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According to the Foreign Office’s (FCO) recent report British Behaviour Abroad based on data from April 2009 to March 2010, a total of 19,839 Britons needed consular assistance, of that, 6,439 were arrested or detained abroad and 3,689 were hospitalised. Of the 3,689 hospitalisations, the highest number occurred in Spain with 831, followed by Greece with 471 and in Egypt 235. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, Jeremy Browne, who unveiled the report in Thailand, said: “This report shines a light on the number of Britons who get into difficulty abroad each year. “The worrying fact is that so many of these situations are preventable. Helping out Britons in trouble abroad is part of our job, but we can’t get you out of jail or pay your hospital bills.
Many Britons who do fall ill while abroad are facing costly treatment and repatriation bills, because they have either not taken out travel insurance, omitted to declare a pre-existing medical condition or have wrongly presumed that if they are travelling in the European Union their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) would fully cover them for all medical costs.
The report highlights the importance of not just purchasing travel insurance, but the correct travel insurance for your needs.
The costs of medical treatment abroad can be exceptionally high, even in Europe when you use your EHIC card. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not always cover all your medical costs and never covers the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts and repatriation to the UK. It must be remembered, the EHIC allows you to be treated on the same basis as a resident of the country you are visiting, and this can vary greatly from country to country and no country has the comprehensive health care system we enjoy in the UK. Furthermore, some more remote areas you many travel to in Europe do not have a state medical system, only private and therefore the EHIC card is not acceptable there.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition you must fully declare your condition. You may think that something has no bearing on your travel insurance but it is always best to declare everything and let your travel insurance provider decide what is and is not relevant. That way you will have no nasty surprises should you need to make a claim.
An example given by the FCO in their report tells of a case involving a retired man who suffered a major heart attack while travelling in the US. His wife called the consular team to seek advice after their insurance policy was deemed invalid as the couple had failed to declare the husband’s double bypass operation some 20 year previously. The couple had already paid $10,000 (£6,500) to the hospital and the wife was concerned about costs. The Foreign Office staff helped her arrange a payment plan via the hospital’s finance department. When you submit a medical travel insurance claim, your insurance providers will always check your medical history with your medical practitioner, therefore it is very easy for them to find out if you have any pre-existing medical condition you have not declared and either declare your policy void or simply decline your claim.
Many people wrongly assume that by declaring their medical conditions their travel insurance will become unaffordable. This however is not the case, there are now many travel insurance providers who offer to cover the more common medical conditions at premiums what are not much higher than those without a medical condition. At the forefront of this is travel insurance provider Insurancewith, who have worked with many medical charities to understand a vast number of medical conditions from common ones like cancer, diabetes and heart conditions to the rare genetic conditions, this enable them to look at the actual risk of the condition rather than the perceived risk, which enables them to offer lower premiums.
Jeremy Browne, Foreign and Commonwealth Minister says: “A bit of preparation before you go, such as arranging travel insurance and checking our website, will ensure you get the most out of your trip without bad memories and big bills.”
To get a pre exisiting medical condition travel insurance quote, or for more information please click here or give our UK customer service centre a call on 0845 2 307 159.