Thinking about insurance and border controls may not be your idea of a good time, but having the right bit of paper to hand may save you hours (or days) when you are travelling. Dealing with the bureaucrats before you go is much easier than dealing with them away from home.
A medical insurance policy to cover illness & accidents is vital. Travel insurance against loss and theft is very wise too. Medical costs and availability differ between countries. The UK has agreements with certain countries making costs free or at a reduced rate.
- Europe: If you are travelling to Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which offers you access to reduced-cost medical treatment. The easiest and most efficient way to apply for an EHIC is online at www.nhs.uk/Healthcareabroad.
- You may also receive free healthcare if you are travelling outside the European Economic Area (EEA) provided that the country in question has a reciprocal healthcare arrangement with the UK. Read the Country-by-country guide on the NHS website and find out what applies to the country of your choice.
- USA: Medical care costs are usually higher in America. If you plan to include the USA in your trip, the premium will be higher.
- Rest of the World: The UK has health care agreements with a few other countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
Points to note
- Most policies have exclusions. Often staff in travel agents don't know the small print, so you may need to contact the insurance company.
- Check the policy covers pre-existing medical conditions, or you will not be covered for anything relating to these.
- Even if the policy provides cover, you need to tell the insurer to record that you have diabetes.
- Dangerous activities: Some sports will need additional cover e.g. White water rafting, diving, parascending etc. Whatever you plan, check with the insurer.
- Check on the coverage of emergency transport back home.
- Look around for the best deal. You don't usually have to buy your policy from a travel agent or tour operator, which can be expensive and loaded heavily because of diabetes.
- have information on Travel Insurance
- Find out about visa requirements well in advance.
- Get a letter (on headed note paper) from your Diabetes Clinic explaining that you have diabetes and need to carry insulin etc. Border controls & customs can be difficult otherwise.
- Get a prescription letter from your clinic with all the medical items you may need. Medications should be listed with both generic and brand name. Syringes and blood testing items should be listed also.
Carry some form of ID. The Diabetes UK identification card has a photo, doctors name and phone number, and "I have insulin dependant diabetes" in 5 languages. Available from Diabetes UK Membership Services (0171 636 6112). Medic Alert Foundation Identification bracelets are recognized world-wide, and includes a 24 hour help line. From: Medic Alert Foundation, 12 Bridge Wharf, 156 Caledonian Road, London. N1 9UU.
UK residents with insulin dependant diabetes have restricted 3 year licenses. If your planning to drive when your away, make sure your Driving license will remain valid for the whole trip. Check that your car insurance covers you for everything you are likely to be doing too.