One fifth of travellers go without insuranceAbta warns tourists risk 'sky high' medical bills

04 October 2011

Travel insurance


One in five Britons are risking 'sky high' medical bills by going on their holidays without taking out travel insurance, according to new research by Abta. 

The association warned that 21% of travellers wrongly believed that the British government would cover their bills if something went wrong. The proportion was higher among young people, as 25% of 15-24-year-olds thought the government would cover them.

The importance of buying travel insurance has been highlighted by the case of a British family facing costs of more than £170,000 to cover the bills of a 30-year-old teacher who was injured in a motorcycle crash in Bali. They are facing ongoing costs of £2,000 a day while he is in hospital in Singapore.

'Alarming' travel insurance beliefs

Abta said it was 'alarming' that so many people had mistaken beliefs about when they needed travel insurance despite high-profile cases demonstrating the risks of not having proper cover.It also said there was confusion over what cover was provided by the European health card, EHIC. 

Abta's research, released at the Travel Convention in Palma, Mallorca,said 17% of people questioned last month thought travel insurance was unnecessary if travelling in Europe. A further 26% wrongly thought an EHIC card would cover their repatriation costs if they had to be flown back to the UK for medical reasons.

Health and finances at risk

John de Vial, Abta head of financial protection, said: 'It is very worrying that so many people are putting their health and finances at risk by travelling abroad without insurance.'

A Foreign Office spokeswoman added: 'We remain very concerned at the numbers of people travelling abroad without comprehensive travel insurance and ending up severely out of pocket.'

She added that British consulate staff could give advice and help contact friends and relatives in the UK, but could not pay hospital bills or fly Britons home if they ran out of money.

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