International travel and health

Insurance for travellers

Travellers are strongly advised to travel with comprehensive travel insurance as a matter of routine and to declare any underlying health conditions to their travel insurer. Travellers should be aware that medical care abroad is often available only at private medical facilities and may be costly. In places where good-quality medical care is not readily available, travellers may need to be evacuated in case of accident or illness. If death occurs abroad, repatriation of the body can be extremely expensive and may be difficult to arrange. Travellers are advised (i) to seek information about possible reciprocal health-care agreements between the country of residence and the destination country (see http://www.who.int/ith/links/national_links/en/index.html), and (ii) to obtain comprehensive travellers’ health insurance for destinations where health risks are significant and medical care is expensive or not readily available. This health insurance should include coverage for changes to the itinerary, emergency evacuation for health reasons, hospitalization, medical care in case of illness or accident and repatriation of the body in case of death. Travellers should discuss with the parties concerned any issues or claims as they happen and not upon return from the trip.

Travel agents and tour operators usually provide information about travellers’ health insurance and should advise travellers about the importance and benefits of travel insurance. It should be noted that some countries now require proof of adequate health insurance as a condition for entry. Moreover, some travel insurers require proof of immunizations and/or malaria prophylaxis as a condition of their approval for treatment or repatriation. Travellers should know the procedures to follow to obtain assistance and reimbursement. A copy of the insurance certificate and contact details should be carried with other travel documents in the hand luggage.

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