With one-in-four of us suffering a stroke in our lifetime, this is vital. Of course, sometimes a stroke will occur abroad and not at home, which is why travel insurance is so hugely important.
More than 1.2m residents of the EU suffer a stroke each year.  In the UK, the figure is around 100,000. With travel being such a large part of our lives and stroke being a sudden and unpredictable occurrence, every traveller should consider the risk they face when they travel without comprehensive travel insurance in their ‘locker’.
Furthermore, whilst strokes have traditionally been associated with over-55s, the number of younger people now suffering strokes is increasing, so the travel insurance message is relevant to all. At Europesure, we can provide that to residents of the UK, EU, EEA, Monaco and Gibraltar, young and old, so there’s no excuse not to take advantage of our well-respected travel insurance policies.
What would happen if you have a stroke overseas?
If you were to suffer a stroke whilst overseas, you would hopefully have someone recognise the signs. These include the face falling on one side and difficulty in smiling, slurred speech and an inability to raise both arms above the head. Swift action is required, so always make sure you know how to contact the most local emergency medical service to where you are holidaying.
If you are staying in a hotel, staff there should be able to help. If not, you may need to call for help yourself, so keep the relevant number at hand.
What would happen in the overseas hospital?
Once in the hospital, the local medical team should be able to assist and, if you have travel insurance, you should be able to tap into the assistance of a team that will talk to the medical staff and translate and communicate on your behalf. This would include making contact with anyone back at home that needs to know about your situation.
The length of your hospital stay will depend on the severity of the stroke and could be a lengthy process. Even if not too severe a stroke, you may well find that your stay extends beyond your intended time in destination, necessitating new accommodation and travel arrangements for loved ones and friends. Then, there are other things to consider for the stroke sufferer themselves.
What would happen in the overseas hospital?
Stroke experts advise that any stroke patient waits at least two weeks before attempting to travel. If you suffer a stroke abroad, the likelihood is that you will need special arrangements. In many cases, this would be by air ambulance, where you could travel under the supervision of an onboard doctor. If you do not have travel insurance to arrange all of this for you, ask yourself how you would manage such things and how could you afford the cover – likely to easily be in five figures?
On the air ambulance, you would benefit from state-of-the-art equipment and all the medication that might be required, should an issue occur. This flight would be arranged as quickly as it is medically advisable for you to travel home and you would have a medical team that speaks your language in charge of your care. Don’t underestimate the value of having that language assistance, if you fall ill and need treatment abroad. Not everyone will speak your native tongue.
Other ways of getting home after a stroke on holiday
In some cases, it might be possible to arrange for you to be transported home on a scheduled flight but that would typically be in a screened-off area, where a medical team could be situated with you. This again needs special expertise to arrange and would only be possible if the airline could accommodate you and would be willing to do so.
In other instances, repatriation in a special and well-equipped road ambulance might be a feasible option, if the journey from your travel destination to your home can be carried out overland. Again, however, you are unlikely to be able to arrange or afford such transport on your own.
Why travel insurance is so important
When you consider all of this, you can perhaps appreciate just how much travel insurance can do for you. Of course, there will be many trips that pass without incident but are you willing to take the risk that nothing will occur? Is it worth it when you consider just how affordable travel insurance can be and what the financial and practical implications of not having a policy in place could be?
If you have already suffered a stroke, it does not mean that travel insurance will no longer cover you. At Europesure, our policies will automatically cover anyone whose medical condition, following a past stroke, has been stable and well-controlled for 60 months (5 years). That would be at no additional premium than the standard policy. If you wished to discuss cover and do not have the 5 years under your belt, that is also possible and an additional premium could be paid.
Don’t ignore the risk of stroke, wherever you travel in the world, or wherever you live in Europe. Watch your health and have an exercise regime which will keep you active. Above all, get the right travel insurance in place before you travel, so that, if the worst occurs, you have the right medical assistance at your fingertips, able to help you navigate the foreign medical arrangements and then get you back home.
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