Travel insurance guide – what you need to know

Travel insurance guide – what you need to know

- in Guides, Travel Insurance
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With the impending summer holiday season nearly upon us, now would seem the most prudent time to remind those planning on overseas jaunts this year to prioritise your financial wellbeing before packing up your troubles and jetting off somewhere of warmer climes. Habitually millions of us optimistic Brits cheerily head off abroad with family and friends, seemingly unaware of the travel horrors that could await us no sooner than we’ve touched down on foreign soil. Not wanting to dissuade holidaymakers for making their summer excursion somewhere more emotionally, culturally and climatically bracing than Skegness by filing heads with tales of travel woe, we still feel it our duty to remind folk that things don’t always go as swimmingly as you’d hope once we slap on the factor 50 and begin our jollies. For a fact (yes, there’s no sticking your head in the sand when statistics are never more than a travel insurance headline away), some 4.4 million British holidaymakers have suffered an injury of one description or another during the past 3 years; which experts believe could have been side-stepped had appropriate (and preventative) measures been taken in advance.

Which is why it’s imperative that we do the necessary arrangements LONG before we book the taxi to the airport. Without being referred to henceforth as doom mongers, we simply wish to draw your attention to the fact(s) that sudden, unexpected injuries can befall any one of us without a moment’s notice, and that on occasion other people – and their negligent actions – could well be to blame for the physical and (possibly) psychological injuries you sustain. And if so, then, without putting too finer point on it, you’d be advised to pursue a claim for personal injury to in some way (financially) compensate for the pain, suffering and inconvenience. Trust us. Based on the statistically-supported understanding that any one of us could become the next hapless victim of the holiday blues, we’ve put together this concise compendium of the what, when, where, who, which and perhaps most useful bit, how. How that is, you can steer clear of any financial shortcomings whilst you’re soaking up the rays this season.

So, can you explain just what steps can/should I take to stay safe and sound while on holiday abroad this year?

Of course. And first up is, what else, but travel insurance. Have you arranged you cover for this summer as yet? If not, then what are you waiting for?! Succumbing to unexpected illness or indeed, being involved in an accident which leaves you with a serious injury to contend with can and will trigger a sizeable amount of stress for both you and your nearest and dearest, don’t kid yourself otherwise. OK, admittedly browsing through reams of travel insurance literature (or the online equivalent as is the accepted modern way) is time consuming and not exactly a fun-filled pastime; but nevertheless it’s a crucial part and parcel of your pre-holiday routine. Or if not, it really needs to be. Sourcing the most suitable, far-reaching and comprehensive travel policy for you and yours might well make ALL the difference between being in receipt of a pay-out (if things go a bit Pete Tong) or alternatively, being left worryingly right out of pocket, luck and hope. There are any number of providers of travel policies out there and a multitude of types to suit all holidays, budgets and destinations. So there really is NO excuse.

Realistically, are there any alternatives to travel insurance?

Yes and no. We mean, technically-speaking, there is the European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC), which you may or may not have previously got wind of, but it really is NO outright substitute for fully-fledged, all-consuming travel insurance cover. That’s not to diss it completely, as it makes a useful back-up in many situations and is far and away better than not protecting yourself at all. For those not au fait with exactly what an EHIC is, here’s a brief synopsis (to coin pseudo-medical jargon of sorts). The European Health Insurance Card is something all Brits are entitled to, courtesy of the UK’s operating of what’s called a residency-based healthcare system. Once you’ve applied (or renewed) your EHIC, then holidaymakers have ready access to state-funded treatment and medical procedures when visiting one of our many European partners. Or to be more precise, any other country geographically (and politically/economically)-situated within the European Economic Area.

With accidents – by virtue of their very nature – having an unwelcome habit of cropping up at any time, there’s always the chance that something nasty could befall you while you’re away from home. In some cases, a long way away from more familiar scenery. And then there’s the unpredicted bouts of illness which could just as easily/quickly strike us down when we’re least expecting/prepared for it. But here’s the rub. Despite offering the registered EHIC owner unreserved rights to the healthcare available in the country in which they fall ill/suffer an injury, what the EHIC DOESN’T do is afford the car-holder exclusive rights to everything a private travel insurance policy would; as many holidaymakers have found to their discomfort (in a monetary and physical sense). Think about this hypothetical scenario for instance. Say you sustain a very serious injury whilst holidaying abroad, the type of injury which necessitates the victim’s immediate repatriation to the UK to potentially receive life-changing treatment. If you haven’t got decent travel coverage and instead are relying on an EHIC, then you’re going to come even further a cropper. As you won’t be covered by this alone; ergo it’s vital to give a bona fide travel insurance police some soul-searching consideration before embarking this summer.

Say I do take out travel insurance and am unlucky enough to become ill/get injured; then what?

Should you fall prey to either of the above while overseas, there are a number of protocols to be aware of and to observe at your first convenience. Such as reporting the incident to your travel agent ASAP. Also, in the case of an accident, it’s strongly advised that you photograph the scene where the injury befell you, which could prove critical as a means of circumstantial evidence with which to support a travel insurance claim you make at a later date. Meanwhile – and as part of any holiday claim – it’s equally important that your agent’s representative (tour rep, etc) takes down the necessary information about your injury in their employer’s accident log book, along with committing the names, addresses and (most vitally) contact numbers of any independent witnesses who may have seen what happened to you; and who were present at the time and place.

Naturally enough, and if you’re hoping to actively pursue a claim for compensation against a third party who you feel is liable/negligent in your accident, then holidaymakers MUST make the effort to prove that said party was at fault. This works in terms of injury or illness, as with reference to the latter (and for example, in the event of you contracting a sickness bug through the consuming of uncooked food at a hotel restaurant as a point in question) you’d obviously be entitled to make a compensation claim against those individuals/company responsible. Specifics are hugely important too though, and if it emerged that although you ate the food – which led to your illness – on the hotel’s premises, if said food had been purchased off site then the liability wouldn’t be with the tour operator/hotel in this case. But that’s not to say you couldn’t follow up your claim with the establishment/retailer who sold you the contaminated foodstuff in the first place.

And finally, don’t forget, time is always of the essence when you’re pursuing a claim, so it doesn’t pay to rest on your laurels for too long on your return home. As it currently stands, the UK legislation in place offers British citizens a maximum time of 3 years in which to instigate a personal injury claim; however once that passage of defined time has passed, then with it has the  window of opportunity to pursue damages against who you believe is the offending party.

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