Travel insurance is one of those things that we know we should all get, but many of us just accept the cover offered by our travel agents, or buy the cheapest policy we can find online. Travel insurance really only becomes important when something awful happens, as Scottish judo medallist Stephanie Inglis found out to her cost when she had a serious motorbike accident recently in Vietnam.
So what’s the problem?
The problem is that Stephanie didn’t have the correct policy for her trip, and her insurer refused to meet the costs of her medical treatment. Medics in Vietnam, and Stephanie’s friends and family quickly launched an internet appeal to fly her to Bangkok where her treatment could continue. Stephanie wasn’t covered because she was an on an extended trip to Vietnam to teach English, and had taken out an annual worldwide insurance policy without realising that visits to any one country were limited to 30 days. Although Ms Inglis was convinced that her policy would cover her in Vietnam, on reading the full terms and conditions the restrictions were clear and her insurance company refused the claim.
Always read the terms and conditions
We are always warned to read the terms and conditions of any insurance policy in full, but how many of us actually do? Most policies come with pages and pages of technical legal jargon to wade through, so most of us just tick the online box saying we’ve read the terms and conditions whether we have or not. This is a potentially dangerous practice which could leave you uninsured should you fall in or have an accident when overseas. One way around this is to call the insurer concerned and ask them to explain the key points of the policy or look for this information online before signing up, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking every policy is the same.
EHIC as a back-up?
Obviously in the case of South East Asia, comprehensive travel insurance is essential. But thousands of Brits find themselves in similar positions every year in Europe, when they have an accident or fall ill and haven’t got any travel insurance to get treatment. EHIC – the European Health Insurance Card – can help you to get medical care in an emergency such as the motorbike accident suffered by Stephanie Inglis. The exact provision varies from country to country, so read up on what’s included for the country you’re planning to visit. In most countries, as long as you make it clear that you want to be treated in the public healthcare system, the EHIC will cover you for emergency admission to hospital, any operations or medication you need, and nursing care until you recover. Depending on the country you might be asked to make a contribution towards the cost, but this is going to be a lot less than the £200,000 that the friends and family of Stephanie Inglis have had to raise to fund her treatment.