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Anyone who has got ill or needed medical treatment while abroad knows what an unpleasant experience it can be. The language barriers. The lack of understanding. The different policies and rules. And the expenses. The big expenses – at least for those with inappropriate health insurance.
It comes as no surprise therefore that almost every travel expert worth their salt recommends investing in a health insurance policy before leaving home, in order to control the costs should medical help be needed. Additionally, a proper insurance policy like this can sometimes result in swifter treatment, hospitals with better facilities and all manner of ‘add on’ services like repatriation if they’re ever needed.
The benefits are hardly rocket science.
So it seems odd that a study by Nationwide reveals just how few people actually invest in medical insurance when heading abroad; and the unnecessary risks they may be taking with their health – and their bank balance.
The research shows that 20% of those surveyed wouldn’t take out any form of insurance when travelling for one or two weeks – whether that’s within Europe or not. 38% wouldn’t arrange insurance for a short weekend away.
However arguably the most worrying statistic of all is that almost one in four people wouldn’t bother taking out insurance before heading overseas for a period of up to six months at a time. Clearly, the longer that you are abroad, the greater the odds of you needing some form of medical help so people’s optimism in this respect really is surprising.
The study most certainly didn’t take into account the costs of medical insurance; the research focused purely on whether or not British tourists would take the small amount of time and effort required to arrange insurance before leaving home. Even fewer would actually make a claim even if an opportunity arose.
Nationwide claim that the cost of a flight and doctor from Australia could weigh in at over £15,000 while an air ambulance ride in America could cost several times that figure. Note that without appropriate medical insurance, you or your family would be expected to pay these fees out of your own pocket.
For those minority of travellers who took the safer route and spent a little bit of money on such a policy, the costs would likely be covered for you by your insurer.
The moral of the story is a simple one; don’t be one of the people who takes chances with their health while travelling. To ensure that you get the very best care should you need it, always consider health insurance to be obligatory when travelling – even within Europe where an EHIC will offer some health benefits to travellers from other European destinations.
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Expatriate Group & Expatriate Healthcare are trading styles of Strategic Insurance Services Limited who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). FCA Firm reference Number is 307133. Strategic Insurance Services Limited is authorised to carry on Regulated Activities in accordance with the permissions granted by the FCA under PART IV of the Financial Services and Markets ACT 2000.