Warning about travel insurance risks

A travel insurance campaign has targeted the estimated 10 million holidaymakers who went abroad without the right cover last year.

As many as two in five British people who travelled abroad in the past 12 months did so without the right travel insurance, took part in activities which may not have been covered, or did not have any insurance at all.

Travel association ABTA, which carried out the research, has urged holidaymakers to double check they have travel insurance that covers their circumstances and the activities they are planning to do this summer.

While the average cost of a travel insurance claim is £1,296, the cost of medical treatment or repatriation can run into thousands of pounds. Without sufficient cover, many families are having to raise money for treatment or repatriation, with some resorting to crowdfunding.

EHIC confusion

The most common reason for not buying travel insurance was that people felt it wasn’t needed, often because they thought the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) would provide sufficient cover. The EHIC only offers access to state medical care and does not include repatriation to the UK.

For almost one third of people who didn’t buy travel insurance, cost was a barrier and just over one in seven people (15%) said that they received insurance through their bank account.

ABTA is encouraging people who have travel insurance with their bank to check that it covers their requirements as there may be restrictions around age, health, destination and activities.

European cover

One in four British holidaymakers have also risked invalidating their insurance by not telling their insurance companies about pre-existing medical conditions or by taking part in activities without checking they were covered under the policy. Activities as seemingly safe as cycling may require a higher level of cover.

Holidaymakers also need to remember that popular holiday destinations like Turkey, Dubai, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, where thousands of Brits travel each year, will not be covered by a European policy.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “While many people are still choosing not to take out travel insurance at all, others are travelling unaware that their insurance policy is not protecting them as they expect.”