Health and Travel Insurance: What You Should Know

Health and Travel Insurance: What You Should Know

Travel insurance often includes some kind of health plan. This is to provide you with medical cover should you fall ill while abroad. However, many policies will also include cover for things like loss of possessions and paying for a flight home – if you need to be treated in the UK.

travel health insurance map

Your standard private health insurance may not always cover you when you travel. If you fall ill while abroad, you may need emergency medical treatment. When going on holiday, taking out insurance usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.

Nonetheless, health care may be very expensive if you don’t take out travel insurance.

So, before signing up for anything make sure that you’re fully aware of the implications.

Take a closer look at the ins and outs – only then you’ll be ready to sign that travel insurance policy.

Health insurance when you travel: The why

The average Brit may face costs in the region of £2000 or more if they have to receive medical attention abroad. Often, this is much higher. Travel/health insurance combos usually lower or completely cover health care costs.

An extreme example would be a UK resident who gets sick while on holiday in the States. The cost of medical attention and an air ambulance could easily reach nearly £500,000.

Other reasons to consider health and travel insurance:

  • The costs of returning home will be covered.
  • Your standard forms of insurance in the UK won’t be covered when you’re abroad.
  • It’s unlikely that you’ll receive help from the British consulate with regards to hospital costs.

Beyond health care: What does travel insurance cover?

Health is not the only thing that many travel insurance policies cover. For example…

  • The costs of stolen and/or lost luggage will be reimbursed.
  • Emergency medical expenses.
  • Should you need to cut your trip short, delay or even cancel your trip then you’ll be covered.
  • Personal liability costs (damaging property or injuring someone).

Honesty is the best policy

Always keep this in mind: do not lie to your travel insurance provider. Questions about health and circumstances must be answered honestly. Even if you think that something isn’t important, always report it to them.

There are also a couple of things you would do well to keep in mind:

  • “Dangerous” activities (adventure sports such as skydiving, or winter sports such as skiing) aren’t usually covered by standard policies.
  • The Foreign Commonwealth Office recommends that travellers avoid certain countries or regions. Those who choose to travel there may be refused covered by providers.
  • Policies may differ when it comes to covering customers for strikes, earthquakes, terrorism, civil unrest or epidemics. You’ll have to check with your provider for this one.

IMPORTANT: Travel with EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)

Every UK citizen is entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). With it, British travellers on holiday will receive the same level of public medical care that the country provides its own residents. EHIC is valid in every country in the European Economic Area – as well as Switzerland.

NOTE: The level of care that you receive at a local level may not always be up to UK standards. Depending on the local system, you may need to pay some medical costs. The EHIC also doesn’t cover repatriation (returning to one’s own country) after recovery.

It is well worth it to have the EHIC. But it may not be enough.

Travel insurance and health: What’s the main value?

Travel insurance provides emergency health care when you’re on holiday. You may fall off a ski slope and have to be airlifted to hospital. Perhaps one of your children falls ill – what then? This can be particularly worrying if the country has sky-high medical costs (such as the United States).

This type of cover is certainly good value, especially when you consider what’s at stake.