Winter travel insurance: don’t break a leg (but if you do…)
November 29, 2013 | By: High50

Thinking of winter sports? An EHIC (an E-what?) won’t save you from all misfortunes, and you might want extra cover for your medical conditions. Exclusive offer: get five per cent off all Staysure travel policies by entering HIGH50 at checkout 

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Age is no barrier to a bit of freestyling! (But also brings the wisdom to get insured first.) Photo from Corbis

As icy winds sweep Britain, your thoughts may be turning to the mountain ranges of the continent, where at least they put their cold weather to good use.

The slopes beckon, and with them a one-in-four chance that you’ll suffer some sort of injury while enjoying your winter sports. But, hey, you’re insured, aren’t you?

Oh, you aren’t. Hm. Well, don’t feel too foolish. Recent research by the Ski Club of Great Britain has revealed that more than 50 per cent of skiers don’t bother with travel insurance.

But what’s just as bad, according to moneysupermarket.com, is that more than half of us aren’t aware of the benefits of the free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card).

Travelling without an EHIC could prove a costly mistake. It lasts for five years, and producing it in countries within the EEA (European Economic Area) or Switzerland means you will be treated on the same basis as a resident of that country.

So, step one: each member of your family should apply for an EHIC online, or by phoning 0845 606 2030. You will need your National Insurance number to hand.

How free is ‘free’?

Step two: read the small print. The rules on healthcare are not consistent across Europe. For instance, some countries require a patient contribution, while others run expensive private ambulance services. (The NHS guide to healthcare abroad explains the rules in each.)

But even if you’re willing to risk those fees, remember that – in the case of illness or accident – you may need to ring around, probably in a foreign language, for hospitals, ambulances or doctors.

You may need to explain your injuries or symptoms to someone whose mother tongue is not English. And you’ll almost certainly need to put other arrangements in place, to accommodate the circumstances.

Not least, flights home. What happens if you need to be whisked back to Blighty early, for continuing care? The EHIC only covers treatment on the spot. And that, we’re afraid, is why it’s no substitute for travel insurance.

Never mind that an EHIC can’t help with all those minor disasters you might encounter overseas: losing your luggage or having your wallet lifted; a cracked pipe at home (prompting an urgent return) or a lost passport. It sure won’t cover an air ambulance to Heathrow.

Honestly, it’s the best policy

This may also be true of a policy that you pay for. While insurers should always offer repatriation, they will naturally be looking for get-out clauses should you file a claim.

For example, they may refuse to shell out if you injure yourself while behaving irresponsibly or taking unnecessary risks. (So don’t expect them to sympathise with your schnapps-induced tumble.)

Similarly, you may put your cover at risk if you fail to disclose a pre-existing medical condition (and your health at risk if you do disclose something, only to learn it can’t be insured).

But at least there’s a solution to that problem. If you do have existing medical conditions, a number of companies are now competing over the price of specialist cover, among them our new partner, over-50s insurance specialists Staysure, who cover over 60 conditions as standard.

Friends in high places

Sometimes, here at high50, we can be a bit sniffy about the so-called  ‘grey’ market: ‘Saga’ does not describe our lives half as well as ‘epic’.

But, as our Boomer friends tell us, there are advantages to being considered a good bet by actuaries. Just look, they say, at Staysure’s travel insurance packages, whether for winter sports holidays, single trips or annual multi-trips (including 17 days’ ski cover for those up to age 70).

And all these policies can be combined with medical travel insurance to cover those pesky conditions.

Then consider Staysure’s reputation: last year, they were voted (by consumers) Best Travel Insurance Provider in the Personal Finance Awards, adding the accolade to the 2013 UK Broker Award in the Best Customer Service category.

By comparison, high50’s recommendation this winter may not cut the same amount of ice. But we’re rather proud that Staysure values our members so much that they’ve come up with a special offer for Generation high50 (see below).

It makes us feel we’ve got friends we can rely on. Rather like a policy from Staysure itself.

Exclusive offer: 5% off travel insurance*

Since 2004, Staysure has provided comprehensive value-for-money travel insurance with pre-existing medical condition cover for over-50s in the UK.  The portfolio has now expanded to include car, home and holiday home insurance, all tailored to over-50 consumers and expatriates living in Europe. Now the company has teamed up with high50 to offer readers a five per cent discount on its travel insurance policies. To take advantage, go to Staysure’s travel insurance page, choose the policy and the options that suit you, proceed to checkout and enter the code HIGH50 for your five per cent off.

*Five per cent discounts apply to the base premium of your travel insurance quote and do not apply to any additional medical screening costs, where relevant. Terms and conditions apply.