Nearly two-fifths of British holidaymakers going abroad this summer do not have travel insurance for their trip, new research shows.
According to Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), 38% of British holidaymakers going abroad this summer do not have travel insurance for their trip yet.
This means 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, even risking a delay in treatment.
The survey of 2,000 people found that just over one in five (21%) holidaymakers said they travelled without insurance in the last year.
Of these, over a third (37%) said they did not think they needed travel insurance and more than a quarter (28%) said it was a risk they were willing to take.
For those who had to pay an additional cost on holiday due to being uninsured or not having the right cover, more than a third (34%) have had to spend between £500 and £4,000.
The cost of medical treatment or repatriation can run into thousands of pounds, leaving people without insurance extremely vulnerable abroad.
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.
Mark Tanzer, chief executive of ABTA, says: “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 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.”
Six things to think about when taking out travel insurance
ABTA has six key tips for holidaymakers:
- 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 then 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 like 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.