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Pack your travel insurance this summer and remember your trip for the right reasons

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  • Number of travel insurance claims up nearly 150% last year as overseas travel got back to pre-Covid levels.  
  • Average claim for needing emergency overseas medical treatment at its highest since records began, with one claim costing a jaw dropping £250,000. 

As the peak holiday season arrives, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is reminding people to take their travel insurance contact details with them when they travel abroad. While most people remember their holiday for the right reasons, if the worst happens – such as needing emergency overseas medical treatment – travel insurance can be a lifeline. One significant payout for emergency overseas medical treatment covered by travel insurance was for a jaw dropping £250,000.

Last year travel insurers dealt with a new claim the equivalent of every 2 minutes, according to latest analysis out today from the Association of British Insurers (ABI). The number and cost of claims rose significantly reflecting a return to pre-pandemic travel levels, after lower claims due to the Covid travel restrictions.  

Our data highlights that in 2022:  

  • The number of claims and payouts rose significantly. Travel insurers dealt with 362,000 claims, up 148% on 2021. Total claim payouts, at £352million, leapt by 230% on the £107million paid in 2021.  
  • Big rises in cancellation and medical expenses claims, reflecting a pick up in overseas travel post Covid.  The number of cancellation claims, at 129,000, rose by 75% on 2021. There were 112,000 medical claims, a leap of 235%, with payouts of £197 million up over 300% on 2021. 
  • The average claim was the highest on record - £973, up 33% on the previous year to the highest since we started collecting this data back in 2004. The average emergency medical treatment claim was £1,750, up 26% on the previous year to the highest on record.   
  • Spain saw the greatest number of medical claims, at just over 20,000. This likely reflects it being the most popular overseas holiday spot. Followed by the USA (10,520), Greece (8,492) and France (7,480).   
  • Claim payouts rise with age, with the average claim value of £571 for those aged 36-40, rising to £1,950 for travellers aged 71-75. This reflects in the average single trip premium of £40 and £109 respectively.  

Emergency medical treatment costs can be very jaw -droppingly high.  

For example:  

  • A traveller visiting Thailand suffered a serious blood infection needing intensive medical treatment and an air ambulance back to the UK. The total bill was £250,000 paid by the travel insurer.  
  • A holidaymaker in Spain needed private medical treatment for a kidney infection. This cost £15,000, covered by her travel insurance.  

Louise Clark, the ABI’s Policy Adviser, General Insurance, said: 

“Most holidaymakers remember their travels for all the right reasons, but for a few it turns in to the stuff of nightmares. No one wants to think of anything spoiling their holiday, but if it does, you could be left counting the cost for many years. The risk of falling seriously ill or injured while overseas can be financially horrendous, as well as very stressful. Travel insurance should always be an essential holiday purchase, and never a nice to have.”  

Know before you go travel insurance advice.  

Read our advice here. Our ‘Six for Summer’ travel insurance tips to remember:  

  1. Make sure it is safe to travel. Check and follow the latest foreign travel advice on GOV.UK from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), especially as travelling against it is likely to invalidate your travel insurance. Always follow local health advice, such as dealing with heatwaves. Your travel insurance will apply in the usual way if you need emergency medical treatment due to extreme weather. 
  2. Be honest and open when applying for cover, especially around any pre-existing medical conditions, or medication you may be taking. 
  3. Read your policy, so you understand what you are covered for, and what limits and exclusions apply. 
  4. Take your travel insurer’s emergency helpline contact details, so you can contact them if the worst happens.  
  5. Have your EHIC, or get a GHIC, if travelling to Europe
    If you hold a current European Health Insurance Card (the EHIC entitles you to access state-provided health care when visiting the EU) this remains valid until its expiry date. After then, or if you do not have an EHIC, you will need to apply in the same way (for free through NHS online) for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Neither the EHIC or the GHIC is a replacement for travel insurance as it will not cover you for all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK. 
  6. Know your rights if facing travel problems.  
    Get as much information as you can, so that, in the event of any travel problems, you know what you are entitled to and from whom. Check if your travel insurance covers travel disruption, which will cover certain non-refundable costs because of specific circumstances (for example, strike or industrial action and airport closures), when other consumer protections do not apply.

For more information please contact  ABI Press Office.   

Last updated 20/07/2023