A new report published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shows a marked rise in the number of British citizens abroad calling upon its staff to provide assistance. For the year ending 31 March 2012, 19,874 cases were handled, which is a three per cent increase on a year earlier.
The British Behaviour Abroad report, which is published annually, highlighted an increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital while travelling overseas. Around 70 Brits needed hospital treatment every week. Over 30 per cent of cases were recorded in Spain and half of these were on the popular tourist islands of Ibiza and Majorca.
A survey of more than 2,000 Brits found that 48 per cent were unaware that they are liable for all medical expenses if taken ill in a foreign country without adequate insurance. Last year saw a number of cases where families in the UK had to raise large sums of money to pay for a loved one’s hospital bills and repatriation costs to the UK.
Jeremy Browne, Minister for Consular Services, urged people going on holiday to make sure that they are fully insured before stepping onto a plane. He said: “Whilst the prospect of ending up in a foreign hospital may be the last thing on your mind as you head overseas for a summer break, sometimes things do go wrong on holiday and many people deeply regret not taking out comprehensive travel insurance.
“We witness many cases where people have invalidated their policy – perhaps by not declaring a pre-existing medical condition or not checking their policy covers a particular activity, such as hiring a moped. Unfortunately, they are then surprised that the Foreign Office cannot pay for their bills and flight home.”