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As people are looking ahead at travel plans for 2018, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is advising holidaymakers to make sure they are properly insured.

Travelling abroad uninsured can cost thousands of pounds if a trip goes wrong. The price can range from £4,000 for medical repatriation aftercare for a heart attack in France to £80,000 for an air ambulance due to a fractured hip in Thailand.

Yet according to new research from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, being sure to take out the appropriate travel insurance policy features at the bottom of travellers’ holiday priorities:

  • getting to the airport (18%)
  • going through airport security (20%) and
  • waiting for luggage (11%)

While thee are the biggest concerns for travellers going on holiday abroad, only 2% worry about remembering to take out appropriate travel insurance.

72% of people aged over 55 plan to travel abroad in 2018 and with half of these identifying themselves as having a pre-existing medical condition. The FCO is advising British holidaymakers to research the appropriate travel insurance options, understand the potential cost of not being adequately insured and to give a detailed and accurate medical history to insurers.

Research shows that:

  • the price of travel insurance is the most important factor for the over 55s when considering whether or not to buy it (23%), and
  • 1 in 20 have knowingly not declared their medical condition due to the increased cost of their travel insurance

The fact is that overseas emergency medical bills far outweigh the average cost of a policy.

Some examples of the costs of repatriation for medical treatment are:

  • stroke or heart attack repatriation – from £15,000 for an air ambulance in France to £90,000 for an air ambulance in the US
  • fractured hip – from £15,000 in Spain to £80,000 for an air ambulance in Thailand or the US
  • fractured arm – from £1,000 in France and Spain to £7,000 in the US
  • ear infection – from £500 in France to £2,000 in the US

Julia Longbottom, Consular Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “Arranging travel insurance should be at the top of your holiday essentials before heading overseas. Travellers are losing thousands of pounds in medical bills and their families are having to find the money to help cover the cost or even repatriate them.”

Having the appropriate travel insurance in place will help ensure that you get the support you need, should something go wrong overseas. It can make all the difference and allow you to relax and enjoy your holiday. Please #travelinsured.”

Maureen Talbot, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said: “Finding travel and life insurance can be difficult when you have a heart condition or are recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery. But the cost of medical treatment overseas can be incredibly expensive, so having appropriate travel insurance in place is really important and can give you peace of mind.”

The BHF is here to support you, so if you have any questions please visit bhf.org.uk/insurance or call our heart helpline on 0300 330 3311.”

When buying travel insurance, travellers with pre-existing medical conditions are advised to:

  • answer questions about their medical history fully and honestly
  • read policy documents carefully, including the small print, so that you understand what you are and are not covered for
  • think about the destination you are travelling to – the price of medical care can vary from country to country, which will be reflected in the price of insurance
  • think about using specialist insurers or brokers
  • where relevant, think hard about whether choosing a policy that excludes treatment related to your condition(s) is safe, even if it is cheaper

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) only provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area and does not cover other costs such as bringing the patient back to the UK or additional accommodation costs in-country. Travellers should also remember that the level of free public healthcare can vary between countries, so British nationals may not have access to the same specialist treatment that they would at home.

To find out more, visit the Travel Aware and keep up-to-date with the latest FCO travel advice by signing up to the FCO’s travel Facebook and Twitter channels. Join in the conversation and share your story using hashtag #travelinsured.

Find out more and read the FCO advice on buying the right travel insurance.

About the author

Love Andover

Staff Writer for Love Andover and Journalist for Andover Radio

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