Don’t Rely on a Giving Page for Holiday Hospital Costs

June 28, 2024

Think a ‘giving’ page would get you or a loved one out of a real financial pickle, if you fell ill abroad and didn’t have travel insurance to pick up the medical bill or pay for medical repatriation?  Think again!

In advance of Insurance Awareness Day on June 28, Europesure Travel Insurance, has discovered that only 18% of consumers would contribute to a fundraising page seeking to ‘rescue’ a holidaymaker.  

The rescue and urgent request for donations is typically required because the traveller did not buy travel insurance before heading abroad, or because they invalidated a policy, by withholding material facts or doing something in contravention of its terms.

Setting up such ‘giving’ pages has become a go-to strategy for the family of loved ones who have been stranded in a foreign hospital.  These holidaymakers are unable to afford to be repatriated back to their home country or, in other cases, leave the hospital or country until medical bills have been settled.

With so many consumers saying that would not ‘give’, to get a holidaymaker out of a hole, where would that leave you, if you needed to raise funds to pay for your uninsured medical scenario?

The answer to this question is that you could be in financial ruin. Regardless of whether you have received private healthcare in a European hospital, or had private care in a country beyond Europe, you are likely to be facing a five-figure sum, often of large proportions, for even a moderately serious medical problem.  

If you are treated in a US or Canadian hospital, the medical bill will be around £$2900 but the average stay is 4-5 days.[i] That means a 5-day stay alone could set you back about nearly £11,500 or €13,420. 

Should you need to be repatriated back to your home country, or to a country or location that can provide you with specialist healthcare,  the cost of an air ambulance, with medical support, is eye-watering.

For instance, if you require repatriation by air ambulance from Turkey to the UK, the cost for the flight and all the medical support would leave you with a bill in the region of £22,500.[ii]  Come back from a location such as the Caribbean in such medical transportation and the cost would be around £60,000 or the equivalent in Euros.

Even if you require additional accommodation for a family member who has to stay with you whilst you recover, or for your own recuperation pre return travel flight, you will be racking up costs.  You might also have to arrange for special seating arrangements on a plane home, if not travelling by air ambulance, which will be far more than the cost of a standard ticket.

Should you be holidaying in somewhere like the Caribbean and fall ill, you may find yourself having to be transferred to a city such as Miami, according to your condition. This means repatriation expenses immediately being incurred, as no other choice exists.  It could also mean that huge American medical bill being inadvertently racked up.

And do remember that you are not skilled in any of this – organising air ambulances, booking special airline transport, or even liaising with authorities in a different language.  If you have travel insurance, all of this is done for you.

How do people get into this situation?

Sometimes, the failure to buy travel insurance has been a deliberate ploy, to save money.  At other times, the situation is caused through lack of honesty about pre-existing medical conditions. The holidaymaker has gambled on such conditions not causing an issue whilst they are overseas.  

88% of consumers told Europesure that they feel that too many people choose to buy travel insurance, relying on others to “dig them out of a hole”.

In some cases, the holidaymaker has simply forgotten to buy travel insurance before travelling.  Nearly one-in-five (19%) of consumers admits to having previously and innocently forgotten to buy travel insurance, before a holiday.

Often, it has been a case of believing that the EHIC or GHIC health cards will cover any medical care required.  What holidaymakers fail to realise is that these cards only provide cover for state health care.  They will also not provide any repatriation support or recompense for extra expenditure on changed or special travel arrangements, or additional accommodation required for medical recuperation pre return flight, or for somewhere for accompanying travel companions to stay, whilst you are in hospital. 

In many holiday locations, the only care available is not state healthcare but private healthcare and the only ancillary services, such as ambulances, are also privately run.  This leaves the holidaymaker, who is without insurance, in a situation where they are then left paying the care bill.  

In some countries, such as Spain, the traveller can unwittingly be given private healthcare, even when the hospital also offers state healthcare.  It is important, on hospital admission, for any holidaymaker to make it clear that they want state healthcare and, if travelling in Europe, to show their health card, to try to make that point.

For expats who lack insurance it has sometimes been a case of thinking differently since living abroad and having too much confidence in not falling ill or requiring repatriation when travelling in mainland Europe.

With perhaps a hardening attitude towards ‘giving’ pages, as budgets are squeezed by other costs, the risk that many holidaymakers are taking is just not worth taking.  

Europesure’s sales and marketing director, Paul O’Sullivan, says: “Our message is the same whether it is Insurance Awareness Day or any other day. Do not even contemplate travelling without insurance.  It can put your financial future in jeopardy, as well as your health and wellbeing.  

“Travel insurance is highly affordable and offers priceless support, if called upon to assist. It covers many aspects of loss that could be incurred during a trip and will provide recompense for holiday cancellation, if circumstances force that to happen and the cover has been purchased early enough in the planning phase. 

“However, the huge losses are undoubtedly those that surround overseas medical care and that – or the sad repatriation of a body – is always what the ‘giving’ pages are focused upon.  Knowing that 82% of people will not give money to such a ‘cause’, because the whole scenario was totally preventable, should make more holidaymakers think ‘what if?’ and buy a travel insurance policy for their trip immediately.”

Europesure Travel Insurance offers comprehensive single trip and annual policies, backed by Lloyd’s of London, and has a number of optional add-ons, such as terrorism cover, golf cover and Covid cover.  It offers travel insurance to residents of the UK, EU, EEA, Monaco and Gibraltar, with its European clients being both European nationals and British expats.  Head to https://www.europesuretravelinsurance.com to find out more.


[i] https://www.valuepenguin.com/hospital-bill-costs-study#:~:text=typical%20hospital%20stay.-,The%20average%20per%2Dday%20hospital%20cost%20is%20%242%2C883%2C%20but%20the,hospital%20stay%20cost%20increased%20161.7%25.

[ii] https://www.iasmedical.com/europe/air-ambulance-turkey/

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These travel insurance products are brought to you by Europesure Insurance. For EU and EEA policies: Status Europesure Insurance Cyprus is a trading name of Status Insurance Agents, Sub-Agents and Consultants CY Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Insurance Companies Control Service in Cyprus, number 5015. Incorporated in Cyprus, Number HE394801: 5 Rafael Santi, 1st Floor, Office 101, 6052 Larnaca, Cyprus. Status Insurance Agents, Sub-Agents and Consultants CY Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Status Insurance Management Ltd. For UK and Gibraltar policies, Europesure Insurance is a trading name of Status Insurance Management Ltd which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK. Their FCA number is 305697. Registered in England Number 1785590: First Floor, Jebsen House, 53-61 High Street, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 7BD.
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