Why Comprehensive Travel Insurance is important!

By Jack Ronayne

Besides your swimsuits, hat, and SPF, do you really have everything you need when you go on holiday if you have Marfan syndrome? Jack Ronayne, supporter of the Marfan Trust, suggests otherwise. Based on his own personal travel experience, Jack shares why having comprehensive travel insurance is so important.

EHIC's are not enough

Many people may unwittingly embark on their holidays thinking that the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is all that they need if they fall ill when travelling in Europe.  Speaking from experience, having travel medical insurance on top of the EHIC is essential for people with Marfan syndrome, particularly post Brexit. I have learned the hard way that not having comprehensive travel insurance can make foreign medical bills and alternative travel arrangements very costly and stressful.

When travelling within Europe, the EHIC allows you access to healthcare in your visiting country at a reduced cost or free of charge until 31 December 2020, and under certain circumstances, from 1 January 2021. However, my experience in Croatia in 2018 will illustrate how purchasing additional travel insurance helped me.

We used Travel Insurance 4 Medical which specialises in cover for people with medical conditions (see list below for details of this and other specialist travel insurers). Insurance can be purchased for single or multiple trips and covers either Europe only or worldwide. Like any insurance, there is a range of policies and cover, but because of my condition, I chose the most expensive Superior Annual Multi Trip policy with an additional premium at a total cost of just over £150. Perhaps overkill for a short trip to Croatia, but my family was still dreaming of a holiday to Japan later in the year! There was a straightforward Medical Declaration form to fill out online where I had to declare if I had ever been diagnosed or had treatment for various types of conditions (i.e. heart or circulatory, breathing, high blood pressure), whether in the last 2 years if I had been treated for any serious or re-occurring medical condition or if I take regular prescribed medication.

After declaring that I have Marfan syndrome, it prompted me to specify those Marfan-related conditions that applied to me (i.e. Aortic aneurysm, Aortic root dilatation, Cardiac valve disease). In my case, I declared that I had Aortic root dilatation and then was prompted to click that it had been satisfactorily corrected by surgery. And that was it. Covered! My parents and sister opted to use the same insurance provider and took out a separate policy for themselves (£100 for all 3 for annual cover worldwide including the US), which definitely made things easier when we had to put our claim through following my time in a Croatian hospital.

With insurance sorted, I travelled to attend the European Youth Bridge Championship in Opatija, Croatia in the summer of 2018. Prior to the trip, I had recent recurrent pneumothoraces, so after having an x-ray and on the advice and all-clear from my Consultant respiratory physician, I travelled by train and bus (instead of flying) to Croatia with my mother who insisted on accompanying me.  Not exactly the “fun” trip every 18-year-old plans to take with their mother, but we were being cautious and in the end it was a pretty cool way to travel, especially through Venice.

Thank Goodness for Travel Insurance
Unfortunately, on the last day of the tournament, I felt unwell and had extreme tightness in my chest, symptoms that I recognized all too well with having a pneumothorax. Multiple x-rays, CT scans and a chest drain kept me in a Rijeka hospital for the next 12 days, but I was well looked after and enjoyed the daily Croatian stew! After the drain was removed, we then had to deal with how to return to the UK so it was decided that my father and sister would drive from London to collect us. We arrived safely back home a couple of days later.

We had been in contact with Travel Insurance 4 Medical from the start and we were told to keep all receipts, hospital bills and medical reports. Upon returning, we compiled everything and sent it off along with the claims form and relevant medical forms. In summary, the insurers reimbursed us for a settlement sum over £3,400 covering excess hospital costs that the EHIC did not cover, all repatriation costs (petrol, tolls, Eurotunnel), as well as all hotel costs for my parents and sister while I was in hospital. There was also a hospital benefit payment of £50 per day. The entire claims process did take a few months but I highly recommend Travel Insurance 4 Medical for their responsiveness and their support.

There are many different travel insurance providers out there so it is always good to shop around. However, having now gone through the process, I now understand and appreciate the importance of being comprehensively covered in case of emergencies.

Please note that the views expressed in the above article are those of its author and that the article was written pre-Brexit. The Marfan Trust is not responsible for the medical content of comments posted by others in these blog pieces. If you have specific medical queries, please email [email protected].

Specialist Travel Insurers

Some of our supporters have used the following travel insurance companies:

Travel Insurance 4 Medical
Offers full cover for people travelling with existing medical conditions. The UK based call centre can give you instant cover and an online screening takes as little as 3 minutes.
T: +44 (0)34 5908 0121 | W: https://www.travelinsurance4medical.co.uk/

StaySure offers travel insurance for people with existing medical condition.
T: +44 (0)330 828 5565| W: www.staysure.co.uk/medical-travel-insurance/

Freedom Insurance
Freedom is a specialist travel insurance company, offering pre-existing medical conditions travel insurance.
T: +44 (0)1223 446913 | W: https://www.freedominsure.co.uk/

All Clear Travel
All clear travel offers travel insurance for many medical conditions, including heart conditions that are often refused by other insurance companies.
T: +44 (0)1708 339295 | W: https://www.allcleartravel.co.uk/

Insurance With
Provides specialist medical travel insurance for people with all kinds of medical conditions. It also has a very useful guide for people travelling with a medical condition on its website.
T: +44 (0)20 3582 4598 | W: https://www.insurancewith.com/

British Insurance Brokers Association - If you are struggling to find appropriate insurance of any description (travel, life, income protection etc) they can put you in touch with insurance brokers who can assist. T: 0370 950 1790 W: https://biba.org.uk

Marfan Trust, a CIO registered as a charity in England in Wales with charity number 1198847 at: c/o 24 Oakfield Lane, Keston, Kent, BR2 6BY. Contact us at [email protected] or by phone on + 44 (0)333 011 5256
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