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The importance of travel insurance

The importance of travel insurance

Category: Travel insurance

Updated: 21/07/2015
First Published: 21/07/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

If you're jetting off on your holidays soon, thoughts of what to pack and where to get your currency will probably be at the top of the list. But what about travel insurance? It's one of those things that far too many people overlook, but this could be a big mistake.

The cost of cover vs. the cost of a claim

Latest figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) highlight the need for travel insurance: last year, insurers paid out £370million in 581,000 claims to travellers who needed help when they were abroad, and it isn't only about lost luggage or cancelled flights.

Their data went on to reveal that travel insurers pay out almost £4 million every single week to help around 4,000 people who fall ill abroad. In total, claims were made by 202,000 travellers who needed medical treatment overseas last year, amounting to more than £206 million to cover the cost of emergency treatment. More people claim for medial treatment than for cancellation costs or lost and stolen possessions, yet despite this, 22% of holidaymakers still risk travelling without insurance.

You just need to think about how much it could cost to have treatment abroad to see how important the right insurance policy can be. In fact, the average cost for medical expenses on a travel insurance policy has risen to £1,022, up from £930 a year ago – could you afford to cover the bill? Add to that the fact that the average travel insurance policy costs just £32 for the whole year, and you'll soon see that it makes a lot more sense to invest in suitable cover.

James Dalton, director for General Insurance at the ABI, commented on the findings: "No one wants to go on holiday and have to make a claim on their travel insurance, but for some travellers, having something go wrong can be a very real experience. Falling ill abroad can be very traumatic, but travel insurance can cover the potentially high medical treatment costs, which can run into the tens of thousands. Travel insurers pay out almost £4 million every week to help to ease the stress and cushion the blow when there is a medical emergency abroad."

The ABI's top tips for travelling abroad

  • Always carry a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling on the continent. It's free and allows you to receive emergency treatment from public hospitals across Europe, but don't use it as a substitute for travel insurance – it won't be enough!
  • When taking out a policy, shop around for the best deal. However, this doesn't mean you should buy a policy based on price alone – the cheapest policy may not cover all of your needs, so don't be swayed by price.
  • Act responsibly and remain vigilant. In general, travel insurance policies won't cover accidents that take place when someone hasn't taken reasonable care or had excessive amounts of alcohol, so while holidays are all about relaxing and letting your hair down, it's important to retain some sense of control, too.
  • If you have a medical condition, you may want to use a specialist insurer or broker to find travel insurance that will suit your needs. The same applies if you're planning on undertaking "risky" activities, as standard insurance may not cover you.

What next?

Compare travel insurance policies so you're completely covered

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

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