Travel insurance for visitors to Andalucía
With the continuing changes in social security regulations across Europe and its neighbours, your situation as a visitor to Andalucía deserves clarification. Residents of EU countries and participating neighbour countries are covered by the reciprocal health care agreements struck by these countries. There are, however, some qualifications worth considering if planning a holiday or short-term visit here.
Spain’s health system is one of the best in Europe, but these systems differ from country to country. It is common in Spain, for example, to pay for medications prescribed by a doctor, unless you qualify for assistance due to retirement or low income, in which case some services are free. Even if you travel with the new EHIC form, which replaced the now-defunct E-111 form in January 2006, you may still be required to pay for part of any treatment. Few EU countries cover the full cost of medical treatment in the EU and participating countries in the EHIC system. The EHIC form is available from post offices and travel agencies.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises that anyone travelling outside Britain, even on a short stay abroad, should buy travel insurance to cover their journey.
The same applies to visitors from other EU states and states outside it. Authorities in each member country can advise on how their system differs from Spain or any other destination, and how you can cover that difference. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (www.fco.gov.uk) gives numerous examples of how much some medical services may cost you. One extreme example not covered by the EHIC form is emergency air repatriation, which, entirely extra to any medical bills, can cost from between £800-6,000 or more (a startling £35,000 from the USA to Europe).
Travel agencies, insurance companies and credit card companies all offer travel insurance, and with some credit cards you will be automatically covered, but to a limited degree, when you buy travel services using their credit card. It is easy but vital to check the extent of your coverage, as a minor accident can soon need outpatient treatment, an X-ray or specialist consultation, say, that can start to cost you money.
High-risk activities such as certain watersports, adventure holidays or skiing require specialist insurance advice, readily available from all good activity operators, but not necessarily available on a beach, in a ski resort or in mountaineering country. Nor do you need to strain yourself to encounter the need for insurance cover: the FCO’s Top Five most common places to risk accident are:
- remote locations
- ski slopes
The commonest form of accident across the Mediterranean is probably a tumble from a poorly-maintained rented scooter, which, depending on the circumstances, could start to require the costly treatments outlined above.
Cancellation, delay, loss of luggage, theft
All insurance policies cover these to various degrees, and purchase of travel services using some credit cards comes with automatic cover. It is fair to say, however, that by the time these carefully worded clauses apply to your circumstance – luggage re-routed elsewhere requiring you to buy clothes, for example – your journey will already have been affected, possibly ruined.
It is worth checking your existing home insurance policies, as many of these will also cover travelling with property – clothing, toiletries (shavers, hairdryers, etc), jewellery, luggage, personal or professional electronics such as iPods or laptop computers, anything you might reasonably be expected to want to leave home with. You should also check the circumstances in which these will be covered – security on jewellery and credit cards, for example, or that ideal early Xmas present for snatch thieves anywhere, the wireless laptop – and where they are not.
Wherever you travel, if you are the victim of theft it is vital that you or someone who can speak for you contact the police. Local police crime reports are an essential requirement for making an insurance claim. Local police, hotel staff, and even those with no duty of care during your visit to their community will often go out of their way to help a visitor.
Despite the uncertainty of taking your health or your property to another country, some sixty million Britons a year join the millions of others also travelling in Europe and beyond without anything untoward happening to them. Travel insurance is something every traveller should consider automatically. All it costs is the equivalent of one night’s sleep in a mid-range hotel in your destination. ¡Buen viaje!