02 June 2011

Visiting Friends & 'Rellies' is risky for some

This is a bit startling.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is launching a campaign to try and convince British nationals (they estimate there are 12m of them) who might be planning to visit friends and family abroad - what we used to call "the VFR market" (Visiting Friend and Relatives) in the old days - to take travel insurance with them as well as teabags.

They've been doing some research. Their survey (of 4,647 UK adults) 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.

A third!

Minister for Consular Affairs, Jeremy Browne, said: “With over 5 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.”

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.

Of course it's not just the 'rellies' who end up sorting things out if there's a problem. Often the British Consulate get drawn in too..... which is why they want to highlight it!


They've given some 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.

But what really caught my eye was this video. It's hard to believe people can be so blasé!

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