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Travel insurance providers fork out £200 million a year helping Brits abroad with medical emergencies. The figure comes from the Association for British Insurers (ABI), which also calculates that the average claim for healthcare abroad topped £1,300 in 2016 – a rise of 40% in the past five years.

In some cases claims have soared to six-digit figures, with the most expensive payouts made for bills racked up in the US, where one claim totalled an eye-watering £768,000. Shockingly, though, one in four travellers don’t bother with travel insurance, even though the outlay is considerably less expensive than the alternative of forking out for treatment.

In many cases, holidaymakers to Europe incorrectly assume that the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will be enough. While the EHIC does give you access to state-provided healthcare, it doesn’t give you access to specialist or private care should you need it. More importantly, the EHIC doesn’t provide emergency repatriation, which can cost £25,000.

It’s easy to think nothing will happen to you, especially if you’re a careful traveller, but one claim for £136,000 was because of complications due to a simple insect bite in Chile. Other staggering claims include £252,000 for a cycling accident; £125,000 for a jet-ski incident; £74,000 to treat a brain haemorrhage and £60,000 for a road accident.

Putting travel insurance on your holiday checklist might seem like tempting fate, but the whole point of it is to ensure you have a safety net. And it doesn’t have to cost the earth, as Mark Thompson of the ABI says: ‘…the average cost of a single trip policy can be less than what a family spends on snacks at the airport. With a wide range of competitively priced policies available, shop around, don’t forget to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions, and remember that the cheapest policy may not be best for your needs.’

So, there you have it: a choice between jaw-dropping medical costs or a travel insurance policy costing less than a few over-priced airport sandwiches. That’s why you should always comparethemarket.com for peace of mind when you’re off on your travels – all it takes is a few minutes and you can enjoy all the sun and sea that you can handle.

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