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Travel Insurance: don't gamble with your cover this summer

Ross Penstone-Smith, Policy Adviser, General Insurance, ABI Ross Penstone-Smith, Policy Adviser, General Insurance, ABI

With the school holidays around the corner, many families will be getting ready to head off overseas to get away from it all and enjoy a summer break. While the majority of holidays pass without incident, taking out the right travel insurance policy should be a priority to ensure you are properly covered should something go wrong.

The average annual travel insurance policy costs just £34 and can give holidaymakers the peace of mind they are covered against the potentially high cost of medical treatment and offer protection against lost or stolen possessions, or cancellation in some circumstances.

As the latest ABI travel insurance figures show, last year travel insurers paid out £370 million to 581,000 holidaymakers who needed help when they were abroad and made a claim on their insurance policy. Despite this, travel insurance is still often not top of traveller’s lists when planning a holiday, with more than one in five still taking the risk to travel uninsured.

The main purpose of travel insurance is to cover potentially high medical bills or repatriation should you fall ill or have an accident whilst abroad. The average cost of a claim for medical expenses is £1,022, though some claims can be significantly higher. For example, a fall resulting in a broken hip, requiring emergency treatment in a Spanish hospital with return flights, can cost upwards of £15,000.

The average cost of a claim for medical expenses is £1,022, though some claims can be significantly higher.

To help insure against potential risks, travellers should start looking for cover as early as possible and take out a policy when they book their holiday, not when they’re packing their suitcase. This can help to ensure they are covered should something happen before their trip which means they are no longer able to travel.

There are lots of different insurers and policies out there, so people should take the time to shop around to ensure they have cover that meets their needs. This is especially important for travellers with medical conditions.

When buying a travel insurance policy, it is important to answer any questions about your medical history fully and honestly. This can avoid potential problems if your insurer becomes aware of important but non-disclosed information, when attempting to make a claim. You may also think about using a specialist insurer or broker who can help to find you an insurance policy specifically for people with medical conditions. The British Insurance Brokers’ Association run a ‘Find a Broker’ service and can be contacted on 0870 950 1790.

While most people enjoy a trouble-free time when abroad, having the right cover in place can help guard against the risks associated with travelling; whether that be the Government changing its advice on travel to a country, travel disruption you may experience or the potentially high cost of emergency medical treatment abroad, if it is needed.

Before you go away, make sure you understand what your travel insurance covers you for and speak to your insurer if anything is unclear. You can also find more advice and information about travel insurance on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office webpages and the ABI website.

Ross Penstone-Smith is a Policy Adviser on the General Insurance team at the ABI.

Last updated 29/06/2016