One in five travellers, are still running the risk of sky-high medical bills when travelling abroad through not taking out travel insurance in spite of recent high profile cases highlighting the significant risks of doing so to both health and finances.
The alarming statistic was revealed by the 2011 ABTA Consumer Trends survey. This fact may be partly explained by one in five mistakenly believing that the government will cover their bills in the event that something goes wrong. 25% of 15-24 year olds think that this is the case.17% also believe that travel insurance is unnecessary when travelling in Europe if they have a European Health Insurance Card which provides access to basic state medical care and a further 26% mistakenly believe that an EHIC card will cover their repatriation costs if they fall ill or have an accident and have to be flown back to the UK.
John de Vial of ABTA says. "It is very worrying that so many people are putting their health and finances at risk by travelling abroad without insurance. Many wrongly assume that it is the Foreign Office's responsibility to pay for their hospital bills, particularly younger travellers. "
Lynda St Cooke of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office adds, "We remain very concerned at the number of people travelling without travel insurance and then ending up severely out of pocket. If travellers get into difficulties overseas, there are things the nearest embassy or consulate can do, including contacting friends and family for them, and giving them information on how to safely transfer money from the UK. But consular staff cannot pay hospital bills for travellers, nor fly them home."