By Dave Smith
Travelling abroad is a common feature of leisure and business life, and it’s easy to forget the need for protection in case something goes wrong. The best safeguard is to take out travel insurance before departure, and to make sure that it covers exactly what is required.
It can be tempting to try to save money on the basis that nothing untoward has happened on previous trips away, but this could turn out to be a very costly mistake. The major risk area is usually health, and medical treatment can be extremely expensive, especially in certain countries. Other items are flight or tour cancellation, delays, theft of possessions, loss of luggage, or the travel company going out of business.
Nobody likes to think about accidents or illnesses occurring on a holiday or business trip, but even minor medical problems can prove to be expensive in the absence of an insurance policy. One only needs to consider winter sports holidays, with their heightened risk of injury, serious or otherwise, on the ski slopes. Taking out a travel insurance policy at least gives additional peace of mind.
Some countries have enormously costly health care systems, particularly the USA and Canada, and bills can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Comprehensive insurance cover is essential for travel to these regions. If anything goes amiss with medical treatment received, insurance cover becomes an absolute necessity so that medical negligence lawyers can take up the case.
Travelling to parts of Asia or Africa may cause problems with illnesses that are uncommon in Western nations, so it is sensible to check the terms and conditions of a policy before departure. There should be no confusion over what services are available and what costs will be covered.
If a traveller’s condition is so bad that he or she has to be medically repatriated from another country, this is a highly expensive procedure that can include the costs of an air ambulance, and possibly a nurse or doctor. If clinical negligence issues arise, the services of a legal firm will be necessary.
Cancellations and Delays
Always check a travel policy carefully to ensure it covers what is necessary for all members of a party. Airlines have legal obligations if they cancel or amend flights, but if one or more travellers cancels a trip, or is delayed, the policy should make it clear as to what can – and what cannot – be claimed.
Luggage and Possessions
Travelling could involve carrying a few thousand pounds’ worth of luggage and valuables, possibly including jewellery, cash or electronic equipment. It’s important to check that the insurance policy provides enough to cover a complete loss; compensation limits can usually be increased via payment of a small surcharge.
Making a Claim
If a mishap occurs during the trip, the most important thing to do is to contact the insurance company immediately. Its job is to handle all the legal aspects of a claim, and to deal with organisations or individuals that may be liable. Be sure to obtain any official documentation, such as police or medical reports, to substantiate your circumstances – since the correct paperwork will always speed up the settlement of an insurance claim.