A DAD was this week stranded in a foreign hospital following a brain haemorrhage – as his insurer refused to pay up because he’d had a drink.
David Poole, 64, is racking up thousands of pounds in medical bills in Turkey after falling during an afternoon walk.
He and wife Diane, 58, of Water Orton, Warks, were holidaying in Marmaris.
It is not known why he fell or what caused the bleed on his brain but insurer Rock has refused to pay his medical bills because doctors found alcohol in his blood.
He was a little over the drink-driving limit. His son Stuart, 33, thinks he’d only had one or two beers and blasted Rock Insurance’s decision.
Stuart said: “It shows a lack of compassion or common sense.
“We want people to be aware how wishy-washy travel firms are over their alcohol policies.”
The family are planning to appeal to the insurer. If they lose, they face paying for David’s treatment.
Experts are warning that having just one drink invalidates your policy if you have an accident.
But that’s not the only way you can be caught out by travel insurance.
Here we reveal some of the pitfalls you should try to avoid for your next trip abroad.
LOOK FOR THE POLICY PITFALLS
DON’T DELAY. One in five people risks the entire cost of their holiday by leaving their travel cover to the last minute, according to insurer Allianz Assistance.
The most common reason for cancelling is death, serious accident or injury. Other reasons include burglary and redundancy.
Get a policy straight after booking in case of any disaster before you go away.
But beware — the cover on offer from your travel operator might not have enough protection.
DON’T AUTOMATICALLY GET THE CHEAPEST. Intense competition means policies cost less than ever but the very cheapest have a raft of loopholes and their overall limits will not cover much.
TravelSuperMarket recommends £2million for medical expenses, £1million personal liability, £1,500 for baggage and £3,000 or the total cost of the holiday for cancellations. The excesses should be under £100.
For a family of four’s seven-night trip to Spain, multitrip.com’s basic policy is £11. But coverage is only £1,100 for baggage and £1,000 cancellation cover.
Spend another tenner for the firm’s premier policy and you get the recommended protection.
BE HONEST. If you have ever suffered from depression or had cancer, asthma or high blood pressure, you need to declare it.
You risk not getting a payout if you keep quiet.
Other illnesses are unlikely to need declaring if you have not had them recently. If in doubt, check with your insurer.
Earlier this year, Maxine Howell, from West Bromwich, caught pneumonia and bronchiolitis while celebrating her 50th birthday in Cancun, Mexico. Her insurer Axa refused to pay her bills because she had not disclosed a past inhaler prescription. Her family say although she had been prescribed one, she never used it.
CHECK THE GEOGRAPHY. Some European policies do not cover Spain. You have to select “Europe with Spain” and pay extra.
Even more confusingly, some insurers cover non-European countries on a European policy.
If you are going to Egypt, Morocco, Turkey or Tunisia, get a quote for European cover first, then check to see if your destination is included. It might be.
GADGETS NOT INCLUDED. Many travel insurances will not include gadget cover, so look at add-on extensions to the policy or check if your home insurance covers them. Alternatively, take out a separate gadget policy.
Also check the excess you would have to pay. If you claim for a £400 phone and the excess is £50, you only get £350 back.
BE AWARE OF ACTIVITIES. Swimming with dolphins, pony riding, volleyball, cycling, scuba diving and zip-lining are not always covered. Columbus Direct says someone injured without the right cover pays £1,700 on average. Last year, backpacker Sophie Wilson, 24, of Shepshed, Leics, broke her neck diving into a pool in Thailand. She was refused cover by her insurer InsureandGo due to “reckless behaviour”.
She failed to see a “no diving” sign at the bar’s pool, as it was late at night.
DON’T RELY ON AN EHIC. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you access to state-provided healthcare during a holiday to another European Economic Area country or Switzerland. This is free if that country does not charge its residents.
But it does not cover private medical care, the cost of being flown back to the UK or holiday cancellations.
OUR TOP TIPS
- IF you have two holidays a year it is worth getting an annual policy rather than pay for single trips, Money Saving Expert advises.
- Make sure you have flight cancellation cover – airlines such as Ryanair often try to wriggle out of payouts.
- Get “end supplier failure” cover if you are not travelling on an ATOL-backed package holiday. You will need it if your hotel or travel company cancels on you.
- Many travel insurance policies do not cover cruises or skiing as standard.
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