Holiday claim? Ask the taxpayer
Travel insurers expect us to bail them out for medical costs
Wednesday 14 May 1997
They recoup part of their payments by asking policyholders who have already met part of their medical bills to fill in and backdate an E111 form. The form is used to claim, on the policyholders' behalf, any money that they might have been entitled to from that source.
Policyholders are told that if they fail to fill in the form, as requested by insurers, they could invalidate the terms of the cover they took out with the insurer.
Jeremy Warner, a journalist with The Independent, was hurt in a skiing accident and had to pay for his medical treatment while abroad.
When he claimed on his return to the UK, he was told to sign an E111 form on behalf of the insurance company. Mr Warner says: "It is pretty scandalous: taxpayers are in effect subsidising the profits of insurance companies."
E111 forms entitle UK citizens to recover from the Government a large share of emergency medical expenses incurred when using any European state health provision. Likewise, other European citizens can do the same in the UK, in theory. The agreement is geared so that EU states offer each others' citizens the minimum health-care available free to the local population in each country, with any extra paid by travellers themselves.
But although the individual's right to claim is waived if a private travel insurance policy is called upon to pay out, insurance companies are stepping in to claim the policyholder's entitlement.
Mr Warner's insurance was taken out through American Express, which places the cover with Europ Assistance.
When he objected to being asked to sign the E111 form on behalf of the insurer, he received a letter from the company. "It is a basic principle of insurance that the insured has a duty to minimise any claim and that insurers will seek recovery of costs wherever possible," it said.
"This would be the case on any type of insurance, not just travel policies. Such procedures do not normally affect the level of claim settlement for the individuals insured ... However, when setting the across-the-board price of policies, such matters as costs paid out and costs recovered do have to be taken into account."
A spokeswoman for Europ Assistance adds: "E111s are reciprocal so that insurance companies can claim back the medical costs from each country. The reason we do that is to provide cover cheaply.
"For example, insurance costs are higher for people travelling to the United States, not because there is much greater sickness but because there is no reciprocal agreement with the UK."
Julie Philpott, marketing director at Columbus Direct, which sells travel insurance by phone, says: "The thing people should bear in mind is that the vast majority of cover that we provide is not met by the E111. If people fall dangerously ill and have to be repatriated, for example, the cost of that will not be reclaimable under the E111 and is simply paid by us."
Ms Philpott points out that it was up to the company to determine whether it was willing to go the whole way and demand that the insured person sign the E111 waiver form on the firm's behalf.
"We leave that decision to the customer. But if they are prepared to sign the form, we are willing to ignore the excess, which we are not legally obliged to pay under the terms of our contract."
The Europ Assistance spokeswoman adds that her company operated in a similar way. "We have many policies where there is no obligation to sign the form. In this instance, the cover was through Centurion Assistance, an American Express policy which says people must do so. We are required to respect that decision."
The Department of Health says that under European subsidiarity rules, insurers had the right to ask their clients to claim. The principle was similar to that where in the event of the theft of a handbag abroad, both the travel insurer and the home contents insurance provider will agree to share the cost of replacing the stolen goods if the bag was potentially covered under both policies.
Mr Warner is unconvinced. In the face of seeing his claim being thrown out unless he put his signature on the E111 waiver form, he said he was likely to sign. But he adds: "I think this is a disgraceful state of affairs. Something should be done about it"n
Government's Pension Wise guidance service is up and running
Bargain Hunter: BT improves its mobile reception with 'incredibly competitive' deals
Mark Dampier: What price equities when cost cutting does nothing for profits?
Questions of Cash: Why was my case ignored by My Civil Service Pension?
Offset your mortgage and save thousands
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
Day In a Page
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station