If you’ve ever wondered if travel insurance is really necessary, you’re not alone. Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that one in four travellers don’t take out insurance, particularly those who are travelling within Europe. However, despite the fact that nobody likes to dwell on the idea of things going wrong when planning their dream trip, accidents can and do happen. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
As well as the fact that you could be left out of pocket if your luggage goes walkabout, your airline goes bust or your passport gets stolen, a far more pressing concern is what course of action you would take should you or one of your travelling companions unexpectedly fall ill and need medical attention. After all, the nature of accidents is that they are unpredictable and, far from the safety net of the NHS, you could find that the costs mount up very quickly.
So, what sort of ballpark costs are we looking at when we talk about receiving medical treatment abroad? Let’s delve a little deeper into the subject and find out why travel insurance isn’t a luxury, it’s an essential.
The Association of British Insurers released figures back in April that demonstrated just how much financial hot water you could find yourself in, should you travel without the right insurance policy. The report revealed that while most claims for medical expenses average at just over £700, more complex treatment, or an incident that involves repatriation to the UK, could cost in excess of £211,000 – the average cost of buying a house.
The data also detailed a few examples of recent claims insurers paid out for. A fall from a waterfall turned one traveller’s dream Thailand holiday into a nightmare but at least their insurance covered the £300,000 medical bill. Another holiday-maker was awarded a pay-out of £92,000 after suffering a heart attack on a Caribbean cruise.
Yet it isn’t just the serious incidents that can cost you a pretty penny. Online travel magazine, Wanderlust, reported on medical costs that included £11,000 to treat a tourist who simply fell and broke an arm in Spain, whilst the UK government site listed a stomach infection, treated in a Californian hospital with flights home, as costing £100,000.
All of the above are eye-watering costs, we’re sure you’ll agree, and if you had no insurance you and potentially your loved ones, would be responsible for ensuring that bill was paid. Is it really worth the risk?
You may have noticed that travel insurers calculate the cost of policies depending on (amongst other factors) where in the world you might be headed. This is because the price of healthcare can vary tremendously in different parts of the world. An infographic from Bupa Global revealed the top five most expensive countries to receive medical treatment are:
1. United States
3. Hong Kong
As you can see, just because a destination is closer to home, it doesn’t mean it will necessarily be cheaper to receive treatment.
Some travellers have made the mistake of believing that the European Health Insurance Card is an alternative to travel insurance. This isn’t the case. The card is free and provides state healthcare in many European countries for certain ailments. However, this card alone will not cover you for all medical costs, repatriation or the additional benefits insurance can provide cover for, such as lost luggage and cancellation.
It is also important to consider the activities you might partake in when on holiday. Sports such as skiing or mountain climbing will require specialist travel insurance due to the higher risk factor and potential for expensive assistance such as being air-lifted to hospital. Read the small print before you purchase.
The right travel insurance policy could cover you for emergency medical costs, hospital stays and ambulance fees as well as ensuring you are safely returned home if you couldn’t make your original flight. It could also cover you for emergency dental treatment if you were in pain as well as assistance helplines to provide advice if necessary.
Take the tedium out of securing the right travel insurance and use Medical Travel Compared’s online comparison tool for travel insurance with pre existing medical conditions, to search out the best deals for your trip and rest safe in the knowledge that you are covered against any unfortunate eventualities.