14 Feb 2009 by Olga Brighton
You may have to pay thousands of pounds in medical costs if you fall ill or have an accident outside this country. Most people are aware that medical care in USA is expensive, but many other countries also have expensive medical services, so it's important to have medical insurance when you travel.
While the UK has mutual health care agreements with many countries, these arrangements don't cover all the expenses you can incur. Even if you are visiting a country with a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK, bear in mind that, in an emergency, you might be sent across the border for treatment in a country where no such arrangement exists. The costs of relatives flying out to stay with you in the case of a serious incident and the costs of bringing you back to the UK, in the event of illness or death, are never covered under the arrangements. These costs would be covered by a good travel insurance policy.
Before you travel, always arrange travel insurance with health cover that is adequate for your destination. If you are unsure, talk to your insurer.
Declare anything that you think might affect the cover, such as current or past medical conditions. Otherwise you may not be covered by your policy. If you find a standard travel insurance policy does not cover you, because of a particular medical condition for example, you should consider seeking a policy specialist. An independent insurance intermediary should be able to find a policy suitable to your needs.
Some credit and charge cards provide health insurance for travellers but this may not be adequate for your needs. Private health care may also provide some cover. Talk to your insurer and take out extra cover, if necessary.
Take out a policy that has the benefit of a 24-hour Emergency Service. Serious accidents or illness will all be managed by the assistance company who will make any necessary arrangements, such as repatriation, and provide help and advice. No matter where you are going to travel, always check that your medical cover is adequate to meet whatever expenses you may incur. Always examine the conditions and exclusions of the policy and talk to your insurer if in any doubt.