It’s hard to overstate the value of having travel insurance in place every time you head abroad for your well-earned holiday. As well as ensuring you receive the overseas medical care you need in the event of an emergency and arranging any repatriation (if medically necessary), it also offers you other benefits to protect you from being out of pocket. This could be covering costs to replace a lost passport, stolen personal possessions, or even travel delays or missed connections.*
But what if the worst should happen and you’re uninsured?
Medical travel insurance claims
Many British travellers are still setting off on their holidays without adequate travel insurance; 22% travelled uninsured in 2016, while this rose to 25% in 2017, according to comparison website Finder.com. At the same time, the number of travel insurance claims processed in 2016 was the highest since 2010, which was the year the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull caused widespread travel chaos totalling £369 million in claims.
UK holidaymakers are certainly making use of travel insurance when they have it; over 490,000 individuals and families claimed in 2016. Also, the Telegraph recently reported that “According to data from trade body the Association of British Insurers, the average travel insurance medical claim between 2011 and 2016 was £1,300, but this number can easily run far higher”. Statistics like these clearly demonstrate that the peace of mind travel insurance provides is more than worth the price of a travel insurance premium – but what could overseas healthcare cost you without this protection in place?
Of course, it is vitally important to declare all existing medical conditions when taking out a travel insurance policy. Not doing so, or declaring a condition incorrectly could lead to a potential claim being refused, leaving you with the burden of paying for any costs incurred.
If you are in any doubt about declaring a medical condition, our team of UK-based experts have extensive experience and are on the end of the phone, ready to help. You can reach them on 0800 170 7704 Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, closed bank holidays. Alternatively, you can send any questions directly to Mary Holt, our specialist medical travel insurance manager.
How much could a medical emergency abroad cost?
Depending on where you visit, medical care around the world can be expensive. Many countries offer less in terms of statutory healthcare than we are used to being able to access for free on the NHS, and provide mainly private or partly-private medical care.
For example, the USA is fantastically-diverse holiday destination and a big favourite with British travellers, but healthcare there, although generally excellent, can be hugely costly. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website notes the case of a UK tourist who was treated for an emergency stomach infection in the US. The cost of treatment plus return flights back to the UK cost £100,000. Finders.com lists the cost of the largest claim uncovered by their research as a staggering £760,000, which was claimed for after a British traveller visiting the US needed treatment for a stroke and an air ambulance back to the UK.
These are extreme cases, but even trips to destinations closer to home can result in high claims costs. According to the FCO, a moped accident in Greece, which left a UK tourist needing surgery and repatriation back to the UK, cost £25,000, while a tourist who fell and broke a hip while on holiday in Spain and required a stay in hospital and flights home, claimed for £15,000. Also, the ABI highlight that an air ambulance from Majorca could set you back more than £25,000.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can help to ensure you receive free or state-funded healthcare in many European countries, but it’s important to understand that it does not cover every eventuality. Neither private medical care or repatriation costs are covered by the EHIC, nor will it cover the cost of mountain rescue if you are skiing and need medical help, which is why having travel insurance is so vital.
Protect yourself from overseas medical costs
Of course, while avoiding the expense of overseas healthcare is a big incentive for having travel insurance, there’s much more that it can offer. At Free Spirit, we understand that the most important purpose of our specialist travel insurance is to cover travellers of any age who may have pre-existing health conditions or disabilities, and subsequently to allow them the reassurance to explore the world.
We’re there to support our customers throughout their travels, with a 24-hour a day, 365-day a year dedicated medical emergency helpline. Our medical travel insurance can be adapted to suit a single trip or multiple trips over the course of a year, covers a wide range of sports and activities, and includes cancellation cover, so you won’t lose out on money already spent on flights or accommodation if you cannot travel due to your health**. We can also cover you for loss or damage to medical aids, prescribed medications and travel documents, personal accident, personal liability and after care at home following a stay in hospital.
View our summary of cover for a full breakdown of what’s included with our specialist travel insurance, or if you’d like to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or get a quote and cover today!
*Cover will vary from insurer to insurer and will be subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.