30th June 2022, 20:22
Insurance providers in Gibraltar are experiencing a high volume of requests and enquiries following the news this week that Gibraltar residents will no longer be eligible for free medical care in Spain.
This follows Spain’s decision not to extend the bridging measure which had, until today, ensured reciprocal, free health care for Gibraltarians in Spain, and Spaniards in Gibraltar.
As from tomorrow Friday July 1st, all residents in Gibraltar are responsible for their own insurance and healthcare coverage in Spain, as well as the rest of Europe - even in the event of an emergency or accident.
People have expressed concern at what this could mean in terms of cost.
Two main options
GBC understands there are two main options.
A medical insurance policy would cover healthcare costs required in the event of an emergency or accident. Most will include cover for costs incurred outside your country of residence, but it’s worth checking. This is a relatively expensive option.
As an indication of cost, one insurer told us that a basic policy for a family of two adults and two children could easily cost over £6500 a year, depending on the ages of the applicants and the options chosen.
The second type of coverage should be far cheaper. Travel insurance for a family of four could start at between £150 and £350 a year, depending on the ages of the applicants and the options chosen.
GBC understands that this second option, travel insurance, is the one most residents are opting for. Many are taking out annual travel insurance that will provide medical emergency cover.
Travel insurance is available for Gibraltar Residents through individual private policies or sometimes attached to other products such as credit cards or bank accounts. Some insurers restrict cover to having overnight stays booked in the country you are going to whilst other providers will provide cover for day trips as well, irrespective of the time you are spending away from Gibraltar.
In the past two days, people in Gibraltar who already had travel insurance have been checking to see whether day trips to Spain are covered, which would apply to many excursions across the border. If you have an insurance policy or are thinking of getting one, you should check whether or not day trips are covered. There are a number of insurers in Gibraltar offering travel insurance that includes day trips.
Insurers have also pointed out to us that cover may be on a reimbursement basis. It means people taking out an insurance who need to access healthcare in Spain, or elsewhere, may need to cover the costs of this themselves in the first instance and then claim those monies back - unless direct arrangements between the insurer and the medical providers have been made.
What about motor insurance, is that relevant to this discussion?
One insurer told us fully comprehensive motor insurance would normally provide a limited amount of medical expenses and emergency cover as an extension to the policy as a result of an accident. Another suggested most motor insurance options would not cover the driver’s own medical costs in the event of an accident, but it would normally cover legal liability for injury or damage to others.
There is also a question over whether medical insurance covers those with pre-existing conditions, and residents of a certain age. Again, there is no one answer to this – insurance companies offer a variety of policies, and individuals should enquire as to their own situations.
Insurance companies are working hard to deal with the current surge of enquiries following this week’s news, trying to answer people’s questions and provide cover as quickly as possible.
Those contemplating this extra cost now won’t be feeling any better about the decision by the 52% in the UK who narrowly voted in 2016 to leave the EU. Especially given the UK deal with the EU entitles UK citizens to free cover that includes pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care as well as emergency care.