The Association of British Insurers (ABI) today reveals that the average medical claim on travel insurance surpassed £1,300 for the first time ever in 2018 – reaching £1,368. Claims can easily reach the tens of thousands of pounds, and one recent example saw a couple in America require nearly £600,000 worth of support from their travel insurer.
The ABI’s figures also show that the total amount paid to Brits abroad in 2018 – at £400 million – was at its highest level since 2010. In the past 10 years, the average medical claim has nearly doubled from £768 in 2008.
Despite the increase in average claims costs across the board, the average premium actually decreased to £38, whilst older travellers saw the biggest price fall.
The stats for 2018 reveal that:
- Overall, the average claim reached £800 – the highest amount on record.
- The majority of claims paid were to support 153,000 people in need of emergency medical treatment abroad (that’s 3,000 per week), to the tune of £209 million – with a record-breaking average medical claim of £1,368.
- £145 million was paid out for 167,000 cancellation claims, with the average claim also reaching a new high of £869.
- Finally, 79,000 people were supported through the loss of baggage or money to the tune of £17 million – at an average of £214 per claim.
With millions of UK travellers potentially taking the risk of going abroad without cover this summer, the ABI is urging consumers to buy cover sooner rather than later – ensuring that it is suitable for their needs and not just the cheapest option.
ABI Member Case Studies
Examples of recent claims highlight just how expensive overseas medical claims can be. They also illustrate the need to avoid reliance on an EHIC, which only provides cover for state healthcare services in the country you’re visiting if it is part of the European Economic Area (EEA):
- Vicious Cycle: Allianz Assistance helped a 19-year-old travelling in Cambodia who suffered a serious knee injury following an incident on a mountain bike. After being hospitalised, stabilised and then flown back to the UK, the claim cost £48,733.
- Price of the USA: Two customers of Direct Line Group were struck by a drunk driver in America. Both required serious medical treatment and the claim cost £587,000 in total.
- Cruise Control: Aviva dealt with a claim involving a customer on a cruise ship. Following a stroke, he was safely disembarked and then flown to America in an emergency air ambulance for surgery. In total the claim cost around£118,000.
- EHICcup: An Axa customer had to be repatriated from Spain for an urgent heart transplant, which would not be covered under the EHIC. This claim cost £76,528 in total.
Commenting on the stats, the ABI’s Senior Travel Policy Adviser, Charlie Campbell, said:
“The fact that a quarter of Brits travel abroad without the right travel insurance is incredibly worrying. Few people have the luxury of being able to afford a surprise £800 bill, let alone one that runs into the tens or hundreds of thousands if they fall ill abroad. Anyone travelling this summer should avoid unnecessary financial and emotional stress by ensuring they have the right cover in place. As not all policies are the same, people should look for cover that meets their needs, rather than the cheapest option.”
Insurance Edge Comment;
The industry needs to amplify the message that regardless of Brexit, which is increasingly unlikely to happen, the EHIC system is NOT a fully comp travel policy, underwritten by kind-hearted foreign governments.
While the British NHS is keen to offer unlimited medical treatement to anyone who rocks up from anywhere in the world, and claims to be penniless, the same virtue-signalling mentality is not true across much of Europe. Hospitals and private clinics will ask for full travel insurance documents, and if they do not exist, or the policy T&Cs don’t cover your particular medical condition, then you may well be fobbed off, asked to pay by credit card in advance of any treatment, or simply placed at the back of the queue down at the nearest Red Cross clinic.
Even if you have travel insurance, you may well be asked to pay for treatment upfront in many EU hospitals, and then claim all costs back yourself when you return home. Showing an EHIC card will not suddenly make everything free at the hospital.