Cyprus is a popular holiday destination: around a million people visit the island every year. It’s also a destination for activities – water sports, paragliding, zip lines, scuba diving, snorkelling and skiing among them – which can have a high risk of injury. What happens if you sustain a sports-related injury while you’re visiting Cyprus? What cover is available to you?This will depend on whether you are covered by the national health system of Cyprus; are a member of a nation which has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Cyprus, such as the UK; or if you have full private health cover with a policy that has a clause for sports-related injuries. It also depends on the seriousness of your injury: from severe spinal damage to a wrenched ankle, for example.
If you are from a EU member state, you will also be able to use your EHIC card, but only in the Greek part of the island: the EHIC is not applicable in the Turkish part.
If you are badly injured and it is an emergency, you will be entitled to treatment at a Cypriot hospital. We will look below at any costs you might incur, and, if you are a visitor and not a Cypriot resident, how to make a compensation claim when you return to your home country.
What cover is available for residents of Cyprus?
If you are working for a company based in Cyprus, your employer should register you with Gesy, the national scheme, but make sure that they have done so.
If you are a resident and covered under Gesy, you will be able to access treatment for any sports-related injuries. Serious cases will be treated in hospital, but you will also be covered for visits to your GP. You may need to pay for physiotherapy, but check this with your doctor: they may refer you to a specialist, depending on the nature of your injury.
What cover is available for visitors to Cyprus?
If you are visiting the island, it is strongly recommended that you take out full private cover and do not rely solely on your EHIC card, if you have one. In this case, if you do sustain an injury, you will need to contact your health insurance provider and check that treatment will be covered under the terms of your policy. If so, then your provider may be able to pay for your healthcare treatment directly, but check this with the hospital as they may ask you to pay in cash and then claim the money back from your insurance company once you return to your home nation.
Note that there are time limits in place with most insurers for compensation claims; you will not be able to retroactively claim compensation for an injury suffered many years ago, for example. The limit for claims made in the UK for injuries sustained in Cyprus is currently three years.
You do not need to seek legal help in Cyprus if you are intending to sue the organization which may have been responsible for your injury, for example in cases of negligence, poor instructor training or faulty equipment. Bringing cases against organisations abroad is often problematic, but your insurance provider should be able to advise, or you can obtain legal help once you are back in your home nation. You can also contact your consulate or High Commission in Cyprus.
Make sure that you take notes relating to your treatment: the name of the hospital, the name of the doctor, the time and place of your injury, the nature of your injury, and that you keep any medical bills that you receive: you will need to forward this information to your insurance provider in order to maximize the chances of success of your claim.
Check that your existing health insurance policy covers you for repatriation: many policies do not.
Where to seek treatment in Cyprus
There are hospitals in the big urban centres across the island, such as Nicosia and Limassol: around 75 private hospitals/clinics, along with a number of smaller providers. There are also a number of clinics which specialize in the treatment of sports-related injuries. Some spa centres have rehabilitation programmes and can register you with a qualified physiotherapist who can diagnose your injury and provide you with a course of treatment.
How much will treatment cost?
This depends on the nature of the injury, but for a one-day stay in a private hospital, you would be charged in the region of €100 – 200.
For routine injuries, such as a pulled muscle, you would be looking at:
• €15 for a visit to a GP
• €30 for a visit to a specialist
There is also a fee of €10 for emergency treatment in an accident and emergency unit.
Private clinics charge in the region of €40 for a 30 minute physiotherapy consultation, followed by roughly the same amount for a 30 minute session of treatment. Some clinics will also undertake an assessment for insurance purposes for around €50.
How much could I claim?
Again, this depends on the nature of your injury and the time and expertise required to treat it, but for a minor to severe leg injury, you would be looking at compensation in the region of up to €247,000. A minor to severe ankle injury would be around up to €12,000 – €61,000. A minor to severe back injury is in the region of €2,150 – €141,000, and a minor head injury €2,000 to £11,000.
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