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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Traveling with your wheelchair

I read recently of the poor man from Cornwall whose wheelchair was damaged on a return flight from Thailand. It reminded me of the importance of having adequate insurance provision at all times and not just when you embark on international travel.

Like buying anything else, there's insurance and there's insurance. Wheelchairs generally warrant having their own specialist insurance particularly when your wheelchair is at all specialist. The other consideration with a specialist wheelchair is that if yours is damaged, how long will it take to get a replacement wheelchair and how will you cope in the meanwhile?

The majority of the wheelchairs we sell are available immediately and do not require a special order nor special build. Prescriptive wheelchairs generally come under this category but not always. There are some models that ate effectively assembled to order and reflect the specific requirements of the wheelchair user. If you come under this category, insurance alone is not going to resolve the situation and a back up wheelchair is always a good plan.

Going back to insuring wheelchairs, it is important to understand that general travel insurance will not provide cover for wheelchairs. Off the shelf insurance doesn't cater for specialist requirements and generally a special endorsement is required to ensure you have the right cover. General advice is to make sure you mention that you are travelling with a wheelchair when you buy insurance and ensure that it is mentioned specifically in the policy document. Also make sure that the single item claim amount is enough to cover your wheelchair, as often it is limited to a sum of £250 or similar.

The man in question had had his very expensive wheelchair damaged in transit and was uninsured. His custom built titanium wheelchair worth £3600 was damaged beyond repair and the local mobility engineer condemned it as a right off. He is now not only without his wheelchair but is also potentially over £3000 out of pocket. No one is being held responsible for the damage.

A quick look at the law shows that under the Montreal Convention, airlines are only liable to pay compensation of up to £1,350 for baggage damaged in the aircraft hold. This is irrespective of whether you can prove that the goods, or wheelchair in this case was not stowed properly during transit.

So wherever you are going for your holidays, whether in the UK or further afield and overseas, please please make sure you have adequate insurance cover and a backup plan for your valuable wheelchair !

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