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Travel Insurance Still Seen as Low Priority - But at What Cost?

Travel Insurance Still Seen as Low Priority - But at What Cost?

Research conducted by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office concludes that travel insurance is still a low priority for British holidaymakers, but at what cost?

Travelling abroad uninsured can be risky business. If something goes wrong whilst you're sunning it up in the Algarve or skiing in the Swiss Alps, you could face a bill running into the thousands of pounds.

Yet according to new research from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, taking out adequate travel insurance features at the bottom of the list of priorities for British travellers. The FCO surveyed 2,000 over 55s and asked what their biggest concerns were when planning their getaway, the results were:

  • Getting to the airport (18%)
  • Going through airport security (20%)
  • Waiting for luggage (11%)

Only 2% of those asked said they worry about purchasing appropriate travel insurance before jetting off abroad.

Almost three-quarters of these people said they plan to travel overseas in 2018, and half of these admitted to having a pre-existing medical condition. The FCO is reminding holidaymakers of the importance of researching appropriate travel insurance options, understanding the potential cost of not being insured and giving detailed and accurate medical history to insurers.

Further research showed that price is the most important factor for the over 55s when considering whether to take out a travel insurance policy (23%), and 1 in 20 have deliberately not declared their medical condition due to the increased cost of their insurance premiums.

The truth is that the cost of overseas emergency medical treatment far outweighs the average cost of a travel insurance policy.

The FCO gave some examples of the costs of repatriation for medical treatment:

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

Julia Longbottom, Consular Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 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."

Finding adequate travel insurance when you have a pre-existing medical condition can be confusing, but the FCO has provided some tips to help make the whole process a little easier:

  • Answer questions about your medical history fully and honestly
  • Read policy documents carefully, including the small print, so that you understand what you are covered for, and check for any exclusions
  • Think about the destination you are travelling to, as the price of medical care can vary from country to country, which will be reflected in the price of the policy
  • Consider using specialist insurers or brokers
  • Where relevant, think about whether choosing a policy that excludes treatment related to your condition(s) is safe, even if it is cheaper

To find out more about purchasing insurance when you have a pre-existing medical condition, read our guide here.

It's a common misconception amongst travellers that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will provide all the cover you need during your trip, but this simply isn't true. While an EHIC is a worthwhile accompaniment to travel insurance, it only provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area and does not cover additional costs such as bringing the patient home to the UK, mountain rescue, lost or stolen property or any additional accommodation. Travellers should also remember that the level of free public medical treatment can vary from country to country, so British nationals may not have access to the same level of treatment that they would at home.

At Compare Cover, we allow you to compare travel insurance prices from a range of UK insurers. To find out more about travel insurance, read our travel insurance guides.

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