Boring! The tedious side of getting ready for a trip.
Another of those boring essentials is travel insurance. We have EHIC (the old E111) cards but, as few people realise, they don’t provide the kind of medical cover we might need. An EHIC card will only cover us for the same level of free medical treatment that citizens of that country receive. So that means no repatriation, no special treatment, no free non-urgent treatment if you fall ill.
Let’s also face it, accidents do happen. Last year on a trip to the Outer Hebrides daughter number one, Maggie, fell off some monkey bars about five minutes after we had reached our final destination, Eoropie on the Isle of lewis, and suffered a green stick fracture to her arm. Off to hospital we went for a patch up. It was minor but it changed our holiday, as Maggie, whilst proud to have a plaster cast, soon realised that she couldn’t surf, swim, ride her bike or jump off stuff. I daresay it could have been worse. That's her above, making the most of it.
Hence my mystery shopping. I have been looking for travel insurance to compare with the policies offered by one of my clients, World First Travel Insurance. It might seem like a standard thing to do, but for us (and for lots of other people with medical ‘baggage’) it’s different. We have medical conditions to declare. My wife, Jo, was ill with Ulcerative Colitis a few years ago and still takes medication as a result of the condition. Maggie had leukaemia as a baby. Whilst she has been in remission for 8 years we still have to declare it because, if we didn’t and she got ill as a result of that, we’d find our cover would be useless. It’s the same for Jo. If we didn’t declare her condition, our cover would be invalid. It isn’t worth the risk.
That means that ‘normal’ policies, from companies like Columbus Direct, become expensive, whilst others won’t cover us at all. We went for Columbus’ top policy for four of us, for 70 days away, with all the knobs and whistles including delay, baggage, curtailment etc and it came to £190. I thought that was pretty reasonable. Then I declared the medical conditions and the cost jumped to £340. This is for conditions that are ‘cured’ so I can only imagine what kind of a hike the price would take if I was undergoing treatment for a condition like cancer or was over 70. The Post Office wouldn’t cover Ulcerative Colitis at all.
Time then, to look to the specialists, namely our old friends at World First Travel Insurance. I know them well but even so, wanted to benchmark their policy costs for our trip against others. First of all they accepted the medical conditions, then offered us a policy including £5 million medical cover, baggage cover and cancellation cover at £239 with all conditions covered. So that’s that then - the client comes good with a low cost answer. Phew.
Next job: packing
And don't forget.... We are still looking for brilliant suggestions for places to stay, eat and play. Our route is the Atlantic Coast, with our final destination somewhere in Galicia. Over to you. Answers on a postcard....