Who will pay the medical costs of holidaymakers in the EU?

Close to 20% of Poles are planning their holidays in one of the EU member states. However, more than one fourth of them do not know who pays our medical costs while on holidays in the EU, shows a consumer survey conducted in March this year for Towarzystwo Ubezpieczeń Europa S.A. by the IMAS Research Institute.

"Poles do not pay much attention to the scope of insurance they have during holidays. General terms and conditions of travel insurance policies are read in detail only by around 30% of policy buyers. As many as 86% of those who have heard about the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) has never checked the scope of coverage offered by the card. For us it is a sign that we should inform the public more about the need to take out travel insurance,” said Jan Prądzyński, President of the Polish Chamber of Insurance (PIU) during a press conference devoted to travel insurance held on 26 May 2011 in Warsaw.

Although around 70% of Poles have heard about the EHIC, 46% of them are not sure whether the card is sufficient to receive suitable medical services in EU countries. Another 29% of respondents are convinced it is, while 25% are of a contrary opinion. More than a half of Poles believe that it is NFZ (National Health Fund) which covers, at least in part, the costs of treatment in the event of an accident in EU countries and 14% think that NFZ will cover all the costs. 
"It seems that Poles want to believe that NFZ will pay all the costs of their possible treatment abroad. However, the terms and scope of such insurance differ in different countries and in the case of services such as, for instance, medical transport to Poland or private healthcare, it is practically impossible to get insurance reimbursement,” said Krzysztof Mędrala, Deputy President of TU Europa S.A., one of the leading providers of travel insurance.

18% of respondents planned to buy additional insurance for their package trips abroad. In the case of individual trips, insurance policies are bought only by 57% of holidaymakers. Travel insurance is bought mainly "just in case". The awareness of increased risk (illness, sports, travelling with children) makes people more willing to take out insurance.

"This year, because of the growing popularity of EU countries as holiday destinations of Poles, we want to encourage people to find out about the standard insurance programmes in the country they are going to. If the general terms of insurance do not meet our expectations we can always take out additional insurance in the necessary scope. It is also worth remembering that some of our destination countries (e.g Croatia or Turkey) are not covered by the EHIC card programme. The above means that the insurance offered by NFZ will not be available there at all. In such cases, additional insurance is the only way in which holidaymakers can obtain suitable protection," said Jan Korsak, President of the Polish Chamber of Tourism.

This year's conference held before the holiday season is a continuation of the programme started least year by TU Europa SA, the Polish Chamber of Insurance (PIU) and the Polish Chamber of Tourism (PIT) whose purpose is to increase the customers' knowledge about travel insurance with special stress on the awareness of the terms of insurance bought.

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