Many British holiday makers believe that when they are holidaying in the UK the do not require travel insurance to cover medical bills, after all, they’re covered by the NHS, or are they?
There’s lots of confusion. Many people believe that the UK covers England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. Even some insurance companies, when asked, include the Isle of Man as part of the UK, so it’s not surprising lots of us get confused.
However, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not part of the UK and, while it seems just a bit pedantic to highlight this, it’s very important when it comes to travel and travel insurance.
The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are crown dependencies and are self-governing with their own laws and, more importantly, their own health services.
In the past, a reciprocal health agreement between the UK and the crown dependencies meant that residents of the UK visiting the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, and Channel Island and Isle of Man residents visiting the UK could receive free NHS treatment should they require hospitalisation.
On 1 April 2009 the UK government ended its reciprocal health agreement with the Channel Islands meaning that travellers between the two destinations now require travel insurance to cover medical bills.
Not content with just axing the Channel Islands’ agreement, the UK government has switched its focus to the Isle of Man and will axe its reciprocal health agreement with the Isle of Man at the end of March 2010.
From 1 April 2010, all travellers between the Isle of Man and the UK will require full travel insurance to cover medical bills in the event of an accident or illness.
Up until and including 31 March, visitors will be covered by the existing reciprocal health agreement, residents in the UK visiting the Isle of Man and Isle of Man residents visiting the UK are entitled to free NHS treatment should they be taken ill and require hospitalisation during their stay.
After 31 March 2010, if a visitor between the two countries falls ill, or has an accident, free treatment will only be available in Accident and Emergency departments or ‘walk in’ centres, any subsequent treatments or operations must be paid for by the patient.
While the ending of the reciprocal health agreement should not prevent travel between the UK and the crown dependencies, travel insurance that covers medical bills should be regarded as essential!