Consider the worst-case scenario of an older person having their first, massive heart attack while on holiday in the USA Repatriation may not be possible, which could mean prolonged – and very expensive – treatment in the intensive care unit of a private hospital. The hospital bill could easily run into hundreds of thousands of pounds – which should be covered if you have a good travel insurance policy, subject to their terms and conditions.
Or imagine this – you walk into Bloomingdales in New York and visit their china department. You knock over a large, expensive vase which falls to the floor and breaks into a million pieces – and also breaks the toe of the shopper next to you. Your travel insurance policy should cover legal liability, accidental injury to third parties and damage to their property. Travel insurance policies vary, so make sure you read your policy document for the exact levels of cover.
The young, fearless, and healthy may feel their immune systems are strong enough to fight off any bugs or diseases. It's easy to be blasé and feel invincible when you're sitting comfortably at home dreaming of the adventures to come. No one wants to imagine themselves or a family member ill or hurt and lying in a hospital bed in a foreign country. At least with a good insurance policy, you'll have the security of knowing that help is at hand. More important – you will not be left to bear all the medical expenses alone. No pun intended – but they could be crippling.
You do not have to go bungee jumping or engage in extreme sports to get hurt. Accidents can happen in simpler ways such as tripping, falling down steps, engaging in ordinary sporting activities or road accidents. The medical costs can be exorbitant. Repatriation costs to the UK could set you back thousands. For instance:
- Transport by air ambulance, or with a medical escort, from the United States could cost anything from £ 10,000 to £ 30,000 An emergency flight home from Tenerife or Majorca could set you back anything from £ 10-15,000!
When purchasing travel insurance (through an agent or online) you will be asked to complete a medical screening process for each person named on the policy. If you have not been asked to do this you should walk (or click) away! It's vital that you disclose any pre-existing medical conditions at the time you purchase your travel insurance otherwise any associated claims may be invalidated. If unsure, call and ask for clarification.
If you plan to travel within the EEC do not be lulled into a false sense of security by thinking the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will provide total cover. The EHIC should be viewed as a supplement to your travel insurance policy – not as a substitute for it. In the major tourist areas of Europe the chances are high that you'd be taken to a private hospital – not a state hospital – which would not recognize the EHIC. This would leave you personally responsible for the bill unless you have travel insurance.
As with any insurance policy there will be exclusions and you need to know what they are – so always read the small print! Exclusions will probably include alcohol or drug-related incidents, terrorism, acts of nature, and participating in high-risk sports without special cover. There should always be a cooling off period to cancel if you feel the insurance cover is not right for you.
Being armed with water purifiers, insect repellents, antibacterial wipes, and taking care with the food and drinks you consume may not be enough. Biting insects – especially mosquitoes – are one of the main causes of disease transmission in many countries. There are other nasties you may not think about – such as parasites (often in freshwater pools), jellyfish, and ticks which can transfer onto your clothing when out hiking or camping. You may need to use public lavatories at some time during your trip and hygiene standards are not always up to the standards we are used to! Debilitating stomach bugs (Delhi belly, Tourist trots, Montezuma's revenge, etc.) can be contracted through unsanitary food handling. E.coli and other anti-fun bugs like to hide in contaminated food and water.
The simple answer is that deciding to 'pass' on travel insurance could mean potential disaster – personally and financially. The cost of a policy is a small price to pay for peace of mind. It does not guarantee that nothing bad will happen, but it does mean that you can thumb your nose at fate – and the bugs which might plot to spoil your holiday fun!