Gap year medical claims have doubled in two years

By | Category: Travel news

The average cost of backpacker medical claims has increased from £370 to £750 in last two years, according to research by travel insurance company, Columbus Direct. This follows the recent announcement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) which found that one-in-four of 16–24-year-olds travelled without insurance and only a quarter made health-related preparations before going overseas.

Alarmingly, 26 per cent of British travellers in Europe also believe the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover costs to get them home if they fall ill. A further 21 per cent believe that the UK government will be there to cover their bills if something goes wrong.

It is also worrying to see that so many people do not understand exactly how the EHIC card works. Each country’s healthcare system is different and therefore will not cover everything that would be free on the NHS. Many countries rely on private clinics to support overstretched and underfunded state health systems and provide medical treatment to overseas visitors. As such, the EHIC may often not apply, especially in more remote areas such as ski resorts, and travellers will need to pay for their treatment. The EHIC will also not cover the costs to get you home, unlike travel insurance.

It is not just the cost of their health that backpacking or gap year travellers should be worried about. With the increase in expensive gadgets such as iPads, laptops and smart phones, many are travelling with these types of personal effects and need to be prepared for the cost if they are lost or stolen.”

With the above in mind, we asked Columbus for their top tips on backpacker travel insurance:

· Check that all the destinations that you are travelling to, or through, are covered

· Check that your policy duration includes a contingency for any interconnecting delay

· Ensure that the policy covers any known sports and activities but also ensure you know how to get in contact if you suddenly decide to go bungee jumping

· Always disclose any current or pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer. If you don’t, it could affect your claim.

· Check the valuables limit and ensure you have adequate cover for any valuable items you are taking with you such as watches, cameras or tablets etc

· If you’re travelling within Europe, apply for a free EHIC which entitles you to some reduced or free emergency care – but you will still need travel insurance.

· Always keep a copy of your insurance policy details with you and saved in your secure email account as back-up. Keep any paperwork, such as tickets, receipts, medical bills, police reports in case anything goes wrong

· Be aware that if the incident occurred while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol your claim could be refused

· Make sure you have the name of your insurance company and the 24-hour international emergency telephone number on you at all times

· Check the FCO website www.fco.gov.uk/travel for country-specific advice. If you go to an area which the FCO advises against travel to, your travel insurance is unlikely to be valid

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