‘Saga won’t cover my medical expenses in Spain’

Gill Charlton has been fighting for Telegraph readers and solving their travel problems for more than 30 years, winning refunds, righting wrongs and suggesting solutions. She takes on a different case each week – so please send your problems to her for consideration at asktheexperts@telegraph.co.uk. Please give your full name and, if your dispute is with a travel company, your address, telephone number and any booking reference. Gill can’t answer every question, but she will help where she can and all emails are acknowledged. 

This week’s question… 

Dear Gill,

I took out holiday insurance with Saga for a visit to Andorra. On my return journey, I had a fall outside Barcelona airport and had to be checked over in a local hospital before flying back. 

I submitted a claim to Saga Insurance, but it says it will not pay as I was not covered for medical expenses in Spain. Nobody mentioned that the cover did not include transit through that country to what is a landlocked country in the Pyrenees.

Saga’s customer services team has checked the recording of my conversation with the sales agent. After asking where my holiday was to be, the agent then asked if I was going to Spain. I answered with a negative, as I was only passing through the airport on my way to Andorra. If she had explained the ­reason for her question, I would have told her that I was flying into and out of Barcelona. I’m still waiting for the final medical bill, but I do feel that Saga should pay up. Do you agree?

– CL

Dear CL,

You are in your late 70s and you paid £92.60 for a week’s insurance with Saga. The document you were sent does say under “Where am I covered”: “Andorra plus any other countries shown in your policy schedule.” Spain is not listed elsewhere in the policy schedule. As you bought the insurance on the advice of a Saga sales agent, I felt that the agent should have pointed out that you needed to mention the country through which you would be travelling to reach Andorra.

Following my contact with Saga, it has agreed to pay your modest claim of £177 to cover the cost of a hospital X-ray and treatment in A&E as a gesture of goodwill. However, it points out that customers must include all countries they are visiting, even if only briefly, when buying a single-trip policy. This is because of the differing cost of medical treatment within Europe. Saga says it is more expensive in Spain, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, and policy costs reflect this.

I checked with several insurers to see if this was an industry-wide stance. It does seem to be widespread: Cover For You and Staysure, for example, charge an extra £5 to cover Spain and Andorra. 

Saga levies a £25 supplement to include Spain, but says that it will waive the £70 excess charge if customers have a Global Health Insurance Card. This has replaced the old Ehic, following Brexit. You can still use your Ehic until it expires, but it only covers the EU and not Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

For more expert travel advice, visit our Essential Travel Advice section

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