Thousands of overseas travellers need emergency treatment every week – insurers

The average medical claim on travel insurance has topped £1,300 for the first time, with 3,000 travellers needing emergency treatment every week, according to industry figures.

While the typical bill in 2018 was £1,368, claims can easily reach tens of thousands of pounds, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.

One recent example saw a couple who had travelled to the United States needing nearly £600,000-worth of support from their travel insurer.

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The ABI said the total amount paid to those travelling abroad in 2018 was £400 million – the highest since 2010.

The average medical claim has nearly doubled over the past decade, from £768 in 2008.

Some 153,000 people in need of emergency medical treatment abroad were paid out a total of £209 million last year – equating to 3,000 people claiming per week.

Meanwhile, £145 million was paid out for 167,000 cancellation claims, with the average claim also reaching a new high of £869, the ABI said.

Some 79,000 people who lost their baggage or money also received support totalling £17 million – an average of £214 per claim.

The ABI said recent successful claims include:

– Allianz Assistance helped a 19-year-old travelling in Cambodia who suffered a serious knee injury following an incident on a mountain bike. After spending time in hospital and being flown back to the UK, the claim cost £48,733.

– Two customers of Direct Line Group were struck by a motorist in the United States and the claim cost £587,000 in total.

– Aviva dealt with a claim involving a customer on a cruise ship following a stroke. The claim cost around £118,000.

– An Axa customer was repatriated from Spain for an urgent heart transplant. The claim cost £76,528 in total.

ABI’s senior travel policy adviser, Charlie Campbell, said: “Anyone travelling this summer should avoid unnecessary financial and emotional stress by ensuring they have the right cover in place.

“As not all policies are the same, people should look for cover that meets their needs, rather than the cheapest option.”

Here are the ABI’s insurance tips:

1. It is essential to shop around for travel insurance policies, and know that the cheapest policy may not cover all that you need.

2. Make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling in Europe. It is free and gives you access to state-provided healthcare available to a resident. But it is not a substitute for having travel insurance as it will not cover all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.

3. Drink alcohol responsibly, check safety before taking part in any activity, and follow local laws and customs. Generally, travel insurance policies will not cover accidents if someone has not taken reasonable care or had excessive amounts of alcohol.

4. Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice and information pages for your destination before you travel.

5. Declare any medical conditions upfront. Tell your insurer about any medical conditions when you take out a travel insurance policy. If you have a serious pre-existing medical condition, specialist insurers can help find the right cover for you – or speak to a broker.

6. Take note of your insurer’s emergency phone number with you on holiday.