Take cover – the latest advice from ABI

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A woman with a broken ankle receives her medical bill
Travel insurance

Some alarming figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) have highlighted the staggering cost of medical treatment that UK travellers accrue when abroad

According to the ABI, an analysis of 500,000 travel insurance claims made last year reveals that one UK traveller needs emergency medical treatment abroad every three minutes, and that medical bills are at their highest for eight years – totaling £209 million paid out across the year by insurers, which equates to £570,000 per day.

The ABI also uncovered that, of the £399 million paid out on all travel insurance claims, medical claims accounted for 52 per cent of claim costs, cancellation costs for 36 per cent, and lost baggage or money for four per cent.

As a response, and likely a means of jolting lackadaisical travellers into purchasing appropriate travel insurance, the ABI has released statistical resources that highlight the average costs of medical services in different countries. For example, a cruise traveller in China who suffers a brain hemorrhage, including an air ambulance back to the UK from Hong Kong, can expect to accrue £200,000 in medical costs, the ABI notes. And the medical cost of treating a broken arm in San Francisco, US can be a whopping £241,000.

“For too many people, holidays can become horror days, if they fall ill or suffer a serious injury abroad,” said Charlie Campbell, ABI’s Manager of Health and Protection. “Needing medical treatment can be stressful wherever you are, without the added worry of how you can afford what can be sky-high medical bills. Yet the average travel insurance policy costs less than what an average family can spend on drinks and food at the airport and will pay emergency medical bills than can easily run into six figures.”

The ABI has also provided some essential safety tips to help keep UK holidaymakers travelling overseas safe and avoid unnecessary medical costs. It notes that UK travellers should take the emergency contact details of their travel insurer when they travel (and not rely on the hotel reception to send them to the correct emergency care provider for their needs, as is the recent trend), check if they are covered by their travel insurance for the activities they are to partake in, declare any pre-existing medical conditions before they travel, and ensure they have a valid EHIC for travelling in Europe – until, as Campbell mentioned, Britain leaves the European Union (EU), thus making it even more vital to have appropriate travel insurance when visiting the EU.

Finally, though it may seem obvious, the ABI urges travellers to take care and stay safe. “Try to avoid putting yourself at any unnecessary risk and always act responsibly,” wrote the ABI. “Generally, travel insurance will not cover accidents if you have not taken reasonable care.”