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Study shows rate of injury abroad – are you covered?

Clare Campbell discusses the need for holiday insurance, for all travellers, following a recent poll looking at the hidden costs for illness and injury whilst abroad

Posted on 30 June 2015

Most holidaymakers embark on their travels with the expectation that they will endure nothing more serious than an awkward tan line, but for those unfortunate enough to suffer something more sinister having the right insurance in place can make all the difference.

In a recent study carried out by the Post Office Travel Insurance an estimated 4.4 million people sustained injuries on trips abroad in the past three years – from painful sunburn and sunstroke, to food poisoning and cuts, grazes and fractured bones.

And whilst this was enough to leave many wishing they had stayed at home, the pain for some wasn’t only physical with this staggering statistic amounting to more than £1 billion in costs for treatment, access to medication and damage or loss of equipment, and the unexpected costs leaving many relying on credit cards or savings to foot the bill.

Whereas some found themselves coughing up relatively small amounts - an average £47 for bites and stings, £118 for sunstroke or sunburn and £121 for an accident on a motorbike or scooter – for others, according to the Post Office study, those seemingly manageable costs can spiral if said injured tourist isn’t covered by travel insurance.

In the survey of 2000 people it was found that in one case the bill hit as high as £1500 for one patient needing support after being sunburnt, and another forked out £850 after being injured in a bicycle crash.

According to the report injuries such as insect and animal bites, and stingray stings, affected a quarter of holidaymakers polled, whilst 14% of tourists experienced potentially serious illnesses such as food poisoning and 8% had sunstroke or severe sunburn which required medical attention.

A further one in 20 UK tourists on holiday fell downstairs, slipped or fell around swimming pools, suffered cuts from broken glass or sustained injuries diving, snorkelling or swimming.

And with the figures showing that almost 1.5 million people are injured every single year the chance of sustaining one of the minor, or even one of the more serious injuries, is perhaps higher than first thought; and the need to ensure that the right insurance is in place becomes a hot topic.

Whilst the Post Office’s spokesperson does give a nod to the European Health Insurance Card, the company’s director of financial services does warn that there have been cases in which travellers have reported that their EHIC was refused – especially in Spain where more accidents happen to UK holidaymakers than anywhere else.

Furthermore, one in 10 of the tourists needing treatment for sunburn or sunstroke were holidaying outside of the EU in the US, where the cost of medical help is high.

Whilst not the most exciting aspect of organising a holiday, as the summer season gets in to full swing this latest study serves as a stark reminder of the importance of getting the right holiday insurance in place.

If worse comes to worse, and you or your loved one needs a helping hand, access to medical assistance, money to replace damaged goods or even giving you access to legal advice following a serious illness or injury, knowing that the insurance is in place to cover the cost will be a massive relief.