According to new research from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a notable proportion of British holidaymakers may travel uninsured when they head off overseas for their summer holiday this year. The research found that as many as 38 per cent of Brits planning to go abroad this summer do not yet have travel insurance, putting themselves at major – and entirely unnecessary – risk.
The research also found that 21 per cent of surveyed holidaymakers have travelled uninsured over the last year; of these, 37 per cent said that travel insurance wasn’t necessary, and 28 per cent said that while they were aware of the risk, they were happy to take it. Notably, of those who said that they have been required to pay out while on holiday because they were either uninsured or underinsured, 34 per cent said that they had to spend between £500 to £4,000.
ABTA has partnered with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) to spread awareness among travellers of the importance of insurance, encouraging them to purchase it as soon as they book their trips, so that they can be 100-per-cent certain of peace of mind from booking to their departure to their return.
“Most people enjoy trouble-free holidays overseas,” said Julia Longbottom, the FCO’s Director of Consular Services. “However, I am concerned by these new figures showing that many British holidaymakers continue to travel without insurance. The risks are very clear. You could find yourself paying out thousands of pounds in medical bills if you don’t have insurance. It’s important to know the FCO cannot help fund medical bills if you or a family member are taken ill or hospitalised when abroad. Make sure you take out a travel insurance policy that meets your personal needs so you know you are covered should anything happen, and you can focus on having a relaxing holiday.”
ABTA also noted a number of high profile incidents that received media attention in the last year, including an uninsured Welsh holidaymaker who died in Dubai and whose family were left with a bill of £30,000; and an insured woman who failed to disclose a pre-existing medical condition before a trip and was subsequently left with a bill of £300,000 for medical treatment in Mexico.
It is a shame to fall back on scare stories such as these – especially as, in the minds of consumers, anecdotes like the second one paint the travel insurance industry in a negative light, despite the fact that it is merely an instance of the customer not holding up their end of the bargain. However, sometimes shock tactics are the only way to get through to people, and considering that this is the second time in as many days that ITIJ has reported on Brits’ somewhat lax attitude towards insurance, maybe such strategies are necessary.