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A traveller consults a doctor for medical advice
Travel insurance

In a move that seems most counterintuitive, it appears that a large number of tourists have been seeking medical advice from their hotel receptions rather than their insurance providers while travelling abroad

New research from AXA Insurance revealed that only seven per cent of tourists would call their travel insurer in the first instance if they had a serious medical issue and needed to find the nearest hospital. Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they would ask their hotel reception for help if they needed to find a pharmacy; 47 per cent would do the same if they required a doctor; 37 per cent for a hospital; and 36 per cent if they didn’t know what treatment they needed.

In comparison, only eight per cent would contact their insurer in the first instance if they required a pharmacy; 10 per cent for a doctor and nine per cent if they didn’t know what they needed.

“These results confirm our concerns that tourists are over-relying on hotels for medical advice, even in scenarios where it’s so serious that they need a hospital,” said Nel Mooy, Head of Travel at AXA Insurance, commenting on the staggering findings. “As travel insurers, we are here to help you with any medical issue you have abroad, no matter how big or small. Our team of expert medical staff regularly reviews facilities around the world, including private and public hospitals, to ensure our customers get the best treatment possible.”

Mooy added that insurers are able to liaise with hospitals and medical staff on the customer’s behalf, as well as offering additional support, settling claims directly and getting them back to the UK if necessary. "While we hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday this summer,” she said. “if something does go wrong, we would like to remind customers to always call your travel insurer for medical advice in the first instance.”

The results of AXA’s research reflect a rather worrying trend. After purchasing a policy, and upon requiring medical advice, why do some consumers fail to contact their insurer? Is it down to a lack of confidence in an insurer’s local medical knowledge in a time of panic, or could it simply be that many consumers aren’t aware of what is included in their travel insurance policy? Either way, it’s clear that more needs to be done to ensure the insurer is the first port of call when customers require medical advice and assistance.