POSTED: July 19 2019
3,000 Brits require emergency treatment abroad EVERY WEEK

3,000 Brits require emergency treatment abroad EVERY WEEK

The need for effective travel insurance was again laid bare as the ABI confirmed that 153,000 people needed emergency treatment while abroad in 2018.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has confirmed 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 individual premium actually decreased to £38, with older travellers seeing 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.


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 £587,000in 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.”


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You can read the ABI press release in full here.