Brits urged to take out travel insurance as hospitalisation cases soar

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24 Jul 2012 11:52 by UKinSpain Star rating. 21 posts Send private message



Holidaymakers and their families face risk of huge bills if visitors lack insurance or invalidate their policies


New report reveals Spain has highest number of hospitalised Brits worldwide


More than 1,100 cases of Brits ending up in hospital were reported to consular staff in Spain last year, according to a new report from the Foreign Office.


The number is equivalent to 20 hospitalisations in Spain every week, and represents nearly a third of the total number of cases around the world.  The figures come from the annual British Behaviour Abroad report for the period 1 April 2011 - 31 March 2012.


In the Balearics, the number of reported cases has soared. Over the last two years (since 2009/10), Mallorca has seen a 132% increase in hospitalisations, and Ibiza a 40% rise. Many of these cases involve teenage holidaymakers. Common causes are road accidents, balcony incidents and heart attacks. Meanwhile Malaga has seen a 45% increase over the last year alone.


Jeremy Browne, Minister for Consular Services, said: “Whilst the prospect of ending up in a foreign hospital may be the last thing on your mind as you head overseas for a summer break, sometimes things do go wrong on holiday and many people deeply regret not taking out comprehensive travel insurance. 


“We also witness many cases where people have invalidated their policy – perhaps by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition or not checking their policy covers a particular activity, such as hiring a moped. Unfortunately they are then surprised that the Foreign Office cannot pay for their bills and flight home.


“I urge anyone heading overseas this summer to research their destination, take out comprehensive travel insurance, and carefully check the small print of their policy.”


New research by the Foreign Office reveals that nearly half (48%) of all Brits fail to realise that without travel insurance they will have to pay their own medical bills if injured or taken ill abroad.


An emergency can be extremely expensive - medical treatment can cost thousands of pounds, whilst medical repatriation to the UK can cost even more.  Consular staff in Spain have witnessed distressing cases involving families having to raise vast sums of money to pay hospital and repatriation bills.


The research also reveals that nearly four out of five (78%) people would lack the ready cash to pay £10,000 to cover the hospital bills of an uninsured loved one abroad.


Visitors to Spain, and British residents who may be hosting them, should remember three key things: 

·         Buy comprehensive travel insurance – avoid a life-changing bill

·         Read the small print – don’t invalidate your policy by mistake  

·         Get an EHIC card – it’s a ‘holiday essential’ for any state medical treatment you might need while visiting, but it doesn’t cover everything.


A British Embassy spokesperson said: “An EHIC is free and simple to obtain. Getting one could save you a lot of grief. If you don’t have one, it could make a tricky situation even harder. Then buy travel insurance and for the cost of a meal in a restaurant you should be fully covered against expensive health-related bills and other risks. It’s not worth it to be without.”


The total number of consular assistance cases in Spain last year rose more than 8% to 5405 cases. These included 1105 hospitalisations (up 8%), 1909 arrests (up 9%) and 40 cases of rape or sexual assault (down 22%). Some 13.6 million Britons visited Spain last year and an estimated 800,000 Britons are resident here.




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24 Jul 2012 14:27 by steone Star rating in Santiago de la Riber.... 386 posts Send private message

As said you need to check the small print of your travel insurance. On some policies that look good in the headlines there is a clause that if you are in the Europe you must have an EHIC card even though it looks as if you have medical cover. These insurance companies will only pick up the costs of things that are not covered on the EHIC and maybe invalidate the policy altogether because YOU have broken a clause

Other ways of invalidating your travel insurance is to go jet skiing, paragliding, scuba diving etc. as these are some of the things companies call dangerous activities. Some companies will not cover you if you are drunk!!!

These are just a few of the reasons as to why Insurance companies do not pay out.

Other times you will not be covered with some companies are if you 'break' your holiday. i.e. if you go from Spain to U.K. have a few days there then fly to America.

One of the worst policies to take out are those sold by the travel company. Look at the price and examine the cover and then look around the market.

Before taking out any cover ask every stupid question you can think of and if the answers are what you like still read every word of the policy. Best advice is not to just go for the cheapest but to get one that covers your particular wants. Even better use a broker because if everything else goes wrong you can at least claim off the broker.


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31 Jul 2012 14:59 by elviriadreamer Star rating. 99 posts Send private message

elviriadreamer´s avatar

I will reiterate NEVER TAKE A POLICY FROM THE TRAVEL AGENT YOU BOOK THE HOLIDAY WITH!  In fact, I will go as far as to say, just like with any insurance you take out, when it comes to crunch time many will try not to pay.

I had a policy with Europ Assistance (via First Choice) with bells and whistles including repatriation and when I suffered a large subarachnoid brain haemorrhage in Turkey they REFUSED REPATRIATION AND THE LIFE SAVING BRAIN SURGERY I needed.

The consequences of this was 4 days after the first brain haemorrhage I then suffered a second bleed from another brain artery, brain herniation, loss of right eye, loss of lower limb use for two days. They finally repatriated me 8 days after the first bleed.

Luckily I regained my sight but I have been left with multi infarct dementia and a whole host of disabilities including a leaking brain artery that couldn't be repaired due to the delays in care and is a death sentence.

The horror of just being left to die in a foreign country by this company for 8 days will haunt me and my children forever. We will never get over it.

They refused to pay compensation and Irwin Mitchell Solicitors who were meant to fight my case dropped it two weeks after taking it on.

Our holiday was meant to be special...a treat for me and my children as my great gran had died.


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31 Jul 2012 16:51 by steone Star rating in Santiago de la Riber.... 386 posts Send private message


That was a terrible thing that happened to you in Turkey. Words fail me on the treatment, or more importantly the lack thereof, that you experienced. I hope that you have recovered from the ordeal.

You did not say  why Europ Assistance refused your claim, apart from them being absolute shysters. It is also interesting that the firm of solicitors you engaged also dropped the case. If the incident was fairly recent might I suggest that you contact, in no particular order, the F.S.A. or whichever body authorises Europ Assistance, A.B.T.A. as the regulator of First Choice (the sale of the policy) the B.B.C. Watchdog or similar program and the Law Society who govern the solicitor who dropped your case. There are plenty of solicitors out there who specialise in fighting cases like yours and you can get information about them again from the Law Society. As a last resort if you are happy that you are 100% right you can start a claim in the Small Claims Court. However you must understand that the maximum you can get from them is, I believe, £5,000. I wish you all the best.

Once again it is vitally important to ask all the relevant questions before you take out a policy and you need to have someone on your side ( a broker) and not just a travel adviser who will get commission without understanding what he/she is selling. Do you buy your fruit and veg from the undertaker or do you go to a greengrocer or supermarket? The same applies to from someone who specialises in it and not from a travel adviser......




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31 Jul 2012 20:34 by acer Star rating. 1415 posts Send private message

Travel insurance is no different from any other form of insurance you need to be honest and disclose any "material fact" (something that will affect the insurer's judgment/premium) and take time to ask a few questions.  I always put everything in writing, to reduce the chance of a misunderstanding.

Contrary to the alleged comment by Jeremy Browne, Minister for Consular Services, in reality these days there is not any "small print" as such in insurance policies - have a look, you won't find it in a UK policy.  He's living in the past as are some others on this thread.  Literally "small print does not exist, but reading and understanding some of the rambling text in a policy is not everyone's cup of tea, so involving a broker does no harm. 

The best deals for many people will be annual travel policies.  The ones I've seen that are sold by the UK banks are generally good value as are the leading personal lines insurers like Aviva (previously Norwich Union).

My experience is that British insurers are highly professional and the culture amongst most of them is to settle valid claims quickly.  I had a travel claim 3 months ago that was complex, so I phoned them and explained the circumstances and within 2 minutes or so they agreed in principle to pay in full once I provided all the documentation (booking confirmations, receipts, terms of business of the tour operator etc).  Having done so they paid in full less the excess within 24 hours direct to my bank account.

Over the years I've had several insurance claims, including a large property fire claim and each has been settled both in full and promptly with no surprises in a professional manner.  I do not understand why people often make these statements about insurers not paying, certainly not my experience, but I suspect that it's those who buy the cheapest without taking the trouble to make sure that the cover is right, or perhaps forget to disclose a pre-existing condition, or a conviction, or previous losses etc.

Generally it is a legal expectation that the policyholder will take reasonable precautions and where appropriate mitigate the loss.  There was a comment earlier in this thread about insurers requiring the individual to have an EHIC card.  I checked and my policy has no such exclusion, but I do hold one, which is surely a matter of commonsense.

So please let's get real - in the UK the insurance consumer has fantastic protection by the Ombudsman, the FSA and legislation, so there really is no reason to ever have a valid claim turned down.  In fact the UK insurance consumer is better protected than any other consumer - I defy anyone to tell me of a product or service where the consumer has better rights.  It's weird that the most important purchases of most people - houses and cars leave you far more exposed.  There is no "caveat emptor" in insurance, totally the reverse.  And I say this as a person who has never worked in personal lines insurance, nor do I have any shareholding in Aviva!

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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01 Aug 2012 03:08 by elviriadreamer Star rating. 99 posts Send private message

elviriadreamer´s avatar

Hi Steone/Acer

I certainly did not FAIL to highlight any pre-existing conditions. Little did I know, I was actually seriously ill from extremely high dose progesterone poisioning. I had declared my progesterone medication.

Just 13days before I flew, I was seen by a doctor in the UK who passed me as having a clean bill of health and fit to fly. SADLY she made a WRONG DIAGNOSIS and failed to diagnose impending stroke and give clot busting therapy (as did two docs before her) and I paid the price.

When I suffered the first bleed, a local doctor had me in hospital within 15minutes. At this stage clot busting therapy was needed. Sadly at the hospital they made a wrong diagnosis too and sent me away and I paid the price of ANOTHER MISDIAGNOSIS.

I was finally admitted the next day, nearly dead.

The reason Europ Assistance failed to act immediately is because THEY could NOT reach the GP surgery in the UK for 8days! Which in all honesty is a very poor, if not unbelievable excuse. I was only flown home when I was, due to pressure from the British Consulate, nothing else. MY VALID CLAIM WAS NOT REFUSED...THEY JUST DELAYED TREATMENT FOR AS LONG AS THEY COULD. I should of been operated on within 24hours in Turkey. I finally got operated on 14days after the first bleed back in the UK for FREE, so they only had to pay for the special air ambulance home.  

Considering 30% of subarachnoid haemorrhage patients die on the spot, a further 30% succumb within the next 30 days and the remaining 30% survive with disability weighed up against 400Turkish Lira (about £160 then) for a Turkish funeral or my children carrying an urn of ashes home for free on their flight...I can say the only thing involved was cost.

As there was so much negligence involved causing near death and permanent residual effects "the cover ups began and note fiddling" began.

Irwin Mitchell Head injury solicitors (London) dropped the cased based on untrue information contained within my notes.

It's all very simple. A catalogue of failings one after the other. 

Insurers don't mind paying up for a scratched knee or stolen camera BUT a case like mine involving brain injury, they will try to escape any way they can...SADLY!

THANK YOU for the small claims court advice...too late now and in all honesty £5,000 would be insulting. I was due millions based on other cases similar to mine.

I just hope no-one ever has to go through what I did. We did start a petition to try and stop insurers denying immediate care to stroke and heart attack patients BUT I had to close it. I GAVE THE EXCUSE "it wouldn't gain enough signatures". People close to me, know the real truth why it was closed! 

TAKE CARE OUT THERE...and remember, don't you dare have a stroke or heart attack on too could be left to die!



This message was last edited by elviriadreamer on 01/08/2012.

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04 Aug 2012 12:44 by fazeress Star rating. 74 posts Send private message

Hi Elviriadreamer,

What a horrific experience for you and your family!  I would never take out a holiday insurance simply because they're a rip off!  You can get good insurance (well you think it is!) for a lot less.  I've only ever had one experience (touch wood!) and that was in the states where I cracked a bone in my ankle.  I phoned my insurance company and they reimbursed everything when I returned with the receipts.  I hope to god that I never have to go through anything like you had to.  I am off to Turkey in a couple of weeks though so will surely think of you.  I will also be sure to check the small print a lot more thoroughly in future just in case.

I hope that you still have a good quality of life, albeit with a constant reminder of your ordeal.

Best wishes

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04 Aug 2012 13:11 by Marksfish Star rating in Vera, Almeria. 2575 posts Send private message

Marksfish´s avatar

 American Express gave us our best annual travel policy. We did have to use it a couple of times, but for nothing as drastic as the case already mentioned. My wife used a private clinic in Vera (having used her eHic in Huercal hospital). Amex paid out both claims within a week of making theclaim (again, they were smaller claims, so I can't say how they would behave in a high cost situation).


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04 Aug 2012 13:55 by acer Star rating. 1415 posts Send private message

Hi Fazeress,

Your posting is contradictory.  You say "travel insurance is a rip-off" you then you go on to say you had a claim when your insurance company paid everything when you gave them the receipts.  So what more do you want, or is it that you like saying things are a "rip-off" without good reason?

A couple of days ago I read through a Spanish household policy and wow it was mind blowing - not small print but very difficult to make sense of - it was clearly an English translation of a Spanish wording but extremely verbose - full of repetition and irrelevant clauses written in an appalling long winded fashion.  Perhaps more "mind numbing" than "mind blowing".

People waffle about "small print" but it simply doesn't exist in the UK market.  This hackneyed cliché has been a figment of the imagination for a long long time. 

IMHO as a generalism insurance is one of the professions that is in the "good guys" column.  Indeed I reckon most others deserve our respect also.  It is a matter of opinion but I'm not so sure about some solicitors, estate agents and banks where to be successful in those professions it is far better to be able to put your own interests first, without a conscience. 

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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04 Aug 2012 15:16 by fazeress Star rating. 74 posts Send private message

Hi acer,

My mistake, I meant to say that I would never take out insurance with a holiday company!  Always take out my own sourced on the internet.  Infact we take an Annual family plan as it works out so much cheaper!


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04 Aug 2012 16:46 by acer Star rating. 1415 posts Send private message

Hi Fazeress,

Quite understand - I believe that travel agents usually get 40% or so commission for selling "one off" travel insurance policies, so when you take out the other costs there's not a lot left in the kitty to pay claims. 

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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04 Aug 2012 17:07 by midasgold Star rating in Mijas.. 91 posts Send private message

Insurance companys are in business to MAKE MONEY.

Most will twist and turn rather than pay out.

People have the wrong idea on insurance - and should 

realise that  Arfur Daily would give them a better deal.

If lucky, there is another day.

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04 Aug 2012 21:35 by acer Star rating. 1415 posts Send private message

Midasgold, every business has to make money, or they would not be in business too long. 

Don't argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

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