Though it is unthinkable that we can be injured or taken ill while on holiday it can and does happen. This guide provides information and outlines measures you should take before and during your trip to ensure disruption through illness or injury is kept to a minimum.
Before you Travel
Step 1 – Gather information
Before you travel you should check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. This has country specific information which covers aspects such as climate, what type of vaccinations you need, local laws and customs, crime, political situation, and information on terrorism.
Bear in mind that some countries have a hurricane season and ideally you should plan your trip outside of this time.
Step 2 – Vaccinations and Health
Unlike the UK many countries in hotter climates are prone to certain types of diseases which we need to be vaccinated against.
The National Travel and Health Network Centre (NATHNAC) website outlines what diseases can be curbed with a vaccine. It also outlines what diseases cannot be prevented through vaccination, and has other useful health information.
Another useful resource is the NHS. Some countries have reciprocal health care agreements with the NHS which means that should you need health care while abroad, you may be able to get it for free or at a reduced cost.
It is worth remembering that the care may not be as comprehensive under this scheme as healthcare in the UK, and so travel insurance is still a necessity where a reciprocal health care agreement applies.
Nonetheless, it is worth taking note of whether you are covered under the agreement abroad.
Step 3 – Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance is a necessity and there are several types of policies to cover you while abroad, and you should choose one which meets your circumstances. It is important to tell the travel insurance company precisely what you are planning to do so the appropriate cover can be arranged.
Always check what you are covered for and if any excess applies to the policy. It is advisable to check if it covers the cost of flying you home should you be hospitalised. As a rule of thumb, buy the most comprehensive cover you can afford.
In addition to travel insurance and you are travelling to a European country, it is advisable to obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC will ensure you are treated like a national in the country you where you were taken ill, and cover some of the cost of treatment. As it probably won’t cover your costs completely, it is advisable to take out travel insurance in addition to the EHIC.
Step 4 – British Embassy Information
Take a note of the address and contact number of the British Embassy in the country or countries you are visiting. If you are hospitalised you will need to call this number so they can notify your family.
If You are Taken Ill While on Holiday
Step – 1 Notify Someone in Authority
If you are taken ill while on holiday and it is the fault of the hotel and you have travelled as part of a tour operator, the first step is to notify someone in authority. Under the Package Travel Regulations they are responsible for your welfare and the representative of the tour operator company should be notified at once.
If you are not part of a tour operator, you are not covered under the Package Travel Regulations and subsequently you will need to find medical assistance yourself. If you are staying at a hotel, they may well have the details of a local doctor who you can see.
Whether you are covered under the Package Travel Regulations are not, you will probably have to pay upfront to see a doctor.
Step – 2 Seeing the Doctor
If your illness has not hospitalised you, you should be able to see a hotel or local doctor. If you have travelled with a tour operator, the representative of the company should arrange this or at least pass on contact details.
Step – 3 The rest of the holiday
Depending on the treatment the doctor proscribes and the severity of your symptoms, your holiday will probably be curtailed in some way.
If you have travelled as part of a tour, and the illness is the fault of the hotel you may be able to claim compensation if you can prove the hotel was negligent in looking after your welfare. It is also possible to claim for loss of enjoyment and any medical bills incurred.
To that end is worth keeping all receipts related to your medical expenses together with receipts of excursions which you have paid for but could not attend as a result of your illness.
Again, if you are not part of a tour you will not be able to claim compensation unless you can prove there was a responsible party who acted negligently towards you, and this resulted in your illness. If you feel you can, and then keep all medical and lost excursion receipts.
Step 4 – Notify your Travel Insurance Company
Travel insurance companies should provide guidance on what to do should you need to claim against the policy. Follow their instructions to the letter. Many ask that you complete a claim form and provide supporting documentation retrospectively.
If you have an Accident While on Holiday
If you have an accident while on holiday try and perform the following:
- Report the accident to someone in authority. This may be your tour operator representative or someone like a hotel manager. It could be the police.
- If an accident book is available (most hotels will have one ) then ensure the details of the accident are recorded
- If there are any witnesses, try and take their contact details
- To provide evidence of what happened, take photographs highlighting any damage that may have occurred.
- Record dates of visits to clinics, doctors, hospitals, and any days which were affected because of the accident. You may well have missed an excursion or had to pay for transportation to hospital.
Regardless of your insurance you will probably have to pay for the cost of your medical treatment in the first instance. If you have an EHIC and are in Europe, or the country is subject to the reciprocal health care agreement, you may see a reduced cost to the amount you have to pay upfront.
If you can prove negligence on the part of a hotel, and are part of a tour, the Package Travel Regulations apply and you should keep all necessary receipts.
If you have been hospitalized either due to illness or injury the chances are you will have to pay upfront for your treatment. If your stay is going to be for some time, you should check your travel insurance to see if it covers you for a flight back home.
If you have been hospitalized one of the first things you should do is contact the your Embassy. Once contacted, they will see you within 24 hours and they will contact family and friends on your behalf in your country, as well as speaking to your travel insurance company. A representative of the your Embassy will visit you within 48 hours if needed.
There are specialist injury solicitors who will act on your behalf to claim for the inconvenience and loss you may have suffered as a result of your illness or injury while on holiday. Some of these operate on a no win no fee basis, such as <a href=”www.claims4free.co.uk/injury-lawyers.php”>claims 4 free</a> and it is worth discussing your experience with them to see if you can claim compensation.
Hopefully, you will not need to use travel insurance and related services while on a trip, but ensuring you have all the information and insurances in place can help you considerably should something go wrong.
Package Travel Regulations http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1992/3288/contents/made
Foreign and Commonwealth Office http://www.fco.gov.uk
National Travel and Health Network and Centre (NATHNAC) http://www.nathnac.org/index.htm
NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/countryguide/NonEEAcountries/Pages/Non-EEAcountries.aspx
European Health Insurance Card Application https://www.apply-ehic.org/index.php
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