Travel Insurance – don’t travel without it
As a nation we love travelling and taking our holidays abroad. But the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are concerned that as many as 4 million of us are heading overseas each year without adequate travel insurance. It’s an additional expense, it’s not compulsory and you might not need it of course! Plus, you might have some cover on your credit card. Another survey revealed that nearly one in five of us think that an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) – makes travel insurance redundant. Despite being free and certainly beneficial when travelling in Europe, although the EHIC entitles holders to the same care that would be given to a citizen of the country you are visiting, this is a very restricted cover.
Ambulance costs, medical rescue and repatriation are typically excluded. Worse still, there are many reports of the EHIC being refused, most notably in Spain, where hospitals are asking British tourists to sign waivers which null and void the EHIC, insisting on travel insurance documents or cash payments on the spot, before sanctioning any treatment. An emergency abroad can be incredibly expensive. If you need to be returned to the UK by air ambulance it can cost approx. £45,000 from Florida or £15,000 from Europe. Medical bills can run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Furthermore, it’s vital that you check that you are covered for any activities that you are undertaking while away. Alarmingly, recent ABTA research found growing numbers of skiers and snowboarders travelling with insufficient cover too. Don’t forget that team sports on tour such as football, hockey and rugby as well as skiing and snowboarding are all commonly excluded from standard policies. In essence though, your travel insurance policy should cover you for: medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad; 24 hour English speaking emergency assistance; personal liability cover in case you are sued for causing injury or damaging property; cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip); and for lost and stolen possessions.
However, you must always advise insurers of any pre-existing medical conditions, recurring injuries or illnesses, surgeries and operations at the time you book, or you may invalidate a claim. We all travel everywhere with smartphones and tablets these days and many of us seem to be unable to live without them! But they are often not covered unless you pay an additional premium. Furthermore, even good quality insurance doesn’t absolve you from taking care of your own personal belongings. Insurers won’t take kindly to a claim when you’ve left your new camera on a sun lounger while you take a dip in the pool.
We’ve all done daft things on holidays abroad – especially when we were younger – but making good decisions as well as having fun, are both important. Of course booking your trip or holiday with a reputable travel company is always an excellent place to start. Not only can you receive free advice and friendly customer service, good travel agents and tour operators will also give you security for the holiday monies paid by you through an Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL) or Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) bond.
Travel insurance may seem like an unnecessary or unaffordable extra but you really shouldn’t travel without it.