condition has been ruled out, the Money Advice Service has a specialist. phone book it can help.

Will travel insurance cover medical treatment for Covid-19?

Many travel insurance policies now offer some level of coverage against emergencies and disruptions due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, levels of coverage and what is covered vary from company to company, so read the terms carefully before committing to a policy.

Analysis by financial rating firm Defaqto from February of this year found that almost all (96%) of insurance products on the market covered medical expenses if you caught Covid-19 on vacation, but only 72% would cover cancellation fees if you test positive for Covid-19 before traveling.

Other things to consider when considering coverage specifically for the coronavirus pandemic are whether you would be covered for:

  • Cancellation if you have been told to isolate yourself before a trip.
  • Interruption if you were denied boarding due to symptoms of Covid-19 or additional charges if it was your return trip.

While a change in FCDO travel advice or a local or national lockdown could disrupt a trip, you are unlikely to find coverage for this through travel insurance as it is a known risk. for the time being. To protect your money from this, look for flexible booking policies or book a package holiday that should be canceled if there is a change in FCDO advice.

Do I still need travel insurance for Europe if I have a GHIC?

Global Health Insurance Cards (GHIC) replaced European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) after Brexit. If you have an existing EHIC, however, it will be valid until its expiration date.

A GHIC gives you access to public healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost and sometimes free of charge.

However, while a GHIC is an important item to take on a trip to Europe and some insurers may require you to have one for a policy to be valid, it is not a substitute for travel insurance. It may not cover all health costs and will not cover repatriation or mountain rescue costs at ski resorts. It also won’t protect you against things other than a comprehensive travel insurance policy, like lost items.

What should a travel insurance policy cover?

While medical coverage is an essential part of a comprehensive travel insurance policy, you should also seek coverage for:

● Cancellation and reduction – always purchase a policy as soon as you book a trip to be covered for unforeseen events that may cause you to cancel near a trip. This should cover the value of your trip or more.

● Baggage and personal effects – if your personal effects are lost, stolen or destroyed, your insurance will cover the cost of replacement.

● Personal liability – travel insurance could pay if you accidentally injure someone or damage their property.

If you haven’t booked an ATOL-protected package holiday, you can also look for a policy that includes end-supplier failure. This provides financial protection if a travel agency you are booking with goes out of business. On the other hand, a scheduled airline failure offers the same protection to airlines only.

Also, think about all the activities you will participate in on a trip – from winter sports to quad biking – and make sure they are covered by your policy.

How to find the best medical travel insurance?

To find the best travel insurance for you at a competitive price, it’s important to shop around and compare a number of policies side by side. To make sure you are properly protected, always be honest about pre-existing conditions and watch out for the financial limits surrounding claims.

Also watch out for any excess amount and think carefully about accepting a large excess amount to reduce the cost of a policy as it could turn out to be a false economy if you have to claim.


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About John McTaggart

John McTaggart

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