Many of us over the coming half term will take the opportunity for a winter break. Whether that is to provide relaxation or an adrenalin filled activity holiday, we all hope to return home re-invigorated and ready to push on until the summer arrives. Unfortunately, if an accident occurs whilst you are on holiday the aftermath can feel all the more stressful. In unfamiliar surroundings with language barriers and feelings of isolation, many feel the consequences of an accident all the more acutely.
There are some steps you can take before leaving the UK to ensure you are ready and prepared for travel and should the worst case situation materialise.
- If travelling within the EU, obtain an E111 card before you go
This allows you to obtain medical treatment within another EU member state with the cost of the treatment recovered from the British Government under a reimbursement scheme.
- Check your ‘free’ travel insurance
If using the travel insurance provided with a benefits-added bank account, it is important that you carefully check the extent of the insurance cover and the criteria to ensure that the policy provides you with appropriate cover (e.g. winter sports) and that you meet the criteria (exclusions for age, pre-existing conditions, locations etc.).
- Be on the ball if you have to claim under your travel insurance
If you are travelling outside the EU and need medical treatment, initially you would contact your travel insurer to make a claim to meet the costs of any treatment and if needed, repatriation to the UK. The insurer’s assessment and decision on any claim is based entirely on the terms and conditions. They will initially check to ensure the policy is valid, so review all the information provided to them in terms of age, pre-existing conditions, the circumstances leading to the injury or activities.
If the worst happens and a claim has to be made under the Policy it is important to:
- Keep a detailed log of the discussions with the insurer
- Keep copies of all claim forms and receipts sent to the insurer
- Get the name of who you speak to at the insurer and ask for email confirmation of assurances given.
- If the insurers disagree with any element of the claim and you do not have a copy of the Policy with you, ask for this to be provided by email or fax to the hotel. There may be a difference of opinion between the injured person and the insurer as the best course of action. Many will want to be flown home as soon as possible, whereas the insurer may take the view that the most cost effective approach is to be treated in country.
- Accept that unless the insurer authorises the treatment costs and other expenses in advance, there is a risk they will not be covered.
- Don’t forget the other expenses which you may incur such as additional accommodation for family and friends, car hire, air fares for relatives to come out to you, lost earnings. Keep receipts (including for meals) as this will make it easier to claim from either a travel insurer or within a personal injury claim, if that is relevant.
In due course, it may be possible depending on the circumstances of the accident and your holiday booking, to pursue a claim in the UK even where the accident occurs abroad. The key factor is whether the holiday was booked as a package and therefore covered by the Package Travel Regulations.