Holidaymakers urged to consider insurance when planning 2018 getaways

Holidaymakers planning their 2018 getaways are being reminded to take out the appropriate insurance - or risk huge bills if they become ill or injured while abroad.

Travelling abroad uninsured can cost thousands of pounds if a trip goes wrong, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said.

According to new research among 2,000 over-55s from across the UK from the FCO, getting to the airport (18%), going through airport security (20%) and waiting for luggage (11%) are the biggest concerns for travellers going on holiday abroad - while only 2% are concerned about remembering to take out appropriate travel insurance.

Almost three-quarters (72%) of people aged over-55 plan to travel abroad in 2018 and half of these (50%) have a pre-existing medical condition.

The FCO is advising holidaymakers to research the appropriate travel insurance options, understand the potential cost of not being adequately covered and to give a detailed and accurate medical history to insurers.

The FCO said examples of the costs of repatriation for medical treatment include:
:: A stroke or heart attack repatriation can cost from £15,000 for an air ambulance in France to £90,000 for an air ambulance in the United States.
:: A fractured hip can cost from £15,000 in Spain to £80,000 for an air ambulance in Thailand or the United States.
:: A fractured arm can cost from £1,000 in France and Spain to £7,000 in the United States.
:: An ear infection can cost from £500 in France to £2,000 in the United States.

The FCO said a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area - but does not cover other costs such as bringing the patient back to the UK or additional accommodation costs in-country.

It said travellers should also remember that the level of free public healthcare can vary between countries, so British nationals may not have access to the same specialist treatment they would at home.

Julia Longbottom, consular director at the FCO 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."

Here are tips from the FCO for travellers with pre-existing medical conditions buying insurance:
1. Answer questions about your medical history fully and honestly.
2. Read policy documents carefully, including the small print, so that you understand what you are and are not covered for.
3. 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.
4. Consider using specialist insurers or brokers.
5. Where relevant, think hard about whether choosing a policy that excludes treatment related to your condition(s) is safe, even if it is cheaper.

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