The staggering potential cost of needing emergency medical treatment abroad is highlighted in a new report.

While the average travel insurance claim is just over £700, emergency medical and repatriation costs when overseas can be much higher. This is according to a report by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

Despite the high costs of emergency medical treatment overseas, an estimated one in five Britons go abroad without travel insurance.

With some of the highest treatment and medication costs of any country, emergency medical bills in the USA can be considerable. For example:

  • An insurer recently paid a medical bill of £322,000 for treating a swollen blood vessel in the brain;
  • Treatment for an abscess in the abdomen resulted in the insurer covering the £101,000 medical cost;.
  • Over £500,000 was paid for treating a multiple fracture of the leg and artery tear in the USA with an air ambulance back to the UK

Other examples of emergency medical bills faced by Britons abroad that were covered by travel insurance include:

  • *£300,000 for the treatment of multiple injuries following a fall from a waterfall in Thailand;
  • *£40,000 to cover the medical costs in treating a traveller to Indonesia who was bitten by a mosquito and contracted Dengue fever;
  • £31,000 treating a broken leg that became infected in Nepal;
  • £16,000 to treat a fractured hip caused by a motorcycle accident in Thailand;
  • £11,000 treating a brain tumour in Spain.

The ABI’s Mark Shepherd said: “Falling ill abroad can be very stressful without the added worry about how you will pay potentially very expensive medical bills.

“Anyone travelling overseas should always take out appropriate travel insurance for the duration of their trip, and declare medical conditions when they take out their policy. A valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling in Europe is also strongly recommended. Though not a substitute for travel insurance, the EHIC is free and provides access to state-provided healthcare on the same basis as a resident.”

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