Travel insurance and health
- Get comprehensive travel insurance that covers all your planned activities.
- Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip a minimum of eight weeks before you leave.
- Bring enough medication for your stay, and extra in case of delays.
- If travelling within the EU, renew or apply for a European Health Insurance Card.
- Learn about any specific health risks in the country you are visiting.
The Department cannot pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you have not broken the terms and conditions.
Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.
Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.
Make sure that you have saved the contact information for your insurance provider before you depart, including any emergency assistance details, and have this information to hand should you need it while abroad.
Your policy should cover:
- All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
- Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you are making more than one trip in the year.
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
- Personal liability cover (in case you are sued for causing injury or damaging property).
- Lost and stolen possessions.
- Cancellation and curtailment.
- Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports. See comprehensive water safety advice from Water Safety Ireland).
Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.
European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
As an Irish resident you are entitled to receive healthcare through the public system in countries of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay there. Ensure that you get or renew your EHIC (the new name for the E111) before you go, and remember, you need one for every person travelling in your group.
The EHIC is not a substitute for proper travel insurance provided by a reputable insurer. It does not cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC, so you should check with the hospital administrator beforehand.
Check with a doctor what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. You can find out more information about vaccinations on the HSE’s website.
Evidence of vaccination (in the form of a certificate) can be a requirement for entry to some countries.
Make sure you bring enough medication for your entire trip and for any unexpected delays. Bring copies of your prescription in case you lose your medication, or in case you are asked to justify why you have certain medications at an entry point (airport, port, land border etc.).
Bear in mind that not all over-the-counter medications available in Ireland are legal in other countries and do your research before you go. Check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the country you are planning to visit if you are unsure which medications you may be able to bring with you.
Water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery are common in some countries. Consult with a health professional before you travel to assess what precautions you may need to take, take local advice on good practice, and use bottled water, or boil water as necessary.
If you are travelling to a destination where mosquitoes are a problem, you’ll need to take precautions against mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Before travelling, get medical advice on anti-malarial medication.
These simple tips can greatly reduce your risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease:
- Find out from local people when local mosquitoes are most likely to be biting.
- Avoid areas where mosquitoes are likely to congregate (i.e. stagnant water).
- Wear appropriate clothing: long-sleeved shirts, long trousers, boots and socks.
- Protect your room: Mosquito bites can be reduced by air conditioning, insect-proof screens etc.
- Protect your bed: Bed nets and cot nets should be used if rooms are not adequately screened or air conditioned.
- Use insect Repellents: The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of DEET as a mosquito repellent, including by pregnant women. Ensure to A) use it sparingly, and B) wash it off when away from risk of biting mosquitoes, as it is a chemical applied to the skin.
HIV and AIDS
HIV is passed from one person to another through the direct exchange of bodily fluids. The best way to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is to restrict bodily contact by practising safe sex and not sharing needles.
If you suspect that you have been exposed, you should seek immediate medical attention. It is sometimes possible to halt the development of HIV in the first 72 hours after exposure.
This is known as post exposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP involves taking anti-HIV medicines for four weeks. PEP is not guaranteed to work and the medicines that are used cause some unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and headaches.
More information about PEP and HIV/AIDs is available on the HSE website