Inter Partner Assistance has launched a scheme to deal with Spanish travel policy claims on the spot.

The company has established a UK cell in its Barcelona office. British staff are working with a Spanish team, including doctors, providing a service which aims to benefit from full awareness of local suppliers, geography and culture.

With local medical management, claims costs have reduced and valuable relationships with hospitals and clinics have been secured.

Inter Partner Assistance is using this as a basis to develop a network of preferred providers in early 2000 with scales of charges agreed in advance to ensure ongoing savings for insurers.

About 40% of cases handled by Inter Partner Assistance originate from Spain, which reflects the UK travel pattern.

Travel business manager Tim Jury said: "Client feedback has been spontaneous and very good."

Inter Partner Assistance expects over 2,400 Spanish medical emergency cases by the end of this year.