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Over 1,300 travellers a day helped by insurers when things go wrong abroad

  • Insurance pay-outs of £1 million a day to travellers in 2016 – the highest since 2010.
  • Payments for emergency medical treatment account for over half - 54% - of all claims costs at £199 million.
  • Cost of travel insurance can be less than a couple of glasses of wine at the airport bar. Yet an estimated one in four1. travellers still travel without insurance.

With the summer holiday season about to start and Brits making a staggering 70 million2. overseas trips a year, latest analysis by the ABI highlights why travel insurance is essential.

Analysis of claims paid last year by travel insurers reveals that:

  • £370 million, equating to £1 million every day, was paid to help 480,000 travellers and their families who needed help abroad, such as emergency medical treatment and lost baggage. This was the highest amount paid since 2010, when disruption caused by the Icelandic Ash Cloud pushed claims costs to an all-time high. The increase in claims costs was mainly due to increasing costs of emergency medical treatment. 
  • 154,000 travellers needing emergency medical treatment were helped by insurers at a cost of £199 million. These included a £100,000 bill for treating an abscess in the USA, £16,000 for the treatment of a fractured leg in a motorcycle accident in Thailand, and £11,000 to remove a brain tumour in Spain.
  • £130 million was paid out on 159,000 claims to cancelled holidays; £17 million was paid on 83,000 claims for baggage and money lost while travelling.
  • The cost of the average annual travel insurance policy is £37, compared to the average medical claim of £1,300, and the average cancellation claim of £816. Single trip policies can be cheaper, often less than what a family may spend on a snack or a couple of glasses of wine at the airport.

Mark Shepherd, Assistant Director, Head of Property at the ABI, said:

“As millions of people gear up for the summer holidays, for some unlucky travellers their break could turn into a nightmare. Falling ill abroad must be the number one worry as medical treatment abroad and repatriation back home can cost tens of thousands. Travel insurance is not a nice to have but should be an essential purchase. Insurers support and help thousands of travellers and their families should the worst happen, paying nearly 9 in 10  claims that are made. With a wide range of competitively priced polices available, shop around for the policy that meets your needs, and remember that the cheapest policy may not be the best for you.”

Tips to make sure you are covered against the unexpected when travelling abroad:

Shop around. Travel insurance policies vary to suit different needs so it’s essential to shop around, and know that the cheapest policy may not cover all that you need.

Get an EHIC. 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. However, 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.

Take care and stay safe. Holidays should be fun and relaxing, but take care and act responsibly. Drink alcohol responsibility, check safety before taking part in any activity, and follow laws and customs. Generally, travel insurance policies will not cover accidents if someone has not taken reasonable care or had excessive amounts of alcohol.

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

Declare any medical conditions upfront. Tell your insurer about any medical conditions when you take out a travel insurance policy.

Know how to contact your insurer if you need to. Make sure you take note of your insurer’s emergency phone number. If something happens when you’re on holiday and you need to make a claim, call your insurer first who can help.



Notes for Editors

  1. Enquiries to:
    Malcolm Tarling                020 7216 7410    Mobile: 07776 147667
    Lauren Gow                      020 7216 7327    Mobile: 07889 641702
    Sarah Cordey                   020 7216 7375    Mobile: 07860 189071

  2. 1. ABTA survey, May 2017. 2. ONS Travel Trends 2016

  3. The Association of British Insurers is the leading trade association for insurers and providers of long term savings. Our 250 members include most household names and specialist providers who contribute £12bn in taxes and manage investments of £1.6 trillion.

  4. An ISDN line is available for broadcast

  5. More news and information from the ABI is available on our web site, www.abi.org.uk.

Last updated 05/06/2017