Average medical insurance claim abroad rises 40% in five years

The average medical insurance claim for UK travellers abroad increased by 40% between 2011 and 2016 to £1,300, according to research by the Association for British insurers (ABI).

It shows that travel insurers pay out £200m a year helping 150,000 Britons in need of emergency medical treatment, with six-figure bills now not uncommon.

The US was found to have some of the highest medical costs, with one claim, which included an air ambulance back to Britain, reaching £768,000 this year.

“One-in-four people 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,” ABI assistant director, Mark Shepard, said.

“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.”

Other examples of medical insurance claims made by British travellers include:

• £252,000 to treat a brain haemorrhage and broken shoulder suffered by a traveller when he fell off a cycle in the US

 £136,000 for treating complications following an insect bite in Chile, including paying for a nurse to escort the traveller home

• £81,000 to cover ongoing costs of treating a holidaymaker who contracted pancreatitis in Greece

 £60,000 to treat injuries sustained in a road accident in El Salvador, including £33,000 for an air ambulance back to the UK.

When travelling in Europe, the free European Health Insurance Card gives access to state-provided healthcare available to a resident.

However, the ABI warns that this is not an adequate substitute to having travel insurance, and will not cover all medical costs, or the price of emergency repatriation back to the UK.

“With a wide range of competitively priced policies available, shop around, don’t forget to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, and remember that the cheapest policy may not be best for your needs,” Shepard added.





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