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Insurance warning for young tourists

Revellers at a beach17/6/14

By Will Roberts

Young holidaymakers are being urged to take out holiday insurance or run the risk of a potentially insurmountable medical bill.

Research from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) shows that more than a third of all young people in Britain do not think it is necessary to take out travel insurance before their holidays abroad.

Often it is the families of those holidaymakers who are forced to pay for things such as medical bills in the case of accident or illness.

Sometimes these bills can run into tens of thousands of pounds, potentially crippling those who have to fork out.

16-24s told to get proper travel cover

The FCO and ABTA are now urging holidaymakers aged 16-24 to pay for proper travel insurance to make sure they are covered.

Despite the potentially massive cost of medical bills abroad, almost half of 16-24 year olds claim the reason they don't take out insurance is because they are willing to take the risk.

The research also shows that one in five mistakenly think that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) acts as a full insurance policy when outside of the UK.

In fact, an EHIC only provides access to state medical care in the European Economic Area.

Insurance costs as little as £25 for annual policy

Other elements of care such as transporting the individual back to the UK are not covered by the card.

ABTA Head of Communications Victoria Bacon said: "Every year ABTA sees tragic cases of young people who have had an accident or incident while on holiday overseas that requires very serious medical help.

"In some of these cases parents are presented with massive medical bills because their children went on holiday uninsured - and this is despite the cost of insurance being as little as £25 for an annual policy.

"In extreme cases people have had to sell their house to cover the costs, or desperately try and get funds from their friends and family. Buying adequate travel insurance should be the top of every holidaymaker's list."

Treatment costs

The survey also found that 16% of young people think all of their treatment costs would be covered by the UK government if they had an accident or fell ill while abroad.

However it is the holidaymaker, or in some cases the family, who would have to pay if the individual is not covered.

Sums can range from £500 to treat a sprained ankle in somewhere like Corfu, to £15,000 to £20,000 for a scheduled flight, stretcher and medical escort from Australia.

More serious injuries which require extensive hospital treatment can cost thousands of pounds a day.

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