About 40% of young people go abroad without travel insurance, risking medical fees of thousands of pounds if they are taken ill, a survey suggests.
The Association of British Travel Agents surveyed 2,043 Britons and found those aged 18 to 24 were the most likely to go abroad without insurance.
It comes after the family of a South Yorkshire traveller in Thailand had to raise £32,000 for his medical care.
Overall a quarter of UK travellers are thought to go abroad without insurance.
In 2015, 35-year-old Craig Lindley, from Barnsley, fell ill while celebrating a friend’s wedding on a Thai island.
He was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome – which affects the peripheral nervous system – and was left paralysed
He was charged £20,000 for a five-day course of treatment in Bangkok.
His ambulance and speedboat from the island to Koh Samui Hospital also cost £17,000.
After an online appeal his family and friends raised £32,000 towards his medical bills.
The Association of British Travel Agents’ (Abta) Mark Tanzer said: “Rather than having to resort to the kindness of strangers, holidaymakers should make sure that they have the right insurance in place.”
‘Increase on previous years’
Overall, the number of British travellers surveyed without insurance has risen to 25% in the 12 months to May, up from 22% the previous year.
Mr Tanzer added: “Every year, we see cases of people falling into difficulty due to travelling without insurance.
“Often their families have to raise thousands of pounds for their treatment or repatriation and that’s why it is so worrying to see an increase in younger people travelling without insurance.”
In 2016, Michael Doyle, 29, was admitted to a private hospital in Bulgaria after being diagnosed with blood poisoning.
He required dialysis treatment which he received in the hospital, but he passed away before his parents were able to raise about £20,000 required to bring him back to the UK for more treatment.
His father John has advised people to get travel insurance. He said: “Go and enjoy yourself, Bulgaria is an excellent place to go, it’s not different from anywhere else in the world but you need to have insurance.”
Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokeswoman Susan Crown said: “”The FCO cannot pay medical bills if you are hospitalised abroad, nor can we fly you home.
“Take out an appropriate insurance policy and make sure you know what it covers you for. It may feel like an added expense but it’s very worthwhile if you compare it to what you could end up paying if something goes wrong on holiday.”