It appears that some people who buy travel insurance are not getting what they think they’re paying for. One visitor from the UK was recently taken ill and transferred by ambulance to Hospitén Sur in Playa de las Americas. On arrival, she was asked for insurance details but when these were provided, was told that the insurance was invalid because the policy’s small print covered only state care. Hospitén Sur is part private, so they will always treat with insurance where possible, but they are obliged to treat with the EHIC if there is no insurance; being a part private hospital, however, anyone with just an EHIC will be transferred to Candelaria if admission is required. They are not the only ones who will be transferred, however. Anyone with travel insurance which restricts cover to state care will be taken north as well.
Most people will surely believe that if they have holiday travel insurance this will cover them for private healthcare if they become ill while abroad. This is clearly not the case, and Hospitén Sur says that they are frequently confronted by policies where this small print restricts cover. The hospital has had its critics, not least for refusing to accept EHICs, but self-evidently, given the chance to treat privately on valid insurance, they would take the opportunity because it would represent income. Their refusal to do so is because such policies themselves are invalid.
Clearly in terms of treatment here, such cover offers nothing over and above an EHIC, so is effectively valueless – other than to the insurance company which sold the policy, of course. As the recent case demonstrates, people buy in good faith, and only find out the problem when they are already in difficulties. Check before you pay, and certainly before you travel, that any holiday insurance will cover private healthcare if assistance is needed abroad, and does not restrict treatment only to the state provision.