While it is not a topic that many of us want to think about, what happens
if, after packing your clothes, meticulously labelling your luggage, and
arranging for someone to feed the cat, you are in an accident abroad
and find yourself having to make a claim for compensation? As the
world gets smaller with cheaper and more accessible travel, it might
seem that travelling is less of a risky endeavour and that you might have
the same protection legally as you would in England. Whilst specialist
solicitors can often find a way to ensure that your claim is brought in the
English Courts, bringing the benefits of cost recovery and knowledge of
procedure, it is often the case that the law in respect of responsibility for
an incident, as well as in respect of how much compensation you might
be awarded, is governed by the country where you have the accident.
And once you start taking foreign laws into account, the world becomes a
very big place again indeed.
Even while we remain within Europe for now, the rules that apply
to minimum amounts of insurance coverage to cover payments of
compensation for personal injuries or material losses can vary wildly.
Some countries, such as France, provide that there must be unlimited
insurance to cover claims for personal injury, i.e. a lump sum payment
to compensate you for the injuries that you have suffered, but there
are more often than not restrictions upon the funds available under
an insurance policy to cover your financial losses. In Poland, minimum
insurance levels are set at €1,000,000 for ‘material losses.’ These are the
elements of compensation that quite quickly stack up and are intended
to cover things such as the future loss of earnings (if you are no longer
able to work as a result of an injury); future care and general expenses
for rehabilitation and medical treatment. When you think of it that way,
€1,000,000 is not much money at all, if it is meant to cover decades of
loss of earnings of treatment.
Of course, not everyone is injured whilst on holiday, so wherever you
are travelling to, please do enjoy a great and safe holiday.
While these levels are minimum levels of
cover, it is worrying that some countries
have no set minimum insurance cover
requirements. Very few countries require
insurance companies to have unlimited
cover. Short of demanding a global-wide
change in insurance law, what can or should
you do? At Irwin Mitchell, we have devised
some tips to help you travel safely:
Before travelling, ensure you have travel
insurance with good medical assistance
cover for the whole duration of your
trip. If you are holidaying within the
European Economic Area (EEA), an EHIC
card will enable you to secure access to
state healthcare in other EEA countries.
You can get one online or at your local
post office for free, but you shouldn’t
rely on this alone as this would not cover
the cost for you to be repatriated by
air ambulance back home if you were
It is important to read the fine print of
your travel insurance policy to make sure
that it gives you the right level of cover.
Look out for policy limits and exclusions.
Before booking your trip, do a background
check on the company carrying out your
trip, including how long they have been
in service, and look at any reviews.
Before signing up to a trip or excursion
read all of the terms and conditions of
the contract carefully and ask questions
if points are unclear. Ask for these if they
are not sent to you automatically.
More on our International Personal Injury team
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