Holidaymakers risk costly medical bills with travel insurance

Thousands of holidaymakers run the risk of costly bills for illness and accidents because they do not obtain travel insurance.

According to Dermot Goode of totalhealthcover.ie, holidaymakers need to ensure they have checked both their private medical insurance and their travel insurance plans to be certain they are covered.

“Most private hospitals abroad will look for either evidence of comprehensive travel cover or a deposit on your credit card before treating you.

“A deposit of €1,500 to €2,500 is not unusual and you can expect to pay €750 to €1,000 per day depending on the hospital and the medical treatment required.”

However, most private health insurance policies include €55,000 to €100,000 worth of ‘Emergency Cover Whilst Abroad.’

“Travel insurers will give you a discount if you have private health insurance cover as your health insurer covers the first part of any claim up to the limit on your policy,” Mr Goode said.

He said many consumers rely on this instead of taking out full travel cover which is not sufficient. “The fact is that if you have an accident while on holidays and if your medical costs exceed these limits, then you are personally liable for the difference. This could be tens and even hundreds of thousands [of euro].”

Totalhealthcover.ie has warned some health insurance policies have no cover for foreign travel at all. It pointed out that, if you join GloHealth and don’t opt for their personalised package for travel cover, then you will have no travel cover.

Mr Goode pointed out that, even if holidaymakers take out travel cover on top of private health insurance, they need to check and double check the policy as “the devil is always in the detail”.

“For example, most policies limit any one trip from anything from 30 to 60 days depending on the policy. If your trip extends beyond these limits, then you will have no cover. Some policies insist that you contact their ‘Emergency Assist’ number first and they organise all your treatment for you. This means that if you organise everything yourself and look for payment on your return, you may find yourself with an invalid claim,” he said.

Mr Goode also said anyone with a pre-existing medical condition needs to be very careful.

“If you don’t have health insurance in place, many travel policies will exclude any conditions that have been treated for in the past 18 to 24 months. If you travel abroad against medical advice or specifically to get certain medical treatment, you may not be covered at all by your policy,” he said.

Totalhealthcover.ie advised people to contact their travel insurer and health insurer prior to travelling to double-check what they are covered for.


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