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What To Do If You Are Ill on Holiday | Saga Travel Insurance



What To Do If You Are Ill on Holiday | Saga Travel Insurance

We all look forward to going on holiday and having a healthy and relaxing break. There’s much to think about before you go but staying well should be a priority.

How to keep well on holiday

Ensure you have an ample supply of any prescription medications you are taking as well as anything else you regularly reach for in the medicine cabinet. It’s also a good idea to take a first aid kit, so you’ve got most minor ailments covered on your travels.

First aid kit essentials


  • Anti-sickness medicine
  • Diarrhoea tablets and oral rehydration salts
  • Indigestion tablets
  • Antihistamine tablets and cream
  • Pain relief such as ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol and decongestant tablets
  • Plasters, wound dressings, bandages, scissors and tweezers (not in your hand luggage)
  • Antiseptic cream and aloe vera or after sun lotion

Prevention is better than cure

Check the government’s foreign travel advice before you go. In the health section for each country you’ll find details of healthcare provision, medication restrictions, health risks and vaccination recommendations as well as emergency medical numbers.

What should I do if I become unwell on holiday?

Even with the best preparation, it’s all too common to fall sick when relaxing into holiday mode. If you need advice or treatment for an illness or injury while you’re away, local pharmacies and public health facilities should be able to help.

Your travel insurance company may have a GP helpline you can use if you’d prefer to talk to a doctor back home. For example, all Saga Travel Insurance customers can contact the Saga GP Service 24/7 to arrange a phone of video appointment from anywhere in the world. Save the helpline and claims numbers to your phone for any health matters that may arise during your trip.

If it’s an emergency, call the emergency services in the country or territory you’re visiting and contact your insurer as soon as possible.

Who else can I speak to if I have health concerns?

  • Package holidays – Talk to your holiday rep or holiday company.
  • Cruises – Seek help from the ship’s doctor. On-board medical facilities are chargeable and you’ll need cruise insurance to travel, even if you choose to cover the cost of a visit to the on-board doctor yourself.
  • Independent travel – If you have travel insurance, you can call the 24-hour claims line. As well as covering emergency medical expenses, your insurer should help you identify the best medical facility for your needs and may be able to help with translation or interpreting services too. Your insurance documents should contain other useful contact details. It may help to have access to your policy online so you can download it to your phone or tablet if something happens while you’re away.

Did you know?

Saga customers can view their travel insurance quotes and policies online with a MySaga account.

What medical treatment can I access on holiday?

The UK has reciprocal healthcare agreements with EU countries and a number of non-EU countries. Under these arrangements, you’ll often be treated as if you were a resident.

In general, only immediate medically necessary treatment is provided – free of charge or at a reduced cost – to allow visitors to return home for any further investigations and treatment.

Medical costs can be substantial in popular international destinations like the USA and Canada, so it’s essential you have cover for any pre-existing conditions.

Do I need a GHIC or EHIC to get treatment overseas?

The benefits provided by a Global or European Health Insurance Card (GHIC or EHIC) depend on which country you’re visiting, but it’s always best to have an up-to-date card with you on holiday.

  • For EU countries and Switzerland, you’ll need a GHIC or EHIC when seeking medical attention.
  • For non-EU countries with a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK, it’s worth having a GHIC or EHIC but you may also be asked to present your passport, evidence of UK residence, proof of national insurance and even proof of NHS enrolment.

A GHIC or EHIC may not cover all treatment costs and services that are free on the National Health Service, so it should be used in combination with travel insurance rather than as an alternative to it.

Can I claim back expenses?

For smaller overseas costs, such as bills of £50 charged by a local doctor for a consultation and medication, you’ll usually be expected to pay the facility direct.

When you get home, if you make an eligible claim, you may be able to get the money back subject to any excess amounts on your policy. So keep any relevant receipts and doctor’s notes to support this.

For Saga Travel Insurance customers, emergency medical expenses for eligible claims will be paid directly to the hospital so you won’t have to pay out of your own pocket and claim it back later.

What happens if I don’t have travel insurance?

If you don’t have travel insurance and your costs aren’t covered upfront by a reciprocal healthcare agreement, you’ll have to pay for medical care yourself, so make sure you have enough money or a credit card with you.

Even with an EHIC, you may still have to pay upfront for treatment and then claim the money back (preferably while you’re still abroad), so keep any original invoices and proof of payments that you’ve made.

Please note EHIC/GHIC cards do not cover repatriation, so it’s important to have valid travel insurance in place.

You can also contact the British embassy or consulate for practical advice, help and support while you’re away.

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