Young travellers ignore insurance warnings

Millennials are reshaping the travel industry, but it appears this generation isn’t getting the message about buying insurance for trips overseas.

Two in five (40%) people aged 18-24 travelled abroad uninsured in the 12 months to May — running the risk of costly medical bills should something go wrong.

The figure, which was revealed in a survey of 2,000 Britons by travel association ABTA, is a sharp rise on the 31% of young people who went on holiday without an insurance policy the previous year.

Across all age groups, a quarter of all travellers were uninsured, up from 22% in the year to May 2016. Young travellers in the 25-34 age group also saw a sharp increase, from 31% to 38%.

Crowdfunding plea

More than a third of those who travelled abroad without insurance said they thought they didn’t need it, while 22% said it was a risk they were willing to take.

But with the cost of medical treatment running into thousands of pounds, some uninsured Britons and their families are having to resort to crowdfunding in order to raise money for medical treatment or repatriation.

ABTA quoted several examples where loved ones turned to the kindness of strangers, including the case of a man from South Yorkshire whose family raised £30,000 so he could continue his treatment in the UK after falling ill in Thailand.

Rising medical costs

The rising cost of medical treatment abroad has been highlighted in separate figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which revealed that pay-outs of £1 million a day were made to travellers in 2016 — the highest figure since 2010.

Payments for emergency medical treatment accounted for over half — 54% — of all claims costs at £199 million. These included a £100,000 bill for treating an abscess in the United States, £16,000 for the treatment of a fractured leg in a motorcycle accident in Thailand, and £11,000 to remove a brain tumour in Spain.

The ABI pointed out that the cost of the average annual travel insurance policy is £37, compared to the average medical claim of £1,300.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer added: “Every year we see cases of people falling into difficulty due to travelling without insurance. Often their families have to raise thousands of pounds for their treatment or repatriation and that’s why it is so worrying to see an increase in younger people travelling without insurance.”