Even today, more than 20% of UK travellers leave the UK on an international or intercontinental holiday or business trip without some form of world travel insurance. |
A recent article from Wanderlust travel magazine has quoted some alarming statistics which show the danger of doing so.
Why Ignore Travel Insurance?
One thing that is relatively clear is that people tend to ignore travel insurance for one or more of several reasons:
• A belief that “it could never happen to me” • Cost-saving • A confusion of EHIC’s (European Health Insurance Card) scope and responsibilities.
Let’s consider each of these in turn.
In terms of “I’m too lucky to need world travel insurance”, sadly, the facts are against you. In 2015, British insurers paid out travel insurance claims to almost 500,000 policyholders. That should tell you that problems abroad aren’t the preserve of an unlucky few.
Cost-saving is, of course, a very real issue for many if not most holidaymakers. If you don’t buy travel insurance then you might save yourself a premium of perhaps £30-40, but do you like gambling? You may say you need to know the risks before answering and to clarify those, read on to see just how much cost you could be facing if your luck runs out.
The EHIC situation can be confusing.
It’s worth being clear at the outset (this does confuse some travellers) that the EHIC card has no value outside of the EU and one or two affiliated countries. So, if you’re in the USA of Thailand for example, don’t expect an EHIC card to deliver you anything. Keep in mind that medical treatment in the USA can easily run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you are travelling to an EU country, remember that EHIC will ONLY cover you for emergency medical treatment on the same basis as locals citizens get it. In France, for example, local people get about 70% of their medical treatment covered by the state and 30% they pay themselves or through private medical insurance.
If you have an EHIC and need treatment in France, you could still end up with a bill for 30% of the total cost and that could be a LOT of money, unless you have world travel insurance to help cover the costs. How Expensive?
Getting back to clarifying the risk, here are some approximate costs extracted from the Wanderlust stats:
• A broken arm in Spain - £11,000 in medical bills • A heart infection and bleeding on the brain in Spain - £20,000 • 24-hours in hospital in the USA - £3,000 • Helicopter evacuation from a European ski slope - £1500 • Medical repatriation from the USA - £8000 and from Europe - £4000.
These will be, for most people, breath-taking costs if you don’t have the support of world travel insurance.
In the UK of the early 21st century, most of us have become used to some form of free-at-source medical treatment protection.
Whatever the failings of the NHS, we won’t have experienced urgent medical treatment being refused pending confirmation of our ability to pay. We also won’t have experienced situations such as our passport and luggage being impounded after treatment until such time as all medical expenses have been settled.
That, though, is a VERY real prospect in some countries unless you can produce either the cash or evidence that you have comprehensive world travel insurance in place.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in world travel insurance policies. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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