A recent survey suggests that more people than ever before are taking risks by not investing in health insurance before leaving home. Worse, it seems that the countries that are most prone to problems and accidents – where insurance is of greatest importance – are the very same ones where the fewest tourists actually possess insurance.
The investigation by the Post Office asked long-haul travellers about their recent travels, together with the insurance arrangements they’d made. The anonymous survey makes some eye-watering reading, with many tourists taking significant risks not just with their health but also with their bank accounts, bearing in mind the cost of medical treatment in some countries.
According to the Post Office the average long haul holiday insurance claim falls just shy of £5,000; a considerable sum for most people. Sad then, that all this risk could be eliminated for a fraction of the cost in exchange for a reasonably-priced travel insurance policy.
It seems it is the younger traveller that is taking the greatest risks. Those aged under 35 are the most likely to travel without suitable medical insurance. Whether this is for financial reasons or because the younger traveller assumes they won’t get ill while abroad isn’t overly clear.
In terms of the countries where travellers fail to buy insurance, India comes in first place. According to the research almost a third of all long-haul visitors admitting they failed to take out any kind of insurance before visiting.
This lack of health insurance is somewhat ironic when you consider that the statistics suggest the less developed nations like India are where problems are most likely to occur. Oddly, it seems that countries considered “safer” actually had far higher levels of investment in travel insurance.
The most common reason for needing to make a claim on travel insurance is illness experienced while away. In countries where hygiene may not be up to Western standards these illnesses are far more likely. Developing countries often also don’t have the same levels of health and safety we expect in the West, and road accidents can also be more prevalent.
As a result when visiting countries like India it be a very wise traveller who considers investing in health insurance. Doing so ensures you will be able to access suitable treatment as necessary. Let’s also not forget that health insurance won’t just cover you for basic care; if necessary a suitable policy will even allow for repatriation or treatment in another country.
After India comes Dubai, followed by Mauritius. Kenya and Sri Lanka – both considered “high risk” locations for an assortment of reasons – also feature prominently on the list.
The message here is quite clear. Before you head abroad – either as a tourist or an expat – take the time to consider your health. Don’t try to make a false economy by either ignoring your health insurance altogether or compromising on a cheaper but less effective policy.
In cases where you need medical assistance you’ll be glad that you took out insurance, no matter how much of a dent such an investment might have made in your holiday spending money.