Just under half of all UK holidaymakers admit they don’t buy travel insurance straight after booking a holiday, new research has revealed.
But without cover the holiday isn’t protected so if the traveller fell ill and wasn’t able to travel, or they had to cancel for another reason, they wouldn’t be able to claim back the money already spent.
There is also a big knowledge gap when it comes to travel insurance with 12 per cent of travellers believing they could cancel their trip and claim on their insurance if their pet died the day before.
Average medical claims for travel insurance in the USA are £1,300 and £800 in Cyprus
Those going away this summer will spend an average of £1,500 on their holidays, the research from Aviva revealed.
Yet 49 per cent don’t buy insurance after booking the holiday and of those 24 per cent instead buy it shortly before they leave the country. A further 2 per cent will buy their cover at the airport while 23 per cent won’t bother buying it at all.
There are lots of reasons for cancelling a holiday such as someone falling ill or a close family member dying.
However, you can only claim on a travel insurance policy if it is in place, therefore by waiting until the last minute to buy one, or not buying one at all, you risk losing any money you’ve already paid out if you do need to cancel.
While it’s important to get insurance before you go to cover cancellation, while you’re away the policy will also cover medical emergencies and your belongings going missing or being lost or damaged.
Medical claims were the most common reason for Aviva customers claiming on their travel insurance last year, used by 33 per cent of customers, followed by 28 per cent claiming for cancellation for a specific circumstance and 13 per cent for lost or stolen personal items or baggage.
The cost of treatment abroad can be significant if you don’t have insurance and need to go to a doctor or a hospital.
Without travel insurance in place cancellation before you go away is not covered
Last year one customer made a claim for £182,000 for treatment for a stroke while in the USA while another made a claim for £191,000 for pneumonia in Malaysia.
The most expensive average cost of claims at £1,300 were made in the USA, followed by £1,200 in Canada and Mexico.
While in Europe the cost of an average claim in Spain was £600, with the highest recorded last year at £52,000 for a heart attack, and £800 in Cyprus, with the highest at £65,000 for a stroke.
If you’re in the European Union on holiday and you have a European Health Insurance Card or EHIC you will have some protection but this is not a substitute for health insurance.
These cards are free and they allow you to access free or reduced cost state-provided healthcare in certain countries while you are abroad. Our guide to why you need a free EHIC lists exactly how they work and the countries included.
The research, which asked 2,001 people about their holidays this year, also revealed that six per cent wrongly believed they could claim on their insurance if they overslept and missed their flight while four per cent thought if they spent too long shopping and drinking at the airport and missed their flight they could use their insurance to claim.
24 of per cent of consumers buy insurance shortly before they go and 23 don’t buy it at all
While each insurance policy is different and you should check the small print carefully before you buy, there are a number of general clauses it’s important to be aware of.
These include getting specialist cover if you’re going on a cruise trip, claims being rejected if the person involved has had too much alcohol and some insurers not accepting claims if the customer has been treated in a private hospital. We have a full list in our article on the five strange clauses hidden in your travel policy.
Adam Beckett, product and propositions director at UK General Insurance, said: ‘Brits are getting prepared for their well-deserved summer holiday by making sure they have all they need for their get-away, but our research shows that buying travel insurance isn’t always top of the list.
‘With almost half of people not getting insurance when they book their holiday, they risk not being able to get their money back if they need to cancel. And with the average Brit spending £1,500 on holidays this year, that’s a lot of money to potentially lose.
‘Travel insurance provides important protection before you go away, say if you, or a close relative, falls ill. It’s also there for medical emergencies while abroad which can be very costly, or if your belongings are lost or stolen. It’s important to get the right protection for your needs so you can relax on holiday knowing you are fully covered.’
Travel insurance check list
There are a number of things to watch out for when buying a travel insurance policy to make sure you have the right cover should you need to claim.
– Check your baggage cover to see if expensive items will be covered or if you need additional cover and check if there are any conditions such as ensuring your valuables are kept in your hand luggage.
– Buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday to ensure there’s cover for any listed cancellation reason.
– If your holiday is in the UK there may be extra conditions such as booking at least two nights’ stay beforehand and the distance you are travelling to get there.
– Check what activities are covered as standard and which are excluded, for example scuba diving or winter sports.
– If you have a pre-existing medical condition this needs to be declared when you are applying for your travel insurance policy.