If you travel without travel insurance or without declaring your pre-existing medical conditions you could be liable for extremely large medical bills if you are hospitalised abroad.
The annual British Behaviour Abroad report, produced by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has shown an increase in the numbers of British travellers being hospitalised in popular holiday resorts such as Spain, Greece and Egypt.
During the year from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2012 approximately 70 British travellers per week were hospitalised abroad - that's 10 people every day!
Without appropriate travel insurance including cover for their pre-existing medical conditions some people are surprised to find out that they have to foot the bill medical treatment themselves.
A recent survey showed that 48% of Brits did not realise that without travel insurance they would be liable for their own medical bills if they fall ill or have an accident abroad.
Minister for Consular Services Jeremy Browne said:
"Whilst the prospect of ending up in a foreign hospital may be the last thing on your mind as you head overseas for a summer break, sometimes things do go wrong on holiday and many people deeply regret not taking out comprehensive travel insurance.
We witness many cases where people have invalidated their policy - perhaps by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition or not checking their policy covers a particular activity, such as hiring a moped. Unfortunately they are then surprised that the Foreign Office cannot pay for their bills and flight home"
Although Foreign and Commonwealth Office staff can offer assistance if you are hospitalised abroad, it's very important to remember that they will not cover the cost of your hospital treatment, that is what you need travel insurance for and you must declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurance provider to be properly covered.
The cost of a medical emergency abroad can quickly mount up to thousands of pounds, or tens of thousands if you require air ambulance transportation back to the UK. Sadly, Foreign Office staff witness cases every year where desperate families are having to raise very large amounts of money to pay medical and repatriation costs for their loved ones who have fallen ill or had accidents on holiday.
Remember if you travel without insurance, or don't declare your pre-existing medical conditions, it is you or your family who will be faced with large medical bills if you require medical treatment abroad.