48% of Brits not aware that without travel insurance they risk large medical bills

By , July 20, 2012 10:08 am
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New figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) highlight common misconceptions over who will foots the bill for medical treatment abroad.

A survey of 2000 British holidaymakers, conducted on behalf of the FCO, showed that almost half (48%) did not realise that without travel insurance they would be liable to pay for their own medical bills if they were injured or taken ill abroad.

Plus, when asked about their ability to cover medical costs for a loved one who had travelled without insurance, 78% of people admitted that they would not have the money to hand to cover a £10,000 hospital bill.

A medical emergency abroad can be extremely expensive and if you don’t have valid travel insurance in place, medical bills can quickly mount up to thousands of pounds.

Foreign Office staff witness a number of distressing cases every year involving families having to raise vast sums of money to pay hospital and repatriation bills for their loved ones who did not have travel insurance to cover cost of their medical treatment abroad.

Increase in hospitalisations abroad – 1o Brits hospitalised abroad every day

The FCO has also just released the latest of their annual British Behaviour Abroad which provides figures on the numbers of British nationals they have provided assistance to over the course of the year.

This year’s report has highlighted a significant rise in the number of hospitalisations of British travellers in popular holiday hotspots including Spain, Greece and Egypt. During the year from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2012 approximately 70 British travellers per week were hospitalised abroad – that’s 10 people every day!

Without travel insurance you could be left with a large medical bill

The FCO are hoping that by highlighting this information they can increase awareness amongst the British travelling public about the importance of having comprehensive travel insurance every time they travel abroad.

British nationals who have travelled without travel insurance or have invalidated their travel insurance by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition, or taking part in a sport or activity which was not covered by their policy, will find themselves or their families facing large medical bills if they are hospitalised abroad.

Foreign Office staff are there to offer assistance if you become ill or have an accident, but they do not cover the cost of medical treatment. If you don’t have travel insurance or are not properly covered by your travel insurance you or your family will have to cover the cost of medical treatment.

Jeremy Browne, the Minister for Consular Services said:

“ Whilst the prospect of ending up in a foreign hospital may be the last thing on your mind as you head overseas for a summer break, sometimes things do go wrong on holiday and many people deeply regret not taking out comprehensive travel insurance.

We witness many cases where people have invalidated their policy – perhaps by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition or not checking their policy covers a particular activity, such as hiring a moped. Unfortunately they are then surprised that the Foreign Office cannot pay for their bills and flight home”

Travel Checklist – Don’t go away without doing these 4 things:

– Buy travel insurance

– Declare any pre-existing medical conditions

– Check that any activities or sports are covered by your travel insurance

– Check the latest travel advice from the FCO before you leave the UK

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