FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE FIGURES REVEAL BRITS RUNNING INTO MORE DIFFICULTIES ABROAD

by Alister POOLE on July 20, 2012

Press release

Press release and report strictly embargoed until 00.01 on the 19 July 2012

FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH OFFICE FIGURES REVEAL BRITS
RUNNING INTO MORE DIFFICULTIES ABROAD

10 Britons hospitalised abroad per day with families facing huge bills if travel insurance has not been arranged

The Foreign Office’s yearly British Behaviour Abroad report recently showed that over a period of one year, measured from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012, staff at the Foreign Office handled 19,874 cases that required assistance – which is up three per cent from the previous year. Notably, Spain, USA and France recorded the highest amount of cases.

The Foreign Office report highlighted significant increases in the amount of hospitalisations that were reported to consular staff with British people travelling to hotspots that include Spain, Greece and Egypt. In the last measured year, 70 Brits per week were hospitalised while abroad. Over 30 per cent of these incident occurred in Spain, with half on the popular islands of Ibiza and Majorca - both of which have experienced steep rises in the amount of cases over the last two years.

Jeremy Browne, of the Minister for Consular Services said:

“Although the thought of having to stay in a foreign hospital might be the very last thing on the mind of Britons as they head overseas to enjoy a summer break, things can and often do go wrong on overseas holidays sometimes with many people later regretting that they didn’t take out adequate travel insurance.

“Time and again, we witness numerous cases where people invalidated their policies – perhaps by failing to declare pre-existing medical conditions or not checking whether or not their policy covers particular activities, such as hiring mopeds. Unfortunately, surprises later arrive when they learn that their Foreign Office simply cannot foot their bills and ticket home for them.

“For these reasons, I urge anyone that is heading overseas in the summer to make sure they have researched their destination, taken out adequate travel insurance, and checked the fine print of their policy carefully.”

New research conducted by the Foreign Office also revealed that from the 2,000 Britons that were surveyed, roughly half (48 per cent) don’t realise that they will be liable to shell out for medical bills if ever injured or taken sick whilst abroad despite having travel insurance cover.

Emergencies abroad can be incredibly expensive, with medical treatment costing thousands of pounds and consular staff witnessing a string of distressing cases that involved families that were forced to raise huge sums of money just to pay hospital or repatriation bills. Research also revealed how almost four out of five people confessed that they wouldn’t have the funds to pay £10,000 for covering hospital bills of uninsured loved ones abroad.

The FCO is urging Brits to keep three key facts in mind before setting off abroad this summer:
Guarantee comprehensive travel insurance – but scan the small print after!
Research the health requirements – in order for the appropriate right vaccinations or malaria medication to be received if required.
Read up on your destination – those that are more clued always enjoy the smoothest trips.
A string of other key findings have been highlighted by the report, which includes:
Spain is where most Britons need consular assistance, with 1105 hospitalisations, however most consular assistance is required in countries such as the Philippines and Thailand.
The amount of rape cases that were reported to consular staff jumped by 10 per cent
Deaths of Brits abroad have increased by four per cent.
A 10 per cent rise in emergency travel documents that were issued to those with lost or stolen has been experienced.

Please read the British Behaviour Abroad report 2012 if any further details are required.

For information on how the FCO is able to help those that get into trouble overseas, please head to www.fco.gov.uk/travel

To see the amount of Brits requiring consular assistance overseas mapped, head to
http://bit.ly/bba-2012

The FCO has been encouraging people to head to Facebook and Twitter to ensure that they are fully informed of up-to-date travel advice: www.facebook.com/fcotravel or twitter.com/fcotravel

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