Travel health: the assurance of insurance

If you're tempted to skimp on your travel insurance, it could prove a false economy. Medical emergencies abroad can cost holidaymakers more than they bargained for.

According to rather alarming figures shared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), one in four of us travels abroad without insurance (24 per cent), rising to one in two (48 per cent) in the 15 to 24 age bracket.

In 2011/2012 alone, 3,793 Brits – that's 10 people a day – were admitted to hospital while abroad. What many of these holidaymakers may fail to realise is that repatriation to the UK, following a medical emergency or accident, will not be paid for by the British Embassy or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

To put these into context, individuals have run up some hefty medical bills abroad, including:

  • £100,000 for hospital treatment for a stomach bug/infection, with return flights from California;
  • £15,000 for hospital treatment for a broken hip (following a fall), with return flights from Spain.

Common health claims

Even when it comes to more run-of-the-mill ailments, all too often a bout of ill health can quickly take the shine off a holiday. The claims that travel insurers process year in, year out, paint a vivid picture. In no particular order, some of the most frequent claims include:

  • Holiday cancelled due to illness (or family member's illness)
  • Mosquito or other insect bites
  • Food poisoning, gastroenteritis
  • Ear infection
  • Heat stroke, sun stroke, sunburn
  • Traffic accident, moped injury
  • Broken or twisted ankle (trip on uneven pavement)

Taking out a comprehensive travel insurance policy will give you peace of mind and helps reduce the impact of any nasty surprises that might crop up while you're away.

Suggested reading

Travelling with a health condition

Top 5 things to know about travel insurance

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