Travel insurance is a low priority for holidaymakers – but at what cost?

As Brits are looking ahead at travel plans for 2018, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is advising holidaymakers to make sure they are properly insured

With all the excitement that comes with booking a holiday, travel insurance can often be overlooked but heading abroad uninsured can cost thousands of pounds if a trip goes wrong.

The FCDO says holidaymakers could part with £4,000 for medical repatriation aftercare for a heart attack in France or up to £80,000 for an air ambulance due to a fractured hip in Thailand.

But despite these eye-watering costs, their research shows getting the right travel insurance is at the bottom of travellers’ holiday priorities.

The top three biggest concerns for travellers are getting to the airport (18%), going through airport security (20%) and waiting for luggage (11%). Only 2% worry about taking out appropriate travel insurance.

When it comes to sun-seekers aged over 50, 72% plan to travel abroad in 2018 and half of this group identify themselves as having a pre-existing medical condition.

Research shows that:

  • Price is the most important factor for over 55s when considering whether to buy travel cover (23%) 
  • 1 in 20 have knowingly not declared their medical condition due to the increased cost of their travel insurance.

The fact is that overseas emergency medical bills far outweigh the average cost of a policy.

Some examples of the costs of repatriation for medical treatment, according to the FCDO, are:

  • A stroke or heart attack repatriation - from £15,000 for an air ambulance in France to £90,000 for an air ambulance in the US
  • A fractured hip – from £15,000 in Spain to £80,000 for an air ambulance in Thailand or the US
  • A fractured arm – from £1,000 in France and Spain to £7,000 in the US
  • An ear infection – from £500 in France to £2,000 in the US.

Julia Longbottom, Consular Director at the FCDO, said: “Arranging travel insurance should be at the top of your holiday essentials before heading overseas. Travellers are losing thousands of pounds in medical bills and their families are having to find the money to help cover the cost or even repatriate them.

“Having the appropriate travel insurance in place will help ensure that you get the support you need, should something go wrong overseas. It can make all the difference and allow you to relax and enjoy your holiday.” Having a pre-existing medical condition doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get cover, but it’s important you tell your insurer otherwise they won’t be covered.

Make sure you:

  • Answer questions about your medical history fully and honestly
  • Read your policy documents carefully and take note of any exclusions
  • Think about the destination you are travelling to – the price of medical care can vary from country to country, which will be reflected in the price of insurance.

Many people believe they’re covered just by having a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) but this only provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area.

It doesn’t cover potentially very expensive costs such as bringing patients back to the UK, mountain rescue if you’re skiing, additional accommodation expenses or lost/stolen property.