It’s the triathlon European Championships in Lisbon this weekend, and hundreds of age groupers are making their final preparations. Bikes are packed, flights are booked, and training tapers have come to razor sharp points.
And it’s not just the European Championships that we have been preparing for of course. With the triathlon season well under way, triathletes are heading out across Europe and further afield for everything from training weekends to Ironman.
One part of our travel preparation always seems to cause confusion, however. As British Triathlon Federation members, we know we receive insurance through our Home Nation Membership, but what does this insurance actually cover? Is it enough on its own if we are racing abroad, or is there anything else we need to know?
It goes without saying that membership doesn’t cover your bike, but one thing it does cover is third party liability. If someone makes a claim against you, be it a driver for scratching their car or a pedestrian injured in a collision, you are covered up to £10 million for any costs you might be liable to pay to them.
It’s there to give peace of mind while riding in the UK or abroad. Just bear in mind, there is a £250 excess, so the first £250 of a claim against you, you will have to pay yourself.
Third party insurance is fairly straight forward, but where we’ve seen many getting confused in the past is over another element of cover the BTF provide – ‘Personal Accident Insurance’.
The personal accident insurance which comes with your BTF membership is a policy that the insurance industry would describe as a ‘fixed benefit payment policy’. While this description seems unnecessarily wordy, it makes sense once you look at how these policies work.
If you have a serious injury while riding, you will receive a predetermined payout. In effect, a compensation for the injury that goes to you or your family. For example, if you fall off and loose the hearing in one ear, the policy will pay you £12,500 as compensation. The full list of benefits are as follows:
What are the benefits?
Hospitalisation cash payment – £25 per night for up to 60 nights (excluding 1st night)
|Officials** Limit||Individuals Limit|
|Lump Sum Benefit for Death (20% for under 16s)||£10,000||£5,000|
|Permanent Total Disablement*||£50,000||£50,000|
|Loss of Limbs, Eyes, Speech, Hearing||£50,000||£50,000|
|Loss of Hearing in one ear||£12,500||£12,500|
|Emergency Dental Costs||Max £5,000||Max £5,000|
Crucially, the personal accident insurance isn’t covering medical costs if you are injured abroad.
If you are competing abroad, have a crash, and end up in hospital, it’s not covering your medical bills. If your injury is serious enough for you to be repatriated back to the UK, the costs involved in that are not covered either.
Whilst the personal accident insurance has a Worldwide Territorial Limit this is not a substitute for a comprehensive travel insurance policy, which should include medical expenses, repatriation and cancellation/curtailment while training, racing, or riding.
What about EHIC cards?
A European Health Insurance Card entitles you to free care in public hospitals within the European Union. It is part of an agreement among EU nations. “If my citizen gets injured while visiting your county, our healthcare system will pay your health care system for the medical bills.”
This sounds like it would be perfect for competing abroad. The trouble is, we are constantly underestimating just how good the NHS is. We take for granted the fact that if we get injured or sick, we can wander into the closest hospital and be treated for free at the point of use.
In most of Europe, particularly the Alps, Southern Spain and Mallorca where many of us love to ride, access to public hospitals is much more restricted, and in many of these areas there are no public hospitals at all.
You’re left with the choice of a private hospital (where the EHIC isn’t valid) or bandaging up your broken arm with napkins from the hotel restaurant until you can get yourself home.
So what insurance do you need to race abroad?
The advice is to get yourself cycle travel insurance that covers the costs of emergency medical care and repatriation if you are injured while racing. Travel insurance will come with features like lost luggage and missed flights which are often very useful, but it is the first two that really matter to Triathletes.
There are plenty of insurance companies about. There’s a good chance you are paying for an annual policy as part of your bank account. The trick though is to very carefully check the exclusions on the policy, and if in any doubt, call them to double check or read our guide to travel insurance here.
You need to make sure that the emergency medical care covers triathlon racing, that the distance you will be competing over isn’t excluded, and it is valid in the country you are visiting.