The Gibraltar Insurance Association (GIA) have noted the Government press release dated 28 June 2022 in respect to the end of reciprocal healthcare arrangements with Spain with effect from 1 July 2022. We further note that given the wide variety of insurance coverages available in the market, there is risk that individuals select inappropriate cover for their needs and we would like to highlight some of the risks that need to be considered and some of the key differences in insurance products.

Risks of entering Spain without private insurance coverage

As a result of Brexit, and with effect from 1 July 2022, Gibraltar residents will no longer have free access to the Spanish healthcare system for emergency treatment in the event of an accident or falling seriously ill. If the worst happens, individuals will therefore be liable for the full cost of their treatment in Spain. While healthcare costs vary considerably depending on the nature of the treatment, it is not unusual for some procedures to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, particularly in complex cases and where repatriation back to Gibraltar may prove difficult due to the seriousness of the condition.

In addition to the financial burden, this will be stressful for the individual and/or close family and friends as they manage a foreign healthcare system and may be asked to make difficult medical decisions.

Benefits of insurance

Depending on the cover you choose and the coverage limits (see below), insurance will cover for emergency medical cover to address the financial obligation. Many will provide assistance services, so that you will not be alone in navigating the medical complexities in this stressful time.

Types of insurance

The GIA encourages all locally resident individuals who wish to travel to Spain to speak with their insurance broker, either to ensure their existing coverage is appropriate or to purchase cover appropriate for them.

Notwithstanding this, the two main types of cover that may arise are travel insurance and international health insurance.

  • Travel insurance will typically cover emergency treatment only while you are away on holiday, as an example, with the focus being on repatriation to Gibraltar as soon as practicable. Typical conditions of the policy may include a geographical exclusion (for example, the cover only applies beyond a certain distance from Gibraltar) and/or the need for a pre-booked overnight stay. This type of cover is therefore typically appropriate for longer stays rather than day trips in the local area. If you have existing travel insurance cover, we advise that you check if you are covered for a day trip.
  • International health insurance typically have wider coverage than travel insurance and will cover treatment within a defined geographical area, perhaps solely within Spain, Europe or globally. This treatment may include repatriation cover, but will generally cover treatment in private facilities within the geographic areas stipulated in the policy. As a result this type of cover is usually more expensive than travel insurance. This cover will normally cover day trips, but careful consideration of the policy wording is required.

This notice should not be used as definitive guidance, since individuals needs and policy coverage can be very different. As noted previously, the GIA advise individuals to speak with their insurance broker to assess their current cover and their insurance needs as a result of the Government’s press release.