Underinsured Britons paying for emergency repatriation from Europe, finds report

The findings in a report by CEGA emphasise the importance of valid travel insurance – as well as the European Health Insurance Card (which doesn’t cover repatriation) – for European travel.

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Business and leisure travellers to Europe are paying for emergency medical repatriations back to the UK more often than their counterparts in the rest of the world, according to leading independent travel assistance company CEGA.68 per cent of Britons paying to return to the UK in a medical emergency are coming from Europe, based on repatriations carried out by CEGA over the last 24 months. In contrast, 14 per cent are returning from Asia; 8 per cent from Africa; 4 per cent from the Caribbean; 4 per cent from North America – and just 2 per cent from Oceania. The average age of those seeking to return to Britain in a medical emergency is 48, says CEGA."Many of our patients have not declared pre-existing medical conditions to their insurers, which can invalidate their insurance if they have a health problem whilst they are abroad," says CEGA's Emergency Repatriation Manager Cecilia Geofilo-Pearson, who advises business and leisure travellers to read their travel insurance policy conditions carefully.She adds, "Many others are visitors who go back to their native country and don't consider travel insurance as a necessary precaution." Recent data from the Association of British Travel Agents reveals that a quarter of British people now travel abroad without insurance, although 1 in 5 British travellers has needed to visit a doctor or hospital overseas.Heart problems, stroke and long-term illnesses are common causes of emergency repatriation, according to CEGA, which has seen a 70 per cent rise in private (non-insured) repatriations over the last two years. It also reports that fractures, sports injuries and road accidents frequently contribute to emergencies abroad."In the context of a growing UK economy, a global increase in international travel and a rise in overseas medical tourism, we expect demand for emergency private medical repatriations to increase," concludes Mrs Geofilo-Pearson. "The popularity of adventurous tourism and business travel to emerging destinations, together with older traveller profiles, is also likely to impact on demand."For more Re:locate news and features on Health, click here.

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