Should I take out travel assistance insurance or not?
If you want to travel with peace of mind and guarantees, the answer is categorically yes. Once again, it is worth remembering that the cost of healthcare services is very high, particularly if they involve hospital admittance, surgery or transfer using ambulance planes. Embassies and Consulates do not have the resources to face up to all the health contingencies of their compatriots abroad.
Furthermore, the European health insurance card only gives access to services in public centres. Likewise, the medical care that is not included on the public healthcare portfolio or that is given in private centres must be paid for by the user.
What should be taken into account when taking out health insurance?
Read the policy’s contract, its clauses and the small print carefully to guarantee the services that will be received in the case of an incident.
Take into account that healthcare services are expensive. Repatriation using an air ambulance can cost around 50,000 euros; the journey on a scheduled flight on a stretcher accompanied by a doctor usually reaches 20,000 and hospital admittance rises to approximately 3,500 euros per day. Take out a policy with sufficient cover taking these costs into account, as well as the days that are going to be spent outside the country of origin.
Pay attention to the existence of exclusion periods, which services they affect and how long these periods are. This exclusion period can vary from one insurance company to another and it refers to the period after taking out the policy when the insured party is not entitled to receive any of the services included in the policy.
Be honest when indicating your condition of health and the existence of any possible illnesses prior to taking the policy out. Hiding this information could mean the cancellation of all or part of the commitment acquired with the insurance company, which in the case of an incidence could refuse to pay the expenses derived from this.
Be careful when taking out comprehensive travel insurance. Tourist packages that include insurance policies are often found that promise to pay for incidences of different types: theft or loss of luggage and personal belongings, cancellation of tickets, overbooking, accommodation problems and healthcare problems. Normally, the healthcare cover of these all-in-one policies is insufficient or full of small print and conditions that are virtually impossible to meet if the user were to require medical assistance.
In recent years, misleading practices by some companies have been detected, which offer health insurance for travellers in which they only provide insured party with a European health insurance card without specifying that this document only gives access to the healthcare services given by the public system. This irregular conduct means a two-fold deception: on the one hand, it charges the user for a potential medical care service to which they are entitled free of charge as a holder of a European health insurance card. On the other hand, it causes important economic damage if the insured party goes to a private healthcare centre and must pay the whole amount of the services received, since the European health insurance card is not valid in these centres.
Therefore, remember that the European health insurance card does not replace health insurance, as it only gives access to the public services and in order to receive medical care in a private centre the fees must be completely paid or managed through a health policy taken out before starting the journey.