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How many Brits take out travel insurance ahead of a holiday abroad?

Despite holidays abroad being a time to unwind, experience a new culture and enjoy good weather, unlucky Brits could be at risk of falling ill or having an accident during their trip. Some people don’t follow advice to take out travel insurance as soon as they book their holiday, so what happens if they require medical treatment abroad? What price do they have to pay and where are the most costly destinations?

From analysing consumer sentiment data , we identified that 3 in 10 Brits have required medical treatment abroad regardless of whether they were covered by travel insurance or not. This is a concerning figure given that nearly 1 in 10 Brits do not take out any travel insurance ahead of a holiday and, of those that do, 20 per cent don’t know  what cover they are entitled to.

It’s possible that there is a level of misunderstanding that surrounds travel insurance and how much you may have to pay out without a policy in place. Our findings revealed that 42 per cent of Brits that haven’t taken out travel insurance stated that they did not because of it being too expensive, while just under a third put it down to being an unnecessary additional cost. This trend is particularly prevalent amongst younger travellers, with half suggesting that the location of their holiday would affect their decision to take out travel insurance.

Regionally speaking, Scotland has the worst offenders when it comes to taking out a policy without knowing what they are covered for, with 3 in 10 Scots admitting to this. Yorkshire and the North West followed close behind, with over a quarter of respondents from both regions stating the same.

Who needs medical treatment and how much does it actually cost?

Whether covered by travel insurance or not, almost 30 per cent of Brits have required medical treatment while on holiday abroad. This poses a financial risk to those who don’t cover themselves, when you consider the costs of potential medical treatment. While this can vary from country to country, our research shows that the average amount paid for medical treatment comes in at £5,620, a massive 18,028 percentage increase on the average UK travel insurance cost of £311.

The findings reveal that 40 per cent of men have required medical treatment compared to just 25 per cent of women, with the 25-34 age group more likely to need treatment than any other age range. Nearly half of this bracket have required medical assistance of some kind while on holiday (44 per cent).

During a trip abroad, Brits most commonly required treatment for gastroenetitis or food poisoning, with 1 in 10 needing care. Heart conditions, respiratory problems and broken bones were also found to be some of the most common issues Brits experienced. It is important to ensure regular health checks have been made before setting out on any trip overseas, as this will be a helpful guide to choosing the right policy.

Common injuries Brits suffer abroad

Common injuries Brits suffer abroad

The data shows that Brits are most likely to need medical treatment in the USA and Spain, with a quarter of Brits needing care in both nations. 

The average cost of treatment per country varies greatly but all bear one similarity: a significantly higher price tag than the cost of taking out a travel insurance policy.

Average treatment cost per country

Average treatment cost per country

Average cost of medical treatment abroad per country:

  • Argentina: £20,231
  • Australia: £16,766
  • Belgium: £12,510
  • Brazil: £5,194
  • Bulgaria: £2,642
  • Canada: £20,568
  • China: £9,350
  • Croatia: £3,171
  • Cuba: £13,358
  • Cyprus: £7,217
  • UAE: £7,628
  • Egypt: £12,234
  • France: £10,945
  • Greece: £3,102
  • Italy: £8,201
  • Japan: £8,650
  • Malta: £18,605
  • Mexico: £20,596
  • Morocco: £16,196
  • Netherlands: £16,296
  • Portugal: £19,960
  • Republic of Ireland: £15,227
  • Russia: £21,833
  • South Africa: £12,094
  • South Korea: £28,938
  • Spain: £8,019
  • Switzerland: £10,587
  • Thailand: £15,442
  • Tunisia: £22,513
  • Turkey: £889
  • USA: £6,258

While the USA shows a lower than average fee, our data reveals that major surgery costs close to £75,000; five times the amount it would cost in other popular holiday destinations like Spain and Cyprus. The daily hospital room rate also follows this trend with a cost of £4,000, five times the amount it would cost in Spain and just under ten times the cost in other countries such as Bulgaria, South Africa and Thailand.

Only South Africa matched the USA on the average cost for treatment of heart conditions (£10,000), which is three times more expensive than Spain, France, Italy and Turkey. All popular options for Brits abroad.

Travel insurance: things to watch out for

Ensure you’ve had all vaccinations before travelling: When travelling to an area where diseases such as malaria are in abundance, it is paramount to ensure the right vaccinations and medications are taken. Without these, not only are the chances of becoming unwell enhanced, but if you were to fall ill with an illness that could’ve been avoided with a vaccination it could void your travel insurance policy.

Dismissing travel insurance: Our data shows that one in ten Brits do not take out travel insurance. Some consider it to be overly expensive and an unnecessary additional cost. You are leaving yourself at risk to anything by doing this. The cost of taking out travel insurance pales in comparison to the thousands you may end up having to spend to fix a broken leg.

Accidents under the influence: While relaxing and having fun is an important part of any holiday, drinking excessively and sustaining an injury as a result could void any travel insurance premium taken out. It is important to stay within limits and be conscious of your surroundings.

Leaving it last minute: A decent policy is likely to cover anything that can disrupt you getting to your destination in the first place. Potential injury, illness or even aviation issues can lead to the cancellation or postponement of any holiday so it is important to get in ahead of time and ensure your policy is ready before setting off. You won’t be covered if you take out a policy after the fact.

Cover the right activities: While most travel insurance policies cover a number of sports, leisure activities and events, there may be some that aren’t included in your policy. It is important to check if sports such as skiing, snowboarding and watersports are included as these sometimes require an additional premium. The same can be said for hiking above the 2,000 metre altitude point.

Disclose all pre-existing medical conditions: If you fall unwell due to a pre-existing medical condition, your travel insurance will not pay out if you failed to declare it. Not only will this leave you facing a number of hospital bills, you will also lose entitlement to cover on any potential missed flights. Even if revealing your pre-existing medical condition bumps up the price on your premium by a few pounds, it is worth it in the long run as it will pale in comparison to what you could end up spending.

List the family: While children of some ages are covered free of charge on some policies, they still need to be listed when booking. Any policy you take out cannot cover anyone that is not listed at the time of purchase.

Not settling for free travel insurance: If you have travel insurance included with your bank or one of your credit cards, it is important to familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions of your policy. The insurance offered by most bank accounts and credit cards of this nature are unlikely to cover the loss of baggage or any other medical expenses so you’ll still need to purchase cover for these possibilities.

Know your location: Always make sure the country (or countries) you’re travelling to are covered under the terms of your policy. Some policies only cover single continents, so it is important to establish if the places you’re going to are specifically covered and that your policy remains intact for the duration of your stay.

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