Travel insurance at affordable premiums

Guide to Long Stay Travel Insurance

1 Introduction to long stay travel insurance

2 When do you need long stay travel insurance cover?

   2.1 Cover for medical bills and repatriation

3 What does it cover?

   3.1 Levels of cover and limits

   3.2 Policy excesses

4 Are there any exclusions?

   4.1 Pre-existing medical conditions and hazardous sports

   4.2 Typical exclusions

5 Long stay travel tips

   5.1 Vaccinations

   5.2 Prescription medicines

   5.3 Connectivity

   5.4 Paperwork

   5.5 Money

   5.6 Travel light

   5.7 Summary


Introduction to long stay travel insurance

This guide is designed for people who are planning to travel for a longer than normal period of time (typically in excess of a few months), whether it is as a sabbatical, doing volunteering work, or (non-manual) working abroad.

In cases such as this, traditional travel insurance will not suffice. This is because the cover is only valid for a limited period of time (this could be anything from 30-50 consecutive days depending on the insurance provider).

Specialist long stay travel insurance does what it says on the tin, with policies covering up to 18 months’ worth of consecutive days of travelling.


Why you need long stay travel insurance cover

Really, the heading of this section should be “why you need travel insurance cover” as, whether you require long stay cover or not, travel insurance offers a wide range of protection.

Travel insurance is designed to cover many risks before and while you travel. Policies typically may include some or all of the following elements of protection, depending on the level of cover you buy:

· having to cancel before you travel (such as being struck down by a severe illness or the death of a close family member);

· travel delays over 12 hours;

· cover for emergency medical treatment;

· repatriation costs;

· loss of baggage or personal possessions;

· personal liability costs;

· legal costs;

· emergency dental treatment;

· etc.

Cover for medical bills and repatriation

Many UK travellers believe that if they are travelling in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, they do not need to worry about medical costs, due to the European Health Insurance Card agreement with other member countries.

This agreement (which comes in the form of card that you need to apply for and have with you when you travel) means that you can get some emergency medical treatments free as you would with the NHS in this country. You should note, however, that additional costs – such as prescription medicines or dressings - may not be covered.

You also have to consider what would happen if you don’t have travel insurance cover and you needed assistance getting home. For example, if you broke your leg while skiing in France, it is unlikely you will be able to sit on a plane. You may need a row of seats or some other special seating that, with only an EHIC card, would not be covered.

You would have to pay for these repatriation costs yourself – unless you have travel insurance.

Not all policies are the same

It is important to note that different providers offer different elements of protection – so never assume that what is covered by one travel insurance policy will automatically be covered by the policy of another provider.

Typically, you may also find that you can choose from several levels of cover for a particular type of policy. So, someone who wants the most basic insurance can opt for the budget version, while someone else may opt for a slightly more expensive version of the policy that offers higher limits of cover and, in some cases, additional elements of protection.


What does it cover?

We discussed in the previous section what travel insurance typically covers. Long stay travel insurance is an enhanced version of standard cover to meet the extra hazards potentially associated with longer stays.

Product features may vary depending on whom you buy the cover from, but typically you can expect it to include all or some of the following:

· cover for stays up to 18 months;

· pre-travel cancellation;

· trip abandonment;

· missed departure;

· travel delays of 12 hours and above;

· personal documents, cash, money and possessions;

· cover for emergency medical treatment and state hospital stays;

· repatriation costs;

· credit card fraud;

· loss of baggage;

· personal accident;

· permanent total disability;

· personal liability costs;

· legal costs;

· emergency dental treatment.

Levels of cover and limits

Note that claim limits will apply (typically, up to £1m or £5m medical expenses cover) and many insurers, including ourselves at Bengo Travel, offer different levels of cover.

For example, with our long stay travel insurance we offer three levels of cover - Long Stay Last Minute, Long Stay Essential, and Long Stay Optimum.

The Long Stay Last Minute offers medical cover and trip abandonment – ideal if you are going away on a last minute break. The Long Stay Optimum on the other hand is the most comprehensive option, offering cover for everything from pre-travel cancellation through to medical expenses and credit card fraud.

This choice means you can select the policy that most fits your requirements and your budget.

Policy excesses

When choosing the type and level of cover you require, don’t forget to check out what the excess amounts are per event. The excess amount is the first part of any successful claim that you are liable for and, typically, amounts of £75 per claim are not uncommon. (Again, the excess amounts will vary depending on your provider, policy type and the event covered).


Are there any exclusions?

Exclusions are hazards or events that are not covered by your insurance policy. These may vary depending not only on the type of travel insurance you buy, but your own individual circumstances. For example, if you have a pre-existing medical condition at the time of applying for the cover, this should be disclosed to the policy provider.

Pre-existing medical conditions and hazardous sports

If you don’t disclose a pre-existing medical condition and then, whilst you are on your travels, need hospital treatment because of it, your claim will be excluded and your policy become void.

Similarly, if you are going to be engaging in hazardous sports and you don’t tell your insurer, any claim you try to make as a result of loss or injury caused by the hazardous sport could be rejected.

The key here is to be open and honest when applying for your cover. If you intend on pursuing dangerous sports – or you are not sure if a certain sport is classed as dangerous – then speak to your insurer. You may need to pay an additional premium to cover the extra risk, but at least then you know you will have full cover.

The same applies with a pre-existing medical condition. Tell your insurer when you apply.

Typical exclusions

Apart from these two exclusions, which are standard on just about all travel insurance cover, your policy provider may stipulate more. The following is a list of typical exclusions, but, as with all cover, this will depend on the individual policy you choose. Generally excluded from cover are:

· undisclosed pre-existing medical conditions;

· people over or under a certain age;

· if you have not been a resident of the UK for a defined period of time before you buy the cover;

· people going on cruises (you will need special cruise insurance for this);

· if you go outside the geographical area covered by your policy for a total number of days;

· the first part of any claim (the excess amount) if one is stated for that particular event;

· any hazardous activity unless the appropriate additional premium has been paid and the policy endorsed;

· damage or loss that happened while you were under the influence of alcohol or (non-prescription) drugs;

· travelling against the advice or recommendations published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It is important that you understand what exclusions apply to your policy to ensure that you keep the cover valid. If you are unsure as to what any exclusions or any policy wording means, do ask your policy provider. That is what they are there for!


Long stay travel tips

Now that you understand the protection you can buy in order to cover just about any eventuality on your long stay trip, here are some general tips that may be worth considering …

Vaccinations

Check to see if you may need any vaccinations before you travel – speak to your local GP or look online. MASTA is a very useful website as well as the NHS website.

Prescription medicines

If you are on prescription medicines, there are a number of things to remember:

· check that the prescription medicine you use is allowed to be brought in to the country you are travelling to. For example, in Japan, you are not allowed to bring in a number of “common” UK medicines such as sinus sprays or codeine based medicines. In some cases you may need to get prior approval – so make sure you find out well in advance if you will be affected;

· also check the position in relation to you getting repeat prescriptions in the country in which you are staying;

· when travelling through airports, make sure your medicines are in their own packets (with your name and dosage on them);

· always carry your medicines in your hand luggage – it is not unknown for suitcases to get lost or go missing!

· in some cases, it may be prudent to have a Doctor’s letter confirming the medicines you are on;

· also carry your repeat prescription forms too.

It may also be wise to take a basic first aid kit, including plasters, antiseptic ointment and gauze etc, plus sunscreen (if relevant).

Connectivity

Unless you are going to somewhere really remote, getting a mobile phone signal or internet connectivity should not be too difficult. It can be costly, though, so think about the most cost-effective way to communicate with friends and family back home.

Pre-paid SIM cards may be an option, or, if you can find somewhere with free wi-fi, you can may be able to use applications such as Skype.

Paperwork

Keep your passport and travel insurance documents safe and with you at all times. Also, keep a copy of your passport – either scan a copy and keep it on any mobile device or a memory stick – or print out a paper copy.

Have to hand details of the UK embassy in the country / countries you are travelling to, in case you should lose your passport or need help.

Don’t forget to check if you need a Visa, too.

Money

You certainly will not want to carry a huge amount of cash around with you, so consider something like a prepaid currency card for the country you are travelling to. These can easily be ‘topped up’ online and via text and typically won’t attract transaction fees in the country you are using it (unlike using most credit cards).

Travel light

When packing your suitcase / rucksack, only put in the basics that you’ll need. Toiletries such as soap and shampoo can easily be bought once you arrive at your destination, so just focus on the clothing.

There are several outlets that sell clothes specifically designed for people who are travelling and / or partaking in outdoor sports. Mountain Warehouse for example sells mens’ and ladies’ clothing that is easy to wash and dry – great of you are travelling from place to place and don’t want to carry too much.

Look out for other nifty ideas such as lightweight waterproof clothing and reusable plastic ponchos in case you get caught out in the rain!

Summary

In summary, a long stay break can be something exciting and even life-changing. Make sure you are well prepared before you go not only in terms of what you take with you, but in getting appropriate travel insurance!