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Holiday Illnesses Cause Travel Insurance Payouts to Rocket


Elderly travellers and gap year students are responsible for spiralling medical payouts from travel insurance claims, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The ABI said that the age of those making claims for medical expenses from travel insurance policies played a large part in an increase of more than £200m annually since 2004.

In 2004, the average annual total payout for medical expenses in travel insurance claims was £74m – this has now risen to £275m, says the ABI.

Around £5.3m is paid out weekly for medical expenses from travel insurance claims, which now total around 6,500 per week. This represents an increase of around 270%.

UK holidaymakers report a wide range of Illnesses Abroad, insurers have found – from ear infections to more complex holiday-related illnesses, such as Shigella, Cryptospiridium, Salmonella and Campylobacter – all gastrointestinal illnesses that may be picked up from swimming pools and other public areas.

Poor hygiene and people not washing their hands or showering before and after using swimming pools at holiday accommodation are the most common causes of holiday-related gastrointestinal illnesses – but undercooked meat and untreated milk or cheese can also cause illness.

Birds or insects accessing food buffets that have been left uncovered can also be a source of stomach upsets and illnesses among holidaymakers.

The number of UK claims for emergency medical treatment overseas has increased from 120,000 to 337,000 – and the cost of treatment counts for 55% of the total bill paid put by travel insurers settling Holiday Compensation Claims.

People over the age of 65 are three times more likely to claim on their travel insurance for illness, compared with travellers under the age of 35.

A claim for a broken arm might cost £11,000 to settle – while a serious cardiac arrest and air ambulance transport back to the UK could cost around £86,000.

Travellers over the age of 85 are eight times more likely to make a claim on their travel insurance for medical expenses abroad. Holidaymakers over the age of 80 are 12 times more likely to have to claim for medical treatment abroad says the ABI.

Below the age of 65, risk decreases – a traveller under the age of 50 is three-and-a-half times less likely than someone aged 65 to make a claim for medical expenses abroad.

As well as ear problems, stomach problems and heart attacks abroad, allergies proved another common reason for making medical expenses claims on travel insurance – as well as bipolar disorder, a claim for which might cost insurers £54,000 for treatment abroad and in-transit care or escort back to the UK.

The average cost of medical expenses abroad is £1,300 – Greece is the cheapest country to be treated in (average cost £400), while the US is the most costly (average cost £4,700).

Travelling to countries outside the EU also increases the cost of medical expenses abroad because the European Health Insurance Card does not apply.

Medical expenses abroad are now the most costly unanticipated outlay for holidays that go wrong, making it vital that holidaymakers take out insurance.

If you have suffered illness or accident whilst abroad, you may be able to make a claim for Holiday Compensation.

Simpson Millar has a dedicated Travel Team experienced in handling claims against UK tour operators and can advise you on your case.

Your case may be eligible for a 'No Win No Fee' arrangement, so if you lose, you will not have to pay legal costs.

Call 0808 145 1351 or complete the online enquiry form for a free assessment of your claim.

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Dated: 02/12/2011