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Beware a Pain in Spain

The Association of British Insurers is warning UK holiday makers heading for Spain to be on their guard about not getting the medical treatment they are entitled to. Over ten million British holidaymakers are expected to visit Spain each year, with an estimated 30 British people a week requiring medical treatment in Spanish hospitals.

All UK travellers to countries within the European Economic Area are entitled to medical treatment provided by the state of that country either free of charge or at a reduced rate provided they can produce a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is free and available from the NHS website or by applying through the Post Office.

However, travel insurers are aware of over 100 cases where UK holidaymakers have been refused state medical treatment in Spain – despite producing their EHIC. In most cases they have been referred instead for private medical treatment, which is extremely expensive.

Spanish hospitals may be cashing in on British travellers' lack of understanding of what their treatment entitlement is – and research undertaken by the ABI seems to back this up as 46% of people polled were not aware of what medical treatment they are entitled to under the EHIC.

Some of the cases which have come to light include:

> A woman needing treatment for a fractured arm was sent to a private clinic
> A child on holiday in Spain who required medical attention for a head injury was refused state treatment despite his father producing his EHIC and so was forced to seek private medical treatment
> Travellers are often asked for the details of their medical insurance before they are treated, even though they are entitled to state medical treatment. This has led to some insurance companies being billed for treatment which should have been paid for by the Spanish authorities. In one case a holidaymaker was hospitalised for a month at a cost of €37,000 covered by the EHIC. However, their travel insurer was subsequently billed for €63,000 by a debt collection agency working for the Spanish hospital.

It is therefore essential that travellers to Spain – or indeed anywhere in Europe – know exactly what medical treatment they are entitled to and what to do if they become ill. Travel insurance is vital and anyone who encounters problems having their EHIC accepted should call their travel insurance company immediately – most have a 24 hours helpline. Whilst the EHIC is very important, it is not a substitute for having travel insurance which is required to cover the cost of any private medical treatment needed as well as the cost of emergency repatriation to the UK. If you are in any doubt at all as to what you actually require, give our experienced and knowledgeable team at Westhill Insurance Services a call, there is no point in risking your health or ruining your holiday when a simple phone call will provide all the information you need to travel safely.

Contact Westhill Insurance Services, today.

Posted on 30th May, 2013