The Foreign Office is urging Brits to reassess their priorities when visiting friends and family abroad. Over 12 million British nationals are planning to visit friends and family abroad this year1 but new research published today by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shows that young people are more likely to buy a present for their host than take out a travel insurance policy.

The survey shows that a third of people did not take out travel insurance the last time they stayed with family and friends overseas. More than three quarters (77%) of those who stated they were visiting friends and family this year said that saving money is a key factor in this decision. However, not taking out comprehensive travel insurance cover is often a false economy as people could face serious financial difficulty if they need medical treatment or lose valuable possessions.

Minister for Consular Affairs, Jeremy Browne, said: “With over five million Britons living abroad, people are increasingly making the most of opportunities to visit their loved ones across the world. However, it’s important to understand that staying in someone’s home does not make you exempt from encountering serious problems. Take the same steps before you go as you would for any other holiday, such as taking out travel insurance and doing some pre-trip research, to ensure you are prepared if something does go wrong.”

Friends and family will love to see you but do make sure you travel safely

Despite the belief that they don’t have to prepare for a holiday when visiting friends and family, 39% of British nationals have ended up relying on their host when things have gone wrong during their trip. British expats hosting visitors have to deal with a range of problems from taking their guests to hospital when they fall ill to providing financial help.

Dean Churm, British Consul for Florida, said: “What would your host appreciate more? A box of teabags or dealing with a hefty medical bill because you had an accident and were not insured? Getting comprehensive travel insurance means that while an accident may disrupt your holiday, it won’t bankrupt you in extortionate medical or repatriation bills”

Examples of cases handled by the Foreign Office:

  • A man was visiting his mother in Canada and extended his stay. He suffered a heart attack and had to pay over $40,000 in medical bills as his insurance had lapsed during the prolonged trip.
  • A man had a stroke while visiting family in Cape Town. He was taken to a private hospital but could not pay for the treatment nor did he have any health insurance. The family could not cover the increasing costs and he was moved to state facilities where the level of treatment is significantly lower and where he eventually died.
  • A woman did not take anti-malarial medication before visiting her mother in Tanzania as she’d been to the area many times before. She became sick and was diagnosed with cerebral malaria which she later died from.

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Gifts Brits pack for their loved ones living abroad:

  • Food including teabags, shortbread, custard and baked beans
  • Alcohol including whisky and wine
  • Clothes including UK football club shirts
  • British memorabilia including Union Jack mug and a board game

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