According to a recent article by ABTA – Association of British Travel Agents, nearly two-fifths (38%) of British holidaymakers who are going abroad this summer do not have travel insurance for their trip yet.
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%) holidaymakers said they travelled without insurance in the last year. Of these people, over a third (37%) said they didn’t think they needed travel insurance and more than a quarter (28%) 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%) have had to spend between £500 and £4,000.
Recent examples of travel insurance incidents in the media:
- November 2018 – A 30 year old nurse from Swansea passed away after suffering a heart attack while on holiday in Dubai. As she hadn’t taken out travel insurance her family was left to pay £30,000 in medical and repatriation fees.
- March 2019 – A 50 year old woman from West Bromwich was put into an induced coma after suffering pneumonia and bronchiolitis while on holiday in Mexico. Her insurer said she did not disclose an inhaler prescription beforehand and so wouldn’t cover her £300,000 medical bill
- December 2018 – A 61 year old woman from Scotland fell into a coma while on holiday. Insurers said she failed to disclose her medical details and as such would cost over £5,000 for her to be flown home
- July 2018 – A family from Derby who became ill on holiday in Jamaica had to pay a £21,000 medical bill upfront due to the insurer not having the correct medical records
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% and 9% respectively).
Julia Longbottom, Director of Consular 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.”
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