- Most travel insurance policies do not cover private clinics and hospitals
- Travel insurers are warning tourists that they may be sent for private treatment
- Hotels and resorts in Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey have been singled out
- It’s possible Brexit may affect UK citizens’ entitlement to use an EHIC in future
Holidaymakers risk being stung for thousands of pounds if they fall ill or are injured abroad this summer even if they have travel insurance – all because they are sent to the wrong hospital.
Travel insurers are warning tourists that many hotels and resorts, especially in Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, automatically send guests to private hospitals when they have an accident or need treatment. This is because they receive a referral fee from the hospital.
But most travel insurance policies – including those from major providers such as Columbus Direct, the Post Office, Thomas Cook and Insure and Go – do not cover treatment in private clinics and hospitals.
Travel insurers are warning tourists that they may be sent automatically for private treatment
Emergency treatment may be allowed for at these facilities, but insurers typically demand to be informed of the incident immediately, and may insist the patient moves to a state-run hospital, where treatment is cheaper.
Some policies spell out that travellers are not covered at a private hospital if state-run healthcare is closer. The European Health Insurance Card – known as the EHIC – also does not cover costs incurred at private hospitals (see right).
The dilemma for tourists who are suddenly taken ill or have an accident is that many do not know which hospitals are private or public. It is likely to be the hotel that calls the doctor or ambulance in an emergency, meaning the decision is out of their hands.