Six figure medical bills for overseas treatment: adding financial insult to injury

Slip accidentEverybody knows that medical treatment abroad can cost an arm and a leg, but you might be surprised at just how quickly the bills add-up. The Association of British Insurers have been busy crunching industry claims data and their findings make for essential holiday reading.

The report revealed that six figure pay-outs for emergency medical treatment are “not uncommon” and they can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. The good news is that travel insurance covers the medical costs of 3,000 holidaymakers every week adding-up to £200million a year. The bad news is that a quarter of travellers don’t have insurance and could be left seriously out-of-pocket.

Every year more than 3.8 million Brits visit the United States where medical bills are amongst the highest in the world. To illustrate the sky-high costs the ABI highlights a claim made by a stroke victim for £768,000 including £60,000 for an air ambulance home.

Other examples of expensive medical claims include £136,000 for treating an insect bite that turned nasty in Chile and closer to home £125,000 for surgery after a jet ski accident in Turkey and £81,000 for a holidaymaker who got pancreatitis in Greece.

In the past five years pay-outs for medical claims have soared by 40% and now average £1,300. To help holidaymakers understand more about travel insurance, and the risks of travelling uninsured, the ABI have published a useful guide covering everything from ‘before you buy’ to ‘making a claim’.

The Association of British Travel Agents recently conducted a survey which adds to the ABI findings. They discovered that 16% of holidaymakers were under the impression that travel insurance wasn’t necessary as the UK government would pick-up the bill, when it won’t. Just as worrying was the finding that 17% of respondents incorrectly assumed that the European Health Insurance Card covers all medical treatment in Europe, when it provides limited support (the figure rose to 33% for travellers under 25 years).

Perhaps the last word should be from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office who spell out the importance of travel insurance, explaining how it covers much more than medical expenses and why the cheapest policy isn’t always the best.

For peace of mind, at a price you can afford, visit our travel insurance pages or Tel: 0161 874 7745 to speak with a member of our team.


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