The importance of medical travel insurance

"Do I really need to spend extra on insuring my holiday?"

If you’re already spending a lot on your next holiday, it’s understandable that spending even more for medical cover can seem like an unwanted extra expense. Many travellers think it’s unlikely they’ll actually need it, or that their EHIC card will cover them for European trips.

But can you really afford to take that risk?

Illnesses, delays and more

If you travel regularly, the list of potential problems you could experience is daunting. Illnesses, travel delays, accidents, injuries, crime, missed departures and lost luggage are just some of the issues you could encounter.

Of course you shouldn’t put off travelling because of potential problems; the benefits far outweigh the risks. But it’s smart to be aware of the high costs you could incur if these things came to pass – and if you didn’t have Travel Insurance as a safety net.

Medical issues: more common than you think

Don’t think medical travel issues are likely to happen to you?

More than 4,300 UK travellers per week who needed medical treatment were helped by Travel Insurance in 2013. And with costs continuing to rise (for medical treatment in particular), could you afford to deal with a travel upset on your own?

Medical emergencies & expenses

In 2013, travel insurers paid out £1 million in claims per day – with medical expenses accounting for 56% of claims. The average cost of a travel insurance claim for medical expenses was £930. In stark contrast, the average cost of a travel insurance policy was just £32.

If you’re travelling outside of the EU, the costs of medical treatment are often phenomenally high – especially in countries such as the USA where healthcare may be excellent, but is also prohibitively expensive.

And even if you’re in an EU member state and carry the appropriate European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you’re only covered for urgent medical needs – costs for things like outpatient care, and transportation while you wait to get home, would be your financial responsibility.

Protect Your Bubble travel claims by the numbers

What's a "small" travel claim?

Even if you’re confident you won’t have a medical disaster while you’re abroad, the numbers can still add up for “small” issues. Here are some details of actual claims we’ve paid out in the past for "minor" medical treatment*:

  •  £340 for skin irritation and rash in Turkey
  •  £1,436 for gastroenteritis in Cyprus
  •  £393 for a sprained ankle in Spain

Anything closing in on £300 would probably equal the cost of extra nights in a hotel, or your car hire fees. An extra £700-plus would probably get you another week in the sun, and for many of us, an extra cost in the region of £2,000 would likely mean no holiday at all next year!


*Data provided by Global Response Ltd, Protect Your Bubble’s claims handlers, covering actual claims received between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2015.

The cost of medical emergencies

As if the cost for small claims weren't bad enough, bigger medical claims could be financially devastating. How so? Here are more examples of actual claims we’ve paid out*:

  •  A skiier broke his pelvis in France – 80% of the medical costs were covered by the EHIC, but the bill for getting him down off the slopes and bringing him back to the UK with a medical escort came to more than £12,000.
  •  A customer accidentally ran into another skier on the slopes in Italy. The injured party claimed €20,000 for damages, €3,000 for costs and issued criminal proceedings for assault! The charges were eventually dropped, but the damages claim was settled for €15,000.
  •  A customer fainted in the shower while in the USA. Although hospital tests found no underlying cause, the fees came to more than £4,000.
  •  Whilst in Mexico, a customer fell and fractured a vertebrae. The local surgery bill, plus the cost of repatriation, came to an eye-watering £55,000.

Look at those figures again – and think of how much you spent on your last holiday. Travel Insurance doesn’t seem like such a big added expense now, does it?

Learn more on our Travel Insurance page >

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