British Embassies rescue thousands of uninsured nationals during the pandemic
More than 6,500 uninsured British travellers needed emergency government help abroad at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic – according to research from travel insurance provider Insurancewith
At the height of the pandemic in 2020, Foreign Office statistics – released after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request – show that 6,545 British travellers who went abroad without travel insurance needed help from British embassies, consulates, and other emergency agencies.
This compared with 2,623 the year before – reflecting a 150% increase in calls for help. In 2021 the figure was 1,788, showing a significant reduction in overseas travel.
Those who found themselves seriously ill with Covid-19 while abroad were often stuck overseas for weeks, and in some cases months, at a time, just as repatriation services struggled to cope with the influx. Overwhelmed hospitals back in the UK were also cautious about accepting British patients travelling from overseas due to fears over Covid-19.
Additionally, the number of medical escorts prepared to travel internationally and carry out repatriation support also reduced because of the mandatory quarantine measures, both abroad and once they arrived back in the UK, making transporting sick patients almost impossible.