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As summer school holidays began, figures released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) highlight the need for travel insurance. Yet 22% of travellers fail to take out any form of insurance cover before they go. This despite the fact that every week almost £4 million is paid out by insurance companies to help around 4,000 people who fall ill abroad.

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The ABI’s data shows that:

  • Last year, travel insurers paid out £370million in 581,000 claims of travellers who needed help when they were abroad and made a claim on their insurance policy.
  • Of this, travel insurers helped over 202,000 travellers who needed medical treatment while abroad, the equivalent of 3,800 people a week.
  • Insurers paid out more than £206 million in 2014 to cover the cost of emergency medical treatment, almost £4 million a week.
  • The average cost of a claim for medical expenses on a travel insurance policy has increased to £1,022 from £930 last year.
  • An annual travel insurance policy costs an average of just £32.
  • More people claim for medical treatment than for either cancellation costs or lost and stolen possessions.


James Dalton, Director for General Insurance at the ABI said:

“No one wants to go on holiday and have to make a claim on their travel insurance but for some travellers, having something go wrong can be a very real experience. Falling ill abroad can be very traumatic but travel insurance can cover the potentially high medical treatment costs which can run into the tens of thousands. Travel insurers pay out almost £4 million every week to help to ease the stress and cushion the blow when there is a medical emergency abroad.”


The ABI’s top tips when going abroad:

  • When travelling in Europe, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Although not a substitute for travel insurance, this is free and allows you to receive emergency treatment from public hospitals across Europe.
  • When taking out a policy, shop around for the best deal but don’t buy a policy based on price alone – the cheapest policy may not cover all of your needs.
  • Holidays are fun and relaxing but you should act responsibly and remain vigilant. Bear in mind that in general, travel insurance policies will not cover accidents that take place when someone has not taken reasonable care or had excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • If you have a medical condition, consider using a specialist insurer or broker to find travel insurance that will suit your needs. Visit the ABI and Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice here.