Medical bills could take 25 years to repay, warns ABI

Travel insurance

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has revealed that some UK travellers could be facing six-figure sums to get treatment abroad, which could take some travellers 25 years to pay off if they do not have insurance.

The figures released by the ABI come from its new guide to travel insurance that it says will help travellers ensure they have the right travel insurance to cover any sky high overseas medical bills and emergency repatriation to get back home. It says that the cost of the average medical claim at £1,300 rose by 40 per cent between 2011 and 2016, and that a total of £200 million is paid out by insurers every year to assist those who have an accident or fall ill whilst abroad.

The ABI points out that the US has some of the highest medical costs, with one patient being billed £768,000 after suffering a stroke – a figure the ABI pointed out would take a person on an annual salary of £27,500 25 years to pay off.

Elsewhere, the ABI says that medical bills have reached £136,000 for complications following an insect bite in Chile, £125,000 to pay for surgery following a jet-ski accident while holidaying in Turkey, and £81,000 to cover the ongoing costs of treating a holidaymaker who contracted pancreatitis in Greece.

“While most travellers enjoy their breaks, falling seriously ill overseas is stressful enough, without the added worry of how to pay for potentially very expensive medical bills,” said Mark Shepherd, assistant director, head of property, commercial and specialist lines at the ABI. “Yet, incredibly, an estimated one in four travellers still travel without insurance, despite the fact that the average cost of a single trip policy can be less than what a family spends on snacks at the airport.”