Fresh reports of travellers left with huge medical bills have again highlighted the perennial problem of people purchasing insurance but not understanding what it covers.
So says a recent issue of the trade newspaper International Travel & Health Insurance Journal (ITIJ), which quotes the case of an Australian woman detained in a Thailand private hospital pending payment of more than AU$52,000 in medical bills.
The woman had been hospitalised after suffering severe injuries in a moped crash. She had been declared fit to fly home after treatment including surgery, but the hospital would not release her until the bills were paid.
Ironically, the woman had travel insurance, but it did not cover the riding of motorcycles.
Michael Pettifer, Managing Director of MPI Brokers, says the woman’s plight is a salutary warning to all travellers.
He says: “As one of the UK travel insurance providers covering motorbike riding, I can safely say that we would have looked sympathetically at the woman’s claim, if she had bought one of our policies.
“However, a rider must wear a helmet and the driver must hold a licence valid in that particular country. There is no liability cover as this falls under the vehicle insurance.
“More generally, many UK travellers have experienced similar problems over the years, resulting either from buying ‘cheap’ policies with inferior cover or exceeding the limits of cover set out in a policy’s conditions.
“At MPI we pride ourselves on a generous approach to policy exclusions, because we believe in allowing customers as much freedom as possible to participate in wide ranging activities if they wish.
“We also urge people to read policy conditions so they know how far they can go. And travel insurance should never be bought on price alone, because a cheap policy means the insurer may have excluded many activities.”
It’s not the cost that matters but the cover that counts