If you are travelling abroad you should check, in advance, that you are covered by insurance if you fall ill or have an accident. Many countries do not have free health treatment and if they do it may differ from the service offered by the NHS. Before travelling you need to find out precisely what insurance you need in case of an accident and make sure you are adequately covered.
Do your research
Before you travel, check the health care system in the country you are visiting. You need to find out what treatment would be provided and whether you would need to pay for it. You should also check if you need any vaccinations and whether donated blood supplies are screened for HIV and other blood-borne diseases in case you need a transfusion. If you are travelling within the European Union you will be entitled to free health care, but you must be in possession of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). They are provided free, so be sure to apply for yours well in advance of travelling and carry it with you at all times.
Make sure you know the emergency number used in the country or countries you are visiting and program it into your phone. The EHIC card does not cover the cost of repatriating you if you are seriously ill or injured and should not be used as a replacement for travel insurance; it is vital that you are properly covered. If you are involved in an accident whilst you are abroad and suspect it was due to negligence, then photograph any evidence that you feel may be relevant and contact us at Accident Advice Helpline on your return to the UK, or whilst you are still abroad if you experience serious problems and need help right away.
Cover for sports injuries abroad
Sporting injuries are quite common for holidaymakers who often try activities they have little or no previous experience of. If you plan to try a new sport or sports whilst on holiday, make sure your insurance policy covers you in the event of an accident and take the following precautions to stay safe:
- When skiing, stay within your abilities. Do not try and take on slopes that are above your skill level. Take note of warnings about weather conditions and do not leave the marked slopes unless you have a guide or are extremely experienced.
- If you are planning to go scuba diving for the first time, take a course of training in the UK before you leave for your holiday. Always dive with qualified instructors or an experienced buddy and heed local warnings about potential bad weather.
- Water sports can be dangerous. The sea, rivers and lakes can all be hazardous. Be aware that cold water can cause hypothermia very quickly and currents can take even the strongest swimmer by surprise. Pay attention to warnings on the shore and make sure you know what the local system of flags is.
The law has changed and travellers in Europe who are injured in an accident are no longer entitled to the level of compensation they might expect to receive in the UK. Instead, they will be compensated according to the regulations in the country where the injury took place, which in many cases will be significantly less. It is therefore essential that you are properly insured before travelling and that, if an accident does occur, you contact your insurance company as soon as you need to be treated. This is the only way to ensure all your costs will be covered. Call Accident Advice Helpline free on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile phone for free, no obligation advice about making a claim.