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Travelling with a mental health condition

Travelling is one of life’s perks and can be hugely enjoyable, but when you have a mental health condition, travel can add to the challenges of arranging a trip abroad.

With one in four of us expected to experience some form of mental health condition throughout our lifetimes, it’s common for people to travel with one disorder or another.

From depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, it’s important to remember that it’s all about planning well in order to ensure that your trip goes as smoothly as possible.

The team here at Insurancewith have compiled a handy travel checklist for you to read through before you embark on your trip:

  • Medication – As with any medical condition, if you’re on medication, make sure that you bring enough to cover the duration of your trip as well as extra just in case your transport is delayed, it becomes damaged or is lost. Also take into account the conditions that your medication will be travelling in i.e. humid climates or being on board a flight.
  • Doctor’s letter – If you’re travelling with medication, it’s important to also bring a doctor’s letter confirming the importance of the medicine and the consequences of not having them accessible or with you. Some medications are illegal in other countries without proof of prescription, so a doctor’s letter is essential should anything occur.
  • Doctor and prescription details – Make sure you include your doctor’s contact details and an explanation of your medical circumstances. This will come in useful should you need any treatment whilst abroad, as it can help any medical staff tending to you. If all of your medication becomes damaged or lost, having a copy of your prescription details will help you acquire further medication whilst abroad.
  • Identification – Having your hotel details, name and date of birth will come in useful should you find yourself lost or disorientated in an unfamiliar destination.
  • Travel insurance Travel insurance is important for anyone thinking of travelling abroad. Your insurers will often specify that you notify them of any incident which occurs whilst on your trip, so having your documents packed will ensure you have contact and cover details to hand just in case you need to make a claim. To get a quote for travel insurance which can cover you for your mental health condition, please click here.
  • EHIC card – This little piece of plastic can often save you thousands of pounds in potential medical care expenses. If you’re thinking of travelling throughout Europe, this free card helps you get free or subsidised healthcare. Please bear in mind that most organisations do not see this as full payment, and any additional costs can be covered by your travel insurance policy if you do not want to find yourself out of pocket.

Packing physical things isn’t the only thing you need to think about before travelling. Travel can be stressful at the best of times, so doing your research and preparing well can lower your stress levels and reduce the risk of any panic. Insurancewith recommends that you:

  • Talk to your doctor – seek advice from your doctor before you travel. They know both you and your condition better than most so will be able to give you travel advice, and extra medication if needs be.
  • Have a flexible itinerary – Rushing around sightseeing can be fun, especially if you’ve only got a tight window to do everything in, but often tiredness and stress can exacerbate mental health conditions. Make sure you take time to rest and do things at your own pace.
  • Avoid nasty surprises – knowing exactly what you’re doing with a well planned trip and itinerary is a sure way to avoid triggering stress. Going and doing familiar things can also help.
  • Research what you will do if something happens. Find out what the medical facilities are like abroad – not every country has the same level of mental health care as we do in the NHS. Factor this in when planning your trip and decide on an action plan for you and your companion should something happen. Research what mental health services are available in your destination, and decide who would help you if your mental health deteriorated abroad, and how would you contact them?

How to choose the right medical insurance provider

With the sheer amount of travel insurance on offer these days it can be very overwhelming trying to find the right cover for you and when planning the holiday of a lifetime the last thing you want to do is stress over your cover.

If you suffer from a pre-existing medical condition then it is extremely important you are covered when travelling abroad, to help reduce the stress of choosing an insurance provider we have put together a quick guide for what you should look out for.

EUROPEAN HEALTH INSURANCE CARD

Make sure it suits you

Every medical condition is different, as is every person who suffers from it. This means medical insurance providers need to be flexible and understand your condition and your needs in order to offer you the best service possible.

While some providers claim to be experts in medical insurance, it is always best to look through the information on their site to see if they have anything, which relates specifically to your condition. This will give you the reassurance that they have people on hand to discuss in detail any reservations you have about travelling.

Reviews and testimonials are also a great way to get an idea of what a company’s service is like prior to signing up. These will be from people in your position, possibly even with the same condition as yourself.

Couple at home using laptop computer

Read the small print

While it’s not the most exciting part of your holiday planning, ensuring you have the right cover for you can be one of the most important. Different companies offer different rates and cover, which may sometimes be confusing.

Medical cover is something, which is easy to take for granted when living within the UK as the NHS covers the vast majority of medical expenses that most people will encounter

Leaving the UK means you are also leaving the protective blanket of the NHS and if you should require any kid of medical assistance while abroad, you may face substantial fees.

 

  • Make sure you always read the small print when looking for cover to avoid being hit by hidden fees or not getting sufficient cover.

 

  • Things such as cancellation costs and loss of personal belongings can often be left out of medical cover.

 

  • This is something which can be a nasty surprise if the worst should happen while you are away and you decide to make a claim. Ensuring you know exactly what you are covered for will help put your mind at rest and let you concentrate on enjoying your holiday.

With so much on offer it is easy to get confused. We believe your insurer should avoid all the legal jargon, hidden fees and be on hand to offer support and guidance on exactly what you need covered and why.

 

Vaccinations

Every year travellers from the UK become ill whilst overseas due to diseases, bacteria and viruses which can be prevented through adequate vaccinations before departure from the UK. It’s important that you discuss any planned travel with your GP or consultant to ensure you have the correct vaccinations for your destination/s and about any continuing medication like anti-malaria tablets you may need.

Vaccinations may be an entry requirement for some countries, so check with the embassy or online about what injections you might need to have before you travel. If you visit the country without having the correct vaccinations, you may be refused entry past security and customs or required to have the vaccination there and then. It’s never too late to vaccinate yourself against these diseases, but some vaccines require a long time to take effect.

Please note that the guidelines below are not specific to any particular country but an idea of what immunisations to expect when you consult your GP about visiting your destination.

If you’re travelling to Africa:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised:   Hepatitis A.
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Cholera; Diphtheria; Hepatitis B; Rabies; Tetanus; Typhoid.

 

If you’re travelling to Central Asia: (Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised:   Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Rabies; Tetanus; Typhoid; Malaria.
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Cholera; Diphtheria; Polio

 

If you’re travelling to Eastern Asia: (Thailand, China, Japan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Korea, Indonesia etc)

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Typhoid; Tetanus; Diphtheria; Rabies
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Malaria; Cholera; Japanese Encephalitis; Tick-borne Encephalitis; Polio

If you’re travelling to Australasia & Pacific:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Typhoid; Tetanus; Diphtheria;
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Malaria; Cholera; Japanese Encephalitis

 

If you’re travelling to the Caribbean:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Tetanus; Diphtheria.
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Malaria; Cholera; Typhoid; Rabies; Yellow Fever.

 

If you’re travelling to Central America:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Typhoid; Tetanus; Rabies
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Hepatitis B; Malaria; Diphtheria; Yellow Fever

 

If you’re travelling to elsewhere in Europe or Russia:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised:  Tetanus;
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Diphtheria; Rabies; Typhoid; Japanese Encephalitis; Tick-borne Encephalitis;

 

 If you’re travelling to the Middle East:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Typhoid; Tetanus; Diphtheria; Rabies
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Malaria; Cholera; Polio; Flu; Meningitis

 

If you’re travelling to North America:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised:  Tetanus
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Hepatitis A; Hepatitis B; Diphtheria; Rabies; Typhoid; Malaria; Cholera; Japanese Encephalitis; Tick-borne Encephalitis; Polio

 

If you’re travelling to South America:

  • Confirm primary courses and boosters are up to date as recommended for life in Britain – including for example, vaccines required for occupational risk of exposure, lifestyle risks and underlying medical conditions.
  • Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Tetanus;
  • Other vaccines to consider:   Hepatitis B; Typhoid; Malaria; Diphtheria; Rabies; Yellow Fever

 

Medical Care Abroad

Going abroad usually means you are leaving the safe umbrella of the NHS, and medical costs overseas can often be more expensive than we realise. Whilst travel insurance can help us with these high costs after we’ve had an accident or become ill, it also covers costs that the free or subsidised medical treatment you’re entitled to, might not.

EHIC – Europe

If you’re planning on travelling somewhere within the European Economic Area (EEA), including Switzerland, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to get state healthcare subsidised or for free. It will cover any emergency medical attention and medicines which are needed to allowed to continue your stay until you plan to return. It also covers you for the treatment of any pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, just so long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.

An EHIC renewal or application is entirely free of charge. However, other unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them.

Apply for a new EHIC card here.

If you’re having difficulties with the online application form, you want to update your personal details or replace a lost or stolen card, call the automated EHIC application service on 0300 3301 350.

Reciprocal Health Care Agreement – RHCA in New Zealand

If you are travelling as a visitor in New Zealand, and seek medical attention, you will be enrolled in this system, any medical treatment you receive will be subsidised by the New Zealand Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

The New Zealand Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. Meaning Australian residents can get help with the cost of medical treatment whilst visiting these countries, and residents of these countries can get some essential medical treatments whilst visiting Australia.

If you’re travelling within New Zealand and have to seek medical attention, find a public state hospital and make sure you have proof of UK residence with you, which can be any one of the following:

  • UK passport including the Channel Islands
  • National Health Service Medical Card
  • Certificate issued by the Social Security Committee of Jersey
  • Proof of insurance issued by the Guernsey States Insurance Authority OR other proof of residence in the Baliwick of Guernsey
  • A valid and in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) bearing the initials ‘UK’

Reciprocal Health Care Agreement – RHCA/Medicare in Australia

Medicare is a publically funded health care system available to citizens and ordinarily resident individuals throughout Australia. If you are travelling as a visitor in Australia, and seek medical attention, you will be enrolled in this system and any medical treatment you receive will be subsidised by the Australian Government’s Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA).

The Australian Government has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with New Zealand, the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norway. Meaning Australian residents can get help with the cost of medical treatment whilst visiting these countries, and residents of these countries can get some essential medical treatments whilst visiting Australia.

If you’re travelling within Australia and have to seek medical attention, find a public state hospital and make sure you have proof of UK residence with you, which can be any one of the following:

  • UK passport including the Channel Islands
  • National Health Service Medical Card
  • Certificate issued by the Social Security Committee of Jersey
  • Proof of insurance issued by the Guernsey States Insurance Authority OR other proof of residence in the Baliwick of Guernsey
  • A valid and in-date European Health Insurance Card (EHIC card) bearing the initials ‘UK’

Over 65’s Travel Insurance

Whilst the over-65’s may enjoy the occasional free entry into tourist attractions and concessions on tickets and fares, many are expected to pay hugely inflated travel insurance premiums as soon as they hit the age of 65, and that’s if the travel insurance company offer cover at all. For many, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, this proves to be a problem when they’re looking to go overseas for a relaxing break and want cover should something go wrong.

Why are travel insurance premiums so high?

Insurers base their premiums on the perceived risk of you having to put in a claim. After the age of 65, people tend to fall ill more often, are more prone to accidents and are more expensive to treat. Whilst there is no doubt that there are 80 year-olds who are just as able as 60 year-olds, insurance experts won’t offer you a discount as a reward for being fit and healthy.

InsuranceWith are a specialist medical travel insurance provider who believe that everyone has the right to travel, and as such have developed an innovative 1-2-1 medical screening process that asks relevant questions for your condition so that we can offer you an affordable quote to uniquely cover your situation.

How much cover should I go for?

You should go for the amount of cover that best suits you. Whilst the best policy might not be the cheapest one, it will be the one that offers you the right amount of cover at the best price. No two policies are the same, and don’t offer the same levels of cover with the same terms and conditions. The best way of seeing which policy covers you adequately is to read each policy individually and see what fits your situation.

What sort of policy?

Because many travellers that are over 65 are retired, they often go for longer holidays or visit several destinations over the course of a year.

If you want to go abroad more than twice in a year, a multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than a single-trip, and will cover you for the duration of your holidays.

If you’re intending on only going on one trip this year, a single trip policy is more likely to suit you.

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