New research by leading price comparison website, MoneySuperMarket, today reveals that although a third of Brits have required medical treatment while on holiday, one in 10 still do not take out travel insurance.

Despite only costing £31 on average1, 42 per cent 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.

The study reveals that 44 per cent of 25-34 year-olds have required medical treatment on holiday, with Londoners more likely to need medical attention than people from any other part of the UK at 55 per cent, compared to Wales at 31 per cent, the North West at 30 per cent and the Midlands at 28 per cent.  The research also reveals that men are more likely to have medical problems than women, with 40 per cent becoming unwell or suffering injury compared to just 25 per cent of women.

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).

This may be because Brits travelling to most countries in Europe are able to obtain emergency medical treatment on the same terms as a local resident if they are carrying an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which is available free from the NHS. This can reduce or even eliminate any fees for the treatment received.

It’s important to state that an EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance since the policy will provide essential cover for problems such as cancellation and the loss or theft of belongings.

Gastroenteritis, often caused by drinking unsafe tap water or a change in diet, is the most common ailment suffered by British travellers. More serious common health issues include broken bones, heart conditions and respiratory problems.

Top 8 medical reasons for travel insurance claims

1.      Gastroenteritis/food poisoning

2.      Heart condition

3.      Respiratory-related condition

4.      Broken bones

5.      Ear infection

6.      Cancer related conditions

7.      Diabetes and related complications

8.      Stroke conditions

Even minor treatment for cases of food poisoning or general stomach upsets are considerably more expensive across the Atlantic at £1,250, over double that of Spain (£510) and France (£550) and over three times that of Italy (£350).

MoneySuperMarket claims data revealed that major procedures in the USA costs around £75,000 and a daily room rate in hospital costs close to £4,000. Medical treatment associated with a heart by-pass in the USA costs a massive £113,000.

Although Brits would still need to fork out thousands of pounds for major surgery in other popular holiday resorts, costs in Spain (£13,175) and Cyprus (£13,175) are five times lower than the USA. In fact, a hospital daily room rate is over 10 times less expensive in Cyprus (£440), Thailand (£300), Bulgaria (£175) and South Africa (£300).