BIBA research reveals travellers using drugs and alcohol could be left high and dry without travel insurance. Mandy Aitchison has further details
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is warning travellers that they could invalidate their travel insurance if they have an incident on holiday while under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs. BIBA’s research into 20 leading travel insurance policies shows a clamp down on drunken behaviour, with all the insurers surveyed having some form of alcohol and drugs exclusion.
BIBA has warned, however, that the exclusions, which have been strengthened in recent years, vary dramatically between insurers and could lead to consumer confusion. Exclusion wording ranges from ‘excessive alcohol intake’ or ‘drinking so much alcohol that your judgment is seriously affected’ through to some policies that reject ‘any claims that result from using alcohol’.
Graeme Trudgill, BIBA’s head of corporate affairs, said: “We believe that travellers will be surprised that there is such a variety of exclusions within policies and they need to understand what level of alcohol could invalidate a claim and, if excessive, it almost certainly will.” BIBA warned that travellers should take reasonable care and not take unnecessary risks while having fun on holiday because having to meet the cost of a rejected claim out of their own pocket can run into thousands of pounds. Further examples of varying policy wording given by BIBA included:
- We do not expect you to avoid alcohol on your trips or holidays but we will not cover any claims arising because you have drunk so much alcohol that your judgment is seriously affected and you need to make a claim as a result;
- Any claim arising directly or indirectly from you having a blood alcohol content level that exceeds 0.19 per cent, this being the equivalent of you having consumed eight units of alcohol in a single session, [will be rejected]. One unit of alcohol equals half a pint of normal strength (four per cent) beer, lager or cider or half a standard 175 ml glass of 12-per-cent wine or one 25ml measure of spirit.
- Any claim arising directly or indirectly from your drug addiction or solvent abuse, excessive alcohol intake, or you being under the influence of drug(s) [will be rejected].
ITIJspoke to Graeme Trudgill about the research. He said: “BIBA completely understands why an insurer would want an alcohol/ drug exclusion. The general conditions section of any policy will talk about taking reasonable precautions as a foundation of the policy and we totally agree.” Regarding why the research was undertaken, he explained: “Our intention was to help raise awareness with younger travellers of this exclusion, particularly seeing some of the terrible accidents we have seen and claims subsequently excluded. We also wanted to point out that policies differ so much, with some insurers excluding any claim that arises from using alcohol; but others talk about excessive intake and others specify the exact blood alcohol limit. So it’s about people understanding what they are/are not covered for.”
Meanwhile in Australia, Allianz 1Cover Travel Insurance has published details of the claims it has received, which reveals that travellers aged in their 20s make the most insurance claims, with the most common of those claims being for damaged personal items, fractures or ligament injuries from skiing or snowboarding accidents, and lost passports. Other popular claims from Australian holidaymakers included motorbike and scooter accidents, as well as claims for gastroenteritis. Commenting on the findings, managing director Eddie Feltham asserted: “We can assume that the heightened claims amongst 20-somethings are both due to their stronger believe of entitlement, as well as binge drinking and the influence of alcohol.” Peter Teen, Allianz Global Assistance claims manager in Australia, said he frequently sees claims that involve hospitalisations that could be attributed to alcohol or drug use.