Millions of Brits are going on holiday without travel insurance

23 May 2019

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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. 


In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

It's hardly a "holiday", free of the cares and headaches of day to day life, if the anxiety of non insured expenses constantly looms over the downtime break. Why "holiday" if the budget doesn't embrace the real costs, or just choose a holiday option that is manageable. "Holiday" seem to be non-negotiable item in so many peoples' perspective of life.For one reason or another, we've managed to fit in just one week in nearly 3 & half years, but the omission of "the annual holiday" is not even discernible..

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How many people coming for a holiday to this country have travel insurance thats what you should be asking.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Anyone who travels without comprehensive insurance to cover all such risks should never be rescued by our government with tax payers money, no special cases for old, young sick or dying, if you can afford foreign holidays you can afford insurance.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If feels to me that insurance companies get away with murder and have too many get out clauses for not paying. So why bother with the insurance in the first place only to be told, sorry you were cycling and that voids the insurance? Or, sorry, we recognise you took public transport and missed your plan because the train broke down, but that is not covered. I don't pre-plan what I may or may not do on vacation.

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