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Foreign Office urges young Brits to buy travel insurance

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17/06/2014
Over one in three young people do not think it is necessary to take out insurance when they travel overseas, a survey suggests.

Research issued by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) found that 38 per cent of 16-24 year olds do not consider travel insurance necessary, leaving themselves or their parents exposed to big medical bills should something go wrong abroad.

One in five young people think that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) acts as a full insurance policy.

However, an EHIC only provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area and does not cover other costs such as bringing the individual back to the UK.

FCO Minister Mark Simmonds said: “It’s the time of year when people are preparing to travel abroad for summer trips, including some for the first time without their parents. Arranging comprehensive travel insurance should be at the top of their to-do list before departing. An accident or emergency abroad can end up costing thousands and it’s often the family who is left to cover the costs.”

According to ABTA, 16 per cent of young people wrongly assumed that the UK Government would pick up the bill if they were injured or fell ill while on holiday.

Simmonds continued: “Although we will do what we can to support people who encounter difficulties while abroad, the FCO cannot cover medical bills or fly them home. We urge all travellers, particularly young people, to think about the effect not having comprehensive insurance can have on both themselves and their families. Don’t leave it to others to pick up the pieces if things go wrong.”

According to the FCO and ABTA, medical bills abroad can range from £500 to treat a sprained ankle in Corfu to £20,000 for a scheduled flight, stretcher and medical escort from Australia.

Victoria Bacon of ABTA said: “Every year we see tragic cases of young people who have had an accident or incident while on holiday overseas that requires very serious medical help. In extreme cases people have had to sell their house to cover the costs, or desperately try and get funds from their friend and family. Buying adequate travel insurance should be the top of every holidaymaker’s list.”

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