The Risks of Travelling Without Insurance
Earlier this year, a survey by ABTA – The Travel association revealed that 20 per cent of British travellers do not take out insurance before jetting off, meaning they could be landed with big bills if anything were to go wrong.
The failure to seek out travel medical insurance may be in part due to the fact that many Brits do not think they need it. Some travellers think that possessing a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provides enough coverage for trips to countries on the continent. Some 17 per cent of the survey’s respondents held this view, but in fact it only gives access to basic state medical care. Furthermore, this insurance does not cover repatriation costs if a tourist needs to be flown back to the UK.
Daredevil Brits who book a trip without a second thought for travel insurance could find themselves severely out of pocket in an emergency. If the situation is serious enough for the patient to need to return to the UK, without the appropriate travel insurance, it could cost thousands.
Repatriation is not only required in emergency situations, but in less severe, more common cases. For example, airlines may not be able to accommodate passengers with a broken leg, meaning they have to pay for the extra room required. Other services often covered by insurers but not the EHIC include telling you where the nearest health facility is, translator services and English doctors for a telephone consultation.
Lynda St Cooke from the Foreign Office’s Know Before You Go campaign explained the government will not necessarily pay for British citizens in an emergency.
“If British travellers get into difficulties overseas, there are things the nearest British Embassy or Consulate can do, including contacting friends and family for them, and giving them information on how to safely transfer money from the UK,” she said.
“But consular staff cannot pay hospital bills for British travellers, nor fly them home if they run out of holiday money.”
ABTA’s head of financial protection advised that holidaymakers purchase a policy alongside the rest of their holiday. They should go for one that includes cancellation cover for redundancy as well as any potential illness prior to the trip.