There have been lots of recently publicised cases about the troubles encountered by British travellers who have travelled abroad without travel insurance, and ended up paying a heavy price in terms of stress and financial hardship. If you go abroad without travel insurance you are effectively gambling that you will have a trouble-free time away and depriving yourself of the peace-of-mind that comprehensive travel insurance affords. As we tighten our belts in these times of recession, travel insurance can sometimes be jettisoned as an “unnecessary expense” but this can prove to be a false economy, as witnessed time and time again by the fallout when a dream trip takes a turn for the worse. Travel insurance can cover lots of potential problems including lost baggage and stolen possessions, but the key area of cover is medical cover and repatriation, as the costs of these can be extremely high.
Steve Cleverdon, a recent guest on ITV’s daybreak was left to rue his decision not to take the precaution of travel insurance when he broke his neck in Malaysia, and experienced significant difficulties and delays in finding a hospital willing to treat him without having insurance, and faced a hefty £4, 000 bill for the treatment that he ended up receiving.
Recent research by ABTA has uncovered the worrying statistic that 25% of British travellers now go abroad without travel insurance, which has risen from 20% in 2011.
Reasons that people often give for not buying travel insurance include:
- They are travelling in the EU and have an EHIC. 17% (and a third of 15-24 year olds) wrongly assume that an EHIC acts as travel insurance. An EHIC entitles you to the same standard of treatment as a local, but you often still have to contribute to your treatment, and it won’t pay for you to be repatriated back to the UK.
- 16% mistakenly believe that travel insurance is superfluous as the UK Government will pay for treatment if they fall ill abroad. The FCO can offer advice and assistance but if something goes wrong, you have to pick up the cost of the medical bills yourself.
- Almost half of Brits mistakenly believe that it would cost £5000 or less to treat a broken leg in America, but the actual amount can be more than eight times this figure. We are lulled into a false sense of security by having the NHS in this country, but it is very different abroad, with costs varying depending what you do and where you are.
- Research by the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) shows that a third of the people who neglect to take insurance are only going on a short break – yet illness or problems can strike at any time.
- A quarter say travel insurance is too expensive. It pays to shop around, and this short-term attitude can unfortunately lead to a bill for many thousands of pounds for medical treatment if you are ill or injured whilst away.
- People often assume that travel cover in place through bank accounts will give them adequate cover, but this is often not the case, as there may be limitations in place that invalidate your cover for the trip you are embarking on e.g. trip duration or coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
In addition to this, some people are buying a policy, but are then effectively wasting their money, as they then invalidate it by either not declaring a pre-existing medical condition (or a significant change) or not getting cover for adventurous activities.
Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds sums it up:
“It won’t happen to me” or “I’ll be fine” are risky assumptions to make when deciding whether or not to take out comprehensive travel insurance. Our consular staff around the world deal with thousands of cases each year that prove that things can and do go wrong. Being prepared can mean the difference between the holiday of a lifetime and the holiday from hell. Being unwell abroad is stressful enough without the added pressure of having to find thousands of pounds to pay for treatment.”
One person who was very glad that he brought travel insurance prior to his trip to China for a year, was Go Walkabout customer ‘T’ who bought our great-value ‘Backpacker’ policy prior to setting off. Travel insurance is one of those products that you buy in the hope that you won’t actually have to use it, but he is a great example of how the safety-net of insurance comes into its own when the chips are down. He was on a one-year trip to China when he suffered a serious injury, and really appreciates the help he received, both to pay for treatment, but also to the people who advised and assisted him throughout the process.
He recently contacted us to praise our travel insurance product and to pass on his thanks to the Emergency Assistance team (who are on call 24/7) who he described as being “absolutely fantastic. I was facing a difficult and extremely serious situation and they did everything in their power to help me. They are absolutely wonderful, caring people and I would like to express my thanks and gratitude.”
When you are potentially travelling on your own, and are in a country where you may not know anybody, it can be incredibly frightening and stressful to arrange appropriate treatment, and it is reassuring to know that knowledgeable and experienced help and advice is only a phonecall away.
He goes on to add:
“I honestly am exceptionally impressed by the company – you were fantastic. I was so scared and frightened, but the minute I spoke to your team, I felt so much better, it was as if someone else was taking my problem and dealing with it for me. After it was decided I was to fly home, I was flown home within 24 hours. I must admit when I bought the insurance, I wasn’t sure what kind of service I could expect, as it was a relatively ‘budget’ choice. But the help I received was unparalleled, and I have already been and will continue to recommend your insurance to anyone who goes travelling. I am so very, very grateful and I just don’t know how to express this.”
It is lovely to receive this kind of feedback from a customer, where our insurance has provided genuine care and assistance to a person in need, and of course there are countless other examples of people where travel insurance has come through when people are at their most vulnerable.
The other side of the coin, is of course the all-too-frequent horror stories of the totally avoidable mental, physical and financial strains that result from a lack of travel insurance. Dare you take the risk on your next trip abroad? Of course, travel insurance comes at a cost, but peace of mind on your holiday or dream trip is priceless….
Click here for a quote for great value, comprehensive travel insurance.