Guernsey travellers warned to check health insurance

Andrew Ozanne Andrew Ozanne found it difficult to get insurance for visits to the UK

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The absence of a new reciprocal health agreement between Guernsey and the UK has prompted one islander to warn travellers about their insurance.

Andrew Ozanne was denied cover for a trip to the UK because of a pre-existing medical condition.

He warned others in the same position: "Don't travel. You're at risk. It is a serious risk and it is a serious cost."

A previous reciprocal health agreement was terminated by the UK in 2009. Negotiations on a new one are ongoing.

Guernsey's Health minister has said he does not know when, or if, the island will get a new agreement.

Deputy Hunter Adam had hoped to have a deal in place by the end of last year, but talks have been delayed.

A complicating factor has been that ambulance call-outs, GP visits and accident and emergency treatment are not provided free-of-charge to Guernsey residents.

Mr Ozanne, who has diabetes, said his efforts to travel safely had been thwarted by the lack of a new deal.

He said: "I've spoken to my insurers and they do try hard but they can't offer insurance to cover my pre-existing condition.

"I don't anticipate being ill but there's always that risk," he said.

Mr Ozanne said he believed the absence of a new agreement was also causing problems for people travelling the other way.

"I think there's probably a lot of people who'd love to come to Guernsey, who don't once they find out that they could face a very large bill."

Guernsey's Health and Social Services Department has estimated that waiving charges for call-outs, GP visits and A&E for UK visitors, while continuing to charge local residents, would discriminate against islanders and cost the Bailiwick between £500,000 and £1m a year.

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