Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Going abroad for dentistry and cosmetic or minor surgery is increasingly popular, but your travel insurance won't help if it all goes wrong.
The health tourism industry is growing by 30% each year, as breast implants, heart surgery and hip replacements cost between 20% and 50% less overseas than private treatment in the UK.
But if you go abroad for medical treatment, then you may not be covered for a claim under your travel policy.
Any complications arising from the surgery, the cost of a new flight because you were hospitalised for longer than expected or missing your appointment because of flight delays are not covered under standard travel policies.
But it is not just claims arising from your treatment that can be turned down. Most travellers do not realise that they might not be able to claim for lost luggage, theft or an accident if they did not reveal that the purpose of their trip is to have treatment. Some insurers won't issue travel policies for these trips.
Insurance broker Marcus Hearn has brought out a special travel insurance policy that will provide cover for health tourists. A week's single-trip policy to Europe costs £17.90, rising with your age. It is unavailable for the over-70s.
But even this policy will extend only to the non-medical elements of your insurance: any claim in connection with the medical condition for which you are travelling will be excluded.
Marcus Hearn managing director Jeffrey Klipp says: 'It simply doesn't occur to people that they may not be covered under their existing travel policy. And the consequences could be very costly.'
Research by the Post Office, the largest independent travel insurer, reveals that over a third of those who had travelled abroad for cosmetic or elective surgery failed to check if their insurance policy covered them.
The findings highlight the growing trend of people looking for lower cost treatments abroad - 126,000 Britons are expected to travel overseas for medical procedures this year. India is currently the top destination, closely followed by Hungary, Turkey, Malaysia and Spain.
The Post Office and Saga would pay out for lost baggage or delayed flights and cancellations, but not for claims relating to the medical treatment.
All travel policies are invalidated if you do not declare pre-existing medical conditions - though you can find policies that will cover existing illnesses for a premium.
You should always check the position with your travel insurer before going abroad for treatment.
Posted by Directory Insurance at 5:17 PM