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53 million a week travel insurers help a record number of people who fall ill abroad

With the summer holidays in full swing, figures released today by the ABI highlight that the cost of falling ill abroad has hit a record high, as travel insurers helped a record number of people needing emergency medical treatment while overseas.


ABI figures reveal that last year travel insurers:


  • Paid out £275 million in meeting the cost of emergency medical treatments for UK travellers who fell ill abroad - or £5.3 million every week. The cost of medical expenses claims has leapt by over 270% in the last six years.

·         Dealt with 337,000 claims for overseas emergency medical treatment -   almost 6,500 cases a week. This number rose threefold over the last six years.


·         The costs of medical treatment accounts for 55% of the total cost of all claims paid by travel insurers, compared to 33% six years ago.


Stomach upsets, ear infections, allergies and heart problems are the most common illnesses requiring medical treatment while abroad.


Claims dealt with by insurers include:


  • £86,000 to cover the cost of treating a holidaymaker who suffered a massive heart attack and needed to be flown home via air ambulance to the UK.
  • £54,000 to treat a holidaymaker who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder while holidaying in the USA and then needed to be flown back to the UK with a Doctor escort.
  • £20,000 to cover the cost of treating a man who had a heart infection and bleeding on the brain. Costs included treatment at two hospitals and an air ambulance back to the UK from Spain.
  • £11,000 to treat a holidaymaker who suffered a broken arm after a fall in Spain. 


Nick Starling, the ABI's Director of General Insurance and Health, said:


"The biggest cost if something goes wrong on your holiday will not be a lost passport, delayed flight or stolen camera:  it will be the medical treatment that may be needed if you, or someone in your family, gets hurt or falls ill. Medical costs abroad can run into tens of thousands of pounds which makes travel insurance absolutely essential. You must disclose all previous medical conditions to make sure you are covered. Call your insurer to talk it through if you are not sure. All travellers should ensure that they take details of emergency medical helpline telephone numbers included in their travel policy to call for advice and help should they fall ill." 

Last updated 01/07/2016