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Accident hunters can also be found in the Alps. What to watch out for

Just like every year during the spring holidays, thousands of skiers head to the alpine ski resorts. And unfortunately, like every year, there are reports of injuries and accidents that occur on the slopes. On top of ruined holidays, such an unpleasant event can also incur significant financial expenses, which do not have to be covered by your insurance company. This is especially true in cases where you become a victim of the so-called accident hunters - fraudsters from private medical facilities, who charge the injured person huge sums for hospitalization and unnecessary medical procedures.

That is why the Czech Association of Assistance Companies (ČAAS) published a warning before the accident hunters, who can be found especially in Italian and Austrian large ski resorts.

"They take advantage of the fact that the injured person is often in shock or under stress, has no experience with the given situation, the language barrier can also play its role. The hunters willingly offer him a transport to a nearby private medical facility. They will suggest over-standard treatment or even surgery, which may be redundant or completely unnecessary, given the condition of the injured person. Subsequently, they require an immediate payment, which does not have to be reimbursed by the insurance company back in the Czech Republic. The client is then forced to pay them out of his own pocket," sums up Aleš Povr from ČAAS.

The most common unfair practices include the overestimation of prices of particular treatments so that they significantly exceed the costs that are normal in the given region. They also includes unnecessary actions (for example, magnetic resonance imaging) or operations that are not necessary or urgent in the given case.

Contact the assistance company at all times

Anyone planning a skiing vacation abroad should have a good travel insurance that includes insurance limits not only for medical expenses, but also for assistance services. In the event of any accident, it is highly recommended to contact the assistance service, whose details are listed on the card that you will receive when arranging the insurance policy. The assistance service will then search for the nearest suitable medical facility, arrange for an interpreter (if necessary), inform your relatives and arrange for their transport to you. It will also provide for your transportation back home and legal assistance (if needed).

"Most of us do not have the necessary experience and medical practice to recognize whether the proposed treatment is adequate. Therefore, it is definitely recommended to consult

the whole situation with trustworthy experts from the assistance service. They can also assess whether the client is capable of being transported his/her home country or whether it is more appropriate for them be hospitalized in a state medical facility abroad," adds Povr.

In areas frequented by tourists, assistance companies have created a network of local doctors and medical facilities, the assistance of which is fully covered by the travel insurance.

Liability insurance is a must

When choosing travel insurance, every skier should also think about "foolproof insurance", i.e. liability insurance for damages with a high insurance limit (at least

15 million crowns, i.e. 630 thousand euros is recommended).

Accidents on the slopes are frequent, and if it happens as a result of your fault and causes a damages to another skier, the liability insurance covers both the expenses for the medical treatment and hospitalization, as well as the damage compensation. Without an agreed liability insutance, the damage compensations goes

out of the pocket of the culprit and can go into millions.

However, accident hunters can appear in these situations as well and offer the legal representation enabling the participant to claim the compensation or to avoid the liability for damage. In such cases, the proposed remuneration is unusually high and the insurance company will probably refuse to reimburse it.

"In such situations, it is necessary to remain calm, not to sign any documents on the spot, and despite possible pressure not to admit respnsibility for the damage - because in reality you don't have to be responsible at all," adds Povr.

Also in this case, it is necessary to contact an assistance company as soon as possible. Its representative can arrange for a legal assistance and advise on how to proceed correctly in the given case.

Things to remember:

  1. Before the trip, arrange for a high-quality travel insurance with a sufficiently high limit of insurance coverage. It is recommended that the limit of medical expenses should reach at least 5 million Czech crowns (210 thousand euros) and the limit of liability insurance for damages at least 15 million Czech crowns (630 thousand euros).

  2. Check the range of assistance services included in the travel insurance, as well as the extent of insured risks and exceptions with regard to planned sports activities.

  3. In the event of an accident or injury, immediately contact the assistance company of the insurance company with whom you have arranged the travel insurance. The representatives of the assistance company will be in contact with you all the time and will arrange for all necessary medical and legal services. They will also advise you on what documents are needed for reimbursement of costs from the insurance company.

  4. The operators of the assistance service speak Czech/English and are available around the clock.

  5. Assistance companies have their own medical professionals and doctors who are able to provide the professional advice to the client if needed.

  6. If you are paying for treatment, hospitalization or medical procedures abroad, request a medical report and a bill for the amount paid. Keep the documents carefully for the purposes of claiming reimbursement of these costs from your insurance company.

  7. In situations where you may be required to compensate the damage caused, contact an assistance company so that it can arrange for a legal assistance.


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