Hospitalised abroad without travel insurance, who foots the bill?

By , October 5, 2011 12:09 pm
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In short, if you don’t have travel insurance, the answer is you or perhaps your family if you’re lucky. However a recent survey by ABTA, the Travel Association has worryingly revealed that 21% of people wrongly believe that the UK Government will cover the costs.

The poll by ABTA has revealed some shocking statistics regarding UK travellers and their travel insurance buying habits.

ABTA’s survey has revealed that one in five, 20% of travellers, are running the risk of sky high medical bills when travelling abroad through not taking out travel insurance in spite of recent high profile cases highlighting the significant risks of doing so to both health and finances.

This fact may be partly explained by 21% mistakenly believing that the UK Government will cover their bills in the event that something goes wrong. One in four, 25% of 15-24 year olds think that this is the case.

Medical treatment abroad can be very expensive and to avoid being faced with large bills if taken ill or after having an accident, the Foreign Office urges people to take out a comprehensive travel insurance policy every time they go away. Although the Foreign Office can provide support and assistance if you are hospitalised abroad, they do not foot the bill.

A recent case of an uninsured man having a motorcycle accident Bali draws attention to how high those costs can be. The man’s family are facing bills in excess of £120,000 for medical treatment and a further £110,000 for an air ambulance to fly him home.

The survey also revealed that 17% of respondents also mistakenly believe that travel insurance is unnecessary when travelling in Europe if they have a European Health Insurance Card.

This is not the case, because although an EHIC card entitles you to basic free state health care in the country you are travelling to, this is unlikely to be of the same standard that you would receive on the NHS and it does not cover repatriation back to the UK. Which means that you could find yourself stranded in a foreign hospital for months on end, or footing an expensive bill for air ambulance transport back to the UK.

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