How to Handle a Medical Emergency While

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How to Handle a Medical Emergency While Travelling and The Importance Of Choosing The Right Insurance


We hope we will never need it, and most people hate to spend money on it, but the right travel insurance is crucial in the unlikely event that a medical emergency occurs while we are travelling abroad.

From the fairly innocuous to the downright fatal; accidents and emergencies occur every day all around the world, and if you are far from home then you will be thankful you spent the time researching the best medical insurance policy for your particular travel situation.  The reason it is essential to do your research is that without the right cover, the insurance will not be beneficial.  Most private medical cover, covers inpatient, outpatient, accommodation and certain drugs, but most will not offer long-term treatment for illnesses such as asthma or kidney dialysis, or those dealing with drug abuse. There may also be a limit on medical insurance for high-risk countries, which are those which come with travel warnings, or if there is a country-wide health warning in place at the time of your journey, so personalizing your insurance to your needs is crucial to ensure you get the most out of it and do not find yourself stranded with a substantial medical bill.

Where to Start

The European Health Insurance Card, which can be obtained either online or from your local post office, is worth purchasing to run alongside your travel insurance policy as it can cover certain medical costs at specific hospitals and in certain countries in and beyond Europe.

In essence, it is a reciprocal agreement between the UK and other countries, and by presenting the European Health Insurance Card at a hospital or clinic, you will be charged the equivalent cost of care as the locals. In other words, if they are given free treatment then you will also, and if they are charged, then so shall you be.  Upon showing your card, you will have access to emergency care wherever you are in the world which accepts this form of insurance card, but it is not foolproof, and a more extensive form of insurance is also required, along with putting in place some simple arrangements before you leave.

How to Pre-Empt a Medical Emergency

  • Research the local emergency numbers for the country you are travelling to before you go away and if in doubt, carry your insurance company’s phone number with you at all times and call them as they should provide you with a 24 hour, reverse charge helpline.
  • Either carry a card with the words requesting help written on it written in the local language, or else learn how to ask for help whether that is “call the ambulance/police” or “Please help me”.
  • Prepare for the country you are travelling to. If you are planning on travelling to a country which puts you at risk of potentially fatal illnesses such as malaria, then you can pre-plan for the trip by purchasing anti-malaria’s which you begin taking before you leave, as well as each day during the trip and for a minimum of 7 days once you return home.  If this is a potential risk to you, then speak to the health and travel specialists at Click Pharmacy about what you can do to keep yourself safe.

Once a Medical Emergency has Occurred

A medical emergency can come in any shape or form, from an attack, an injury or accident of some kind, to a bite or sting from a poisonous or harmful animal or insect, and some of the most common medical emergencies include epileptic seizures, heart attacks, breathing issues and strokes.   If any kind of health concern or injury occurs while you are away, then the first thing to do is to get help right away in any way possible, including simply shouting for help if you can, and if it is a friend who needs care, then running to get support from someone nearby.

If there is no one around, then, either call your insurers for help or if you can, get to a clinic or hospital right away making sure that you are carrying your medical insurance card or documents to present to the doctors upon arrival.

If you are in a stable physical or mental state and there is no excellent emergency, then it may be wise to call your embassy for guidance on where it is best to go.  As in any country, some hospitals are better than others, so it is sensible to find the one with the highest standards.

What to Look Out For

When you are searching for medical emergency insurance, the standard aspects to look for include:

  • A 24-hour helpline
  • A £1 million cover for European medical expenses
  • A £2 million cover for countries outside of Europe
  • Within this cover, confirm that it covers treatments, travel and accommodation for you and the person accompanying you if necessary.
  • It is also worth checking that it covers repatriation should the worst happen while you are away.

It is also worth knowing that, if you are travelling into the UK from another country, then there are several private medical insurance options.  Indemnity policies pay for the cost of private medical treatment for an acute injury or illness.  Cash plans offer a single lump sum, and in the case of a long-term hospital stay, you will pay a monthly amount.

Don’t Get Stuck With the Bill

Medical insurance is hugely beneficial to any traveler as it proves to a hospital or clinic that you have the funds to pay for their medical intervention and resources if and when needed.  Without it, and even though the doctors must, under the Emergency Medical Treatment And Labor Act, care for “any individual with an emergency medical condition, regardless of the individual’s insurance coverage…”, the treatment will still need to be paid for, and without insurance, the weight of that debt lands on the shoulders of the injured party.

The world of emergency medical insurance is wide and varied, and it can be personalized to your exact requirements, health concerns and risks, but it can also cover unexpected accidents and injuries, so do take the time to find the most beneficial insurance cover for you and your travelling needs.

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