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Uninsured travel may cost sick tourists millions in U.S., Europe

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Airport. Photo credit: The Travel Magazine


Holidaymakers who don’t take out travel insurance but need medical treatment abroad could be left facing bills of over N47.4 million (£100,000), new figures have revealed.Data has shown that tourists, who aren’t covered, could be forced to pay hundreds and even thousands of pounds for procedures while on holiday.

It comes as one in 10 Brits say they do not pay for travel insurance despite a third of them having to seek medical assistance while abroad. The figure is far higher in Nigeria, where travel insurance is still relatively new.The research by MoneySuperMarket found that one of the most expensive countries for uninsured tourists is the United States.

Minor treatment for a general stomach ache can cost up to N592,500 (£1,250) while a daily room rate in a hospital costs close to N1.9 million (£4,000).Major procedures in America for uninsured travellers can hit the N35.6 million (£75,000) mark while anybody needing a heart by-pass procedure while there could be left with a bill for up to N53.6 million (£113,000).

In Europe, minor treatment for food poisoning is considerably less expensive but could still blow a hole in a holidaymaker’s budget, with it costing N165,900 (£350) in Italy, N241,740 (£510) in Spain and N260,700 (£550) in France.

Brits would also still need to fork out thousands of pounds for major surgery in other popular holiday resorts, as it costs N6.3 million (£13,175) in both Spain and Cyprus. Meanwhile, a hospital daily room rate can cost N208,560 (£440) in Cyprus, N142,200 (£300) in Thailand and South Africa and N82,950 (£175) in Bulgaria.

The USA is the most common location for Brits requiring medical assistance, with just under a quarter (24 per cent) claiming on their travel insurance due to illness or injury. Spain is in second place (23 per cent), followed by France (14 per cent).

The study also found that despite costing an average of N14,694 (£31), 42 per cent of those don’t get cover because it’s “too expensive”, even though it’s a fraction of the cost of medical fees abroad, should injury or illness strike.

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: “It is never worth the risk to book a holiday without travel insurance, regardless of where you are going.“If you fall ill or suffer an injury, medical expenses can cost thousands of pounds. If you need to be repatriated to the UK, the costs can sky-rocket even higher.

“Exclusions usually include dangerous sports and hazardous activities such as scuba diving, horse-riding and rock climbing – so you need to check you’ve got the cover you need. 
“There might also be key conditions, such as a requirement to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, even if it’s not required by local laws.“Taking out travel insurance when you book your holiday also means you’ve got cover in the event that you’re unable to go due to an illness or injury, a family bereavement, or other emergency. You’ll also have cover for your possessions, your personal liabilities and for your problems arising from travel delays.” 


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