2nd June 2011 London, UK

Should have, would have, could have, but…

Dean Churm British Consul for Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands writes:

You don’t have to venture far in Florida to hear a British accent.  With over 400,000 British expatriates living in the “Sunshine State” (as it’s affectionately known here) then it’s a fair bet that some of you will be spending time with family and friends living in Florida over the summer holidays.  Whether it’s the glitz of Miami, the thrills of the theme parks in Orlando, or soaking up the sun on the crisp white sandy beaches in Pensacola, an opportunity to experience the American lifestyle is one not to be missed, especially if you can stay in the home of someone you know and trust.  Who needs travel insurance, right?

Whether you have it or not, it’s one of the first things our consular team will ask about when they’re offering help following a hospitalisation.  Often, it’s the look on your face that tells us all we need to know as you realise things are about to get far more complicated, and much more expensive.  As the title of this blog suggests, we often hear the reasoning for not having travel insurance, and it nearly always comes down to the fact that you simply feel safer when staying with family and friends. 

Consider this though; most of the cases we handle occur within a couple of days of arrival.  The pressure is on to spend as much time as you can with loved ones but you’ll be tired as the travelling has taken its toll on you, plus you’ll be waking up in the early hours as your body clock hasn’t adjusted to the time difference yet.  In many cases, especially in the very young and elderly, you’ll be dehydrated from the long plane journey and you haven’t taken account of the hot and humid weather which will only make things worse.  Before you know it, you’ve stumbled as you tried to quietly make your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or fainted under the hot sun in one of the theme parks.  As stupid as it sounds, broken bones and a stay in hospital hooked up to a drip happen all the time.  Your family and friends will expect you to have insurance and won’t know what to do when they learn you haven’t.  They’ll be worried that the hospital will be looking to them to pay the bill.  You’ll be worried too, and that’s when you’ll contact us.

We can’t pay the bill for you but we can provide some practical advice on how to set up a payment plan with the hospital or, in more extreme cases, we can point you in the direction of international funeral directors.  Costs vary depending on the circumstances, but you’ll probably be looking to pay the equivalent of a brand new family car in the UK for a short stay in hospital to much more if your injuries are more serious.  You’ll be kicking yourself (if, of course, you’re able to). 

Visit www.ukinusa.fco.gov.uk;

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