Nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of British holidaymakers who are going abroad this summer do not have travel insurance for their trip yet, according to ABTA – The Travel Association.
The new research shows that 8.6 million British holidaymakers could be putting themselves at risk of paying substantial medical or repatriation costs if they fall ill or hurt themselves abroad, and may even risk a delay in treatment.
Through a campaign with the Foreign Office, ABTA is encouraging holidaymakers to take out travel insurance as soon as they book their holiday, making sure that the insurance covers any medical conditions or activities they plan to do. ABTA is also advising travellers to keep a copy of the policy number and insurer’s contact details with them at all times while they are away.
Just over one in five (21 per cent) holidaymakers said they travelled without insurance in the last year. Of these people, over a third (37 per cent) said they didn’t think they needed travel insurance and more than a quarter (28 per cent) said it was a risk they were willing to take.
However, the cost of medical treatment or repatriation can run into thousands of pounds, leaving people without insurance extremely vulnerable abroad. Of those who have had to pay an additional cost on holiday due to being uninsured or not having the right cover, more than a third (34 per cent) have had to spend between £500 and £4,000.
ABTA’s research also finds that only a third of people who have bought travel insurance in the past 12 months kept their insurance policy details on them at all times when away; while around one in ten have left the information with family or friends back home or given it to a travel companion (13 per cent and 9 per cent respectively).
ABTA is also reminding people to make sure they take out a travel insurance policy as soon as they book their holiday to help protect them should they need to cancel due to an unexpected event or illness.
ABTA’s chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Millions of holidaymakers are heading off abroad each year either without the right travel insurance in place or without any insurance at all. This leaves people at risk of having to pay significant medical costs or even facing delays in their treatment. Our message is clear – don’t take the risk, take out travel insurance and make sure it covers you for your circumstances and holiday plans.
“It’s also really important that holidaymakers carry a copy of their insurance on them at all times, as well as leaving a copy with family or friends back home. That way they’ll be able to contact their insurer quickly and without hassle, should they need to.”
Julia Longbottom, director of consular of services at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: “Most people enjoy trouble-free holidays overseas. However, I am concerned by these new figures showing that many British holidaymakers continue to travel without insurance. The risks are very clear. You could find yourself paying out thousands of pounds in medical bills if you don’t have insurance. It’s important to know the FCO cannot help fund medical bills if you or a family member are taken ill or hospitalised when abroad.
“Make sure you take out a travel insurance policy that meets your personal needs so you know you are covered should anything happen, and you can focus on having a relaxing holiday.”
ABTA has compiled a list of six things to think about when taking out travel insurance:
- Always tell your travel insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions – if you have an annual policy you must inform your insurer about any changes, even if they seem minor. Don’t be tempted to leave anything out; by not telling your insurer your insurance may be void.
- Activities as seemingly safe as cycling may require a higher level of cover. Before you travel, always check with your insurer if you are covered for any activities you may participate in while on holiday.
- Travel insurance offered for free through bank accounts or cover offered through credit cards, often provides limited protection. Always check your policy to see if there are any restrictions.
- It’s important to have travel insurance as well as a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before you travel in Europe, as EHIC doesn’t cover everything. EHICs expire every five years so make sure your EHIC hasn’t expired before you travel.
- European cover is generally cheaper than worldwide cover; however remember that popular holiday destinations such as Turkey, Dubai, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, where thousands of Brits travel each year, will not be covered by a European policy.
- Take out your insurance policy as soon as you book your holiday, this should protect you from costs if you have to cancel the holiday because due to unforeseen circumstances, such as illness.