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Travel & living abroad
Last updated at 17:37 (UK time) 28 Oct 2009

Medical health insurance

Arranging medical and health insurance is your responsibility!

If you don’t have it, you may have to pay thousands of pounds in medical costs if you fall ill or have an accident outside the UK.

Always arrange travel insurance with health cover that is adequate for your destination. Do this before you go.

The medical cover of your policy should be at least:

  • £1m for Europe
  • £2m for the rest of the world

Always examine the policy’s conditions and exclusions and talk to your insurer if in any doubt.

Get 24-hour emergency service cover

Take out a policy with a 24-hour emergency service.

Serious accidents or illness will all be managed by the assistance company. They will make any necessary arrangements and provide help and advice throughout the ordeal.

Mutual health agreements with other countries

The UK has mutual health care agreements with many countries, but these arrangements do NOT cover all the expenses you can incur:

  • cost of relatives flying out (and back)
  • accommodation for relatives
  • bringing you back to the UK
  • treatment in a country without a mutual agreement – in an emergency you may be taken across a border to be treated.

A good travel insurance policy will cover these costs.

The Department of Health website explains the level of free or reduced-cost emergency medical cover you can expect in each country.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Always declare any current or past medical conditions you think might affect the cover. You may not be covered by your policy if you don’t.

Look for a specialist travel insurance policy if a standard policy does not cover you because of a medical condition.

An independent insurance intermediary should be able to find a policy suitable to your needs.

Find a specialist insurance broker in your area on the British Insurance Brokers Association website.

Other healthcare cover

Some credit cards provide health insurance for travellers, but this may not be adequate for your needs.

Private health care may also provide some cover. Talk to your insurer and take out extra cover, if necessary.

See also

Useful links

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