Extreme sports expats caught by health insurance small print

Published:  14 Feb at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Euro, England
Expat adrenaline junkies who spend their weekends indulging in extreme sports activities are being advised to read the small print on their medical insurance policies.

A recent survey revealed that half of the expats who took part were keen on extreme sports such as rock-climbing, whitewater rafting, kitesurfing, quad biking, hang gliding, off-piste skiing or even martial arts training. The survey, undertaken by an international medical insurance company, also revealed that the majority of insurers don’t cover such sports.

As is usual with insurance policies, the sting in the tail is usually confined to the small print, which few people bother to read. As a result, when disaster strikes, it’s often financial as well as physical.

For example, AXAPPP will not cover injuries sustained from martial arts, climbing, flying, base jumping, cliff diving and mountaineering. In addition, if you’re planning to trek in high mountains or go bungee jumping, microlighting, parachuting, potholing, canyoning or paragliding, don’t insure with AXAPPP.

IMG Europe refuses to cover a similar list of activities as well as diving with breathing apparatus, diving below 30m, and even diving if you have a cold. It would seem the company only covers severe sunburn whilst lying motionless on the beach and, of course, almost all insurers exclude professional sports and organised racing.

Medicare International, InterGlobal and Integra Global seem to take a more relaxed attitude to their expat customers’ weekend activities, covering almost all extreme sports with the exception of professional participation. Expacare doesn’t even mention extreme sports, and Aviv takes a similar position.

It would seem that, unless expat sporting activities are planned well in advance of any move to another country, many are being caught by small-print exclusions. Experts in the field state that international cover is far more complex than its UK equivalent, and suggest that emergency repatriation might also be worth considering as an extra.
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