Why bother with travel insurance?

You’ve saved up for your trip, treated yourself to a few extras for your holiday wardrobe and planned a jam-packed itinerary – and at the last minute someone reminds you about travel insurance. Is it really necessary? Young travellers seem to think not: 42 per cent consider it too expensive so decide to wing it… Here are four common misconceptions about travel insurance.

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‘As long as I’ve got my EHIC, I’m medically covered.’ This depends rather on where you are and what kind of medical treatment you need. A European Health Insurance Card is incredibly useful if you are healthy and travelling in Europe without kids, staying in cities and not doing adventurous sports. Of course, you don’t get the other cover that a travel insurance policy offers: lost or stolen baggage, cancelled flights, personal liability, etc. You also need to be aware that all health care in that country may not be free; for example, in many countries you will have to pay for a ride in an ambulance. Finally, the EHIC is only valid when in Europe – don’t be one of the thousands of travellers who are surprised by its geographical limitations.

‘Medical bills aren’t that expensive.’ Living with the NHS on standby for when we need it, we have very little concept of how much health care costs – but those who have had an accident on holiday, even a minor one, know how quickly the bill adds up. A recent survey reveals that the average medical claim while abroad is £1,088 and the country where most Brits make claims is Spain. Needing medical help in the US is the costliest of all, with the average claim in the past year coming in at £2,851 and returning to the UK from the Canaries in an air ambulance will set you back some £12,000. Do you really want to take that risk?

‘If I can’t pay, the British government will pick up the bill.’ With 16 per cent of under 24s assuming that the government will pay for their medical treatment if they become ill abroad and have no insurance, it is no wonder the FCO are at pains to point out they will, in fact, not.

‘There’s no point in having travel insurance for a UK holiday.’ It is not all about health. While you won’t need insurance if you are taken ill on a holiday in the UK, what happens should you fall ill beforehand and need to cancel? Or your luggage disappears somewhere between Luton and Glasgow?

No one wants to dwell on what might happen while you are away, but don’t let niggling concerns intrude on your holiday: arrange that peace of mind that comes with an insurance policy and get on with enjoying yourself.

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