Uninsured travellers could face medical bills of £25,000 or more, Foreign Office warns

11th March 2015

Uninsured travellers could face tens of thousands of pounds in medical bills if they have an accident abroad, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is warning in a new campaign.

It points to costs, ranging from £500 to treat a sprained ankle in a popular holiday resort like Corfu to £25,000 for an air ambulance in southern Spain. If you require a lengthy stay in a foreign hospital the costs can quickly sky rocket.

The FCO compared the costs for medical treatments abroad without insurance with what you could spend the money on if you take out insurance:

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. 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.

John Heppenstall, head of consular campaigns at the FCO, said: “It is great that so many British nationals are looking to bag a holiday bargain, but a medical emergency abroad can be extremely expensive if you are not adequately insured.  Investing in travel insurance and understanding what you are covered for can make all the difference. Otherwise it may not be the holiday you bargained for.”

Andrew Woolgar, policy adviser for travel at the Association of British Insurers, said: “Falling ill abroad can be traumatic, particularly when faced with the potentially high cost of needing medical treatment. For example, a claim for hospital treatment abroad and an assisted flight home from Europe can cost more than £25,000. Travel insurance is there to ease the stress and cushion the blow for people that suffer a medical emergency abroad.”

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