Holidaymakers 'taking risks over travel cover'
Holidaymakers are taking huge risks by not buying adequate travel insurance, a financial expert has warned.
Families are leaving themselves financially exposed by having no travel cover in place or by having inadequate insurance.
Many holidaymakers rely on the fact they have health insurance, but this often does not cover them for claims if they have problems while abroad, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.
Some health insurance policies have no cover for foreign travel at all. Many people under-insure which means they will have no cover in the event of a claim, he said.
Mr Goode warned medical treatment outside Ireland can be even more expensive than here.
Most private hospitals abroad look for evidence of travel cover or seek a deposit on a credit card before they will treat a visitor.
"A deposit of between €1,500 and €2,500 is not unusual and you can expect to pay between €750 and €1,000 per day depending on the hospital and the medical treatment required," he said.
It can cost up to €30,000 for knee surgery in the UK.
Some consumers rely on the limited cover on their health insurance plan for emergency medical treatment while abroad, but this may not be sufficient, Mr Goode said.
Last year alone there were 219,000 holidays to the US and Canada, according to the Central Statistics Office. The US is one of the most expensive countries in the world for medical care.
"Comprehensive cover when travelling to the US is an absolute must," he added.
Mr Goode said holidaymakers with a pre-existing medical condition need to be careful.
"If you don't have health insurance in place, many travel policies will exclude any conditions that have been treated for in the past 18 to 24 months."
Large numbers of travellers under-insure.
They may be away for longer than is covered on their policy. Others do not realise that hazardous sports, such as bungee jumping, may be excluded on their policy.
"While travel insurance is important cover, the devil is always in the detail and many consumers still get caught out as they don't check everything in advance.
"You have to understand that a policy that costs €75 for the family for the year which covers you up to €5m for medical expenses is going to have restrictions."
Mr Goode said the golden rule is you must contact your travel insurer and your health insurer prior to travelling to double-check what is covered.
He said holidaymakers need to check if there are any pre-existing exclusions on the policy. Also, check if there is an excess that you need to be aware of before travelling. An excess is the amount you have to pay before travelling. Dental cover is often limited on travel policies and may only apply in emergencies.
Most policies are designed to cover hospital admissions only. This means that if you are treated in an A&E facility, but not admitted to the hospital, you could run up a sizeable bill which you will be expected to pay first, Mr Goode said.