UK insurers burden rising medical costs

Travel insurance

UK travel insurers paid out around £3.9 million a week for the medical treatment of Brits abroad last year – the highest amount for six years.

According to new research from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 159,000 British tourists needed medical treatment when abroad last year, with the total costs for travel insurers reaching a total of £201 million. Despite this, one in five Brits say that they travelled overseas last year without travel insurance.

The ABI has reminded travellers about the high cost of treatment when away, especially in the US and on cruises, pointing them towards the case where a 15-day stay in a US hospital on a ventilator after a stroke cost around £233,000, while a man who suffered a heart attack on a cruise ship racked up a bill of £202,000 after having to be evacuated by air ambulance.

Of the total 510,000 travel insurance claims dealt with last year, the 159,000 medical expenses accounted for 52 per cent of claims costs, cancellations accounted for 38 per cent and lost baggage or money for four per cent, according to the ABI.

“Falling seriously ill overseas is stressful enough, without the added fear of how to pay for sky high medical bills,” said Charlie Campbell, Senior Policy Adviser, Protection, Health and Travel at the ABI. “Yet unbelievably, an estimated one in five people admit to having travelled overseas without travel insurance, especially when it can cost less than the average family meal while abroad. Should the worst happen, and you need emergency medical treatment, travel insurance can literally be a lifesaver.”