As news of volcanic ash once more threatens to ground flights and disrupt holidays, a new poll shows how Britons are knowingly chancing their arm by going away without travel insurance.
Research commissioned by Nationwide Building Society found that around a quarter of respondents who take out travel insurance wouldn’t do so if they were going on a round-the-world trip of up to six months.
This means that travellers are putting themselves at risk of financial difficulties resulting from a range of possible issues, including injury and sickness, to lost and stolen luggage and valuables and natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes or civil unrest.
While Brits visiting European Union countries without insurance can eventually cover most medical bills in Europe using the EHIC form, they would not be covered for additional expenses such as the cost of a delayed return home, additional accommodation or the cost of flying family members out to them.
Equally, they are not covered for theft, lost property or missed flights and cancellations.
Despite this, more than two-in-ten respondents wouldn’t take out travel insurance for a one or two-week holiday in Europe, while a fifth of those surveyed said they would forego travel insurance if they travelled one to two weeks outside of Europe.
However, the Nationwide research shows that some will risk taking travel insurance no matter where they go in the world. Statistics show:
- 24% wouldn’t take out travel insurance for a global holiday of up to six months
- 41% wouldn’t insure themselves for a European weekend getaway
- 38% would not seek cover for a long weekend outside of Europe
- A third are unaware travel insurance can cover you in the UK for delays and cancellations
- Should a holiday need to be cancelled due to illness, fewer people would claim on their travel insurance than negotiating a refund, at 38% compared to more than four in ten. Around one-in-ten people would write the holiday off as a loss.
Not having travel insurance could turn out to be a very costly mistake. For example, the average medical claim is £1,350, although some claims can run in to tens of thousands of pounds. For example, an air ambulance in the USA could cost between £35,000 and £45,000, while a scheduled flight, stretcher and doctor from Australia could cost between £15,000 and £20,000*.
And with an alert recently raised on the potential eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland, it shows how natural disasters can threaten to cause widespread travel disruption as they did in April 2010 when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted. This, added with more common risks such as holiday sickness, injury and lost and stolen items, could leave British holidaymakers out of pocket should the worst happen.
The Nationwide FlexPlus packaged account, which includes travel insurance, does cover some losses arising from natural disasters such as ash clouds, earthquakes and floods.
Phil Smith, Nationwide Head of Current Accounts, said: “Most people’s holidays are the relaxing break they plan, but if things do go wrong you could end up significantly out of pocket if you haven’t taken travel insurance.
“Airlines deal with millions of bags a year, so it’s not surprising that a few get lost in the process. This can be very inconvenient as well as costly to replace.
“The most expensive claims are typically for covering medical expenses where claims can run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. If you or a family member is taken seriously ill abroad it’s likely to be stressful and scary enough, without the worry of how you are going to pay the bill.
“Our FlexPlus current account includes worldwide travel insurance as one of the benefits of the account. The cover is among the best in the market and provides those heading off on holiday, at home or abroad, with peace of mind knowing that they have a high level of protection if difficulties arise.
“Not only does our FlexPlus account provide a whole host of travel benefits, for those travelling by car, either at home or abroad to their holiday destination, it also includes UK and European breakdown cover.”