As Christmas approaches and with it the annual upsurge in travel associated with the festive season, the Department of Health is reminding both residents and visitors of the need for adequate insurance when travelling, even if travelling only to the UK and especially if travelling further afield.
Although the Reciprocal Health Agreement between the Isle of Man and UK Governments allows for free emergency healthcare, it does not cover repatriation, meaning that appropriate insurance cover is recommended for Isle of Man residents visiting the UK, and UK residents visiting the Isle of Man.
Minister for Health, David Anderson MHK said: “Despite the high profile publicity surrounding the renegotiation of the reciprocal health agreement in 2009/10, many people still don’t realise that repatriation is not covered in the agreement, and that it never has been. This means that if an Isle of Man resident receives emergency treatment in the UK whilst on holiday there, transport back to the Island, from a simple ferry journey with a broken leg, to an air ambulance – which for those in a critical condition can cost as much £20,000 – would need to be paid for either by insurance cover, or by the patient themselves. This is why it’s so vitally important that every single person leaving the Island ensures that they have adequate cover. The same is true for visitors to our shores as well. Whilst we would provide free emergency care for UK residents, they would be returned to the UK if on-going care was required, with transportation paid for either by their insurance or from their own funds.”
The Department of Health has recently published revised guidance, with a leaflet available for Isle of Man residents visiting the UK and further afield; and another for non-residents visiting the Island.
The Minister continued: “It’s important that people remember that the Isle of Man and the UK are two separate jurisdictions, with two separate healthcare systems. Despite our continued efforts to raise awareness and educate the public, it seems clear that some people remain unaware of the need for adequate insurance. There may also be a number of people who feel that the likelihood of anything happening to them is slim and therefore decide that it’s worth taking the risk of not having insurance. But the message from government is clear and simple – make sure you’re insured. We are unable to intervene or financially assist anyone who finds themselves caught out by not having adequate cover. In short, unless it’s for a referral to a UK hospital by the Department, government cannot and will not pay to transport residents back from the UK; just as we wouldn’t be pay to transport a resident back from the United States or Spain. I implore everyone travelling off-Island to seek out adequate cover for repatriation, or check with their existing provider on repatriation cover between the Isle of Man and the UK. I would also encourage everyone to read the information recently published by the Department, which can be downloaded from our website.”
The Department is also emphasising the importance of Isle of Man residents having full travel insurance when travelling outside of the UK. As the Isle of Man is not a member of the European Union (EU), the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – formerly known as Form 111 – which affords EU residents limited healthcare cover in other EU countries, does not apply to Isle of Man residents, or EU residents visiting the Isle of Man.
Whilst the Department of Health cannot recommend any specific insurance policy providers; local brokers and insurance providers are likely to be able to source or offer appropriate cover. With all insurance policies it is important to fully check the terms and conditions and for residents to make their needs clear to the insurance provider. Pre-existing medical conditions should always be fully disclosed as failure to do so can void cover.
Further information is available from the Department of Health’s website at www.gov.im/health/travel.xml or hard copies are available upon request by telephoning 685004 or e-mailing email@example.com.