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Taking a staycation? Don’t risk a travel insurance nightmare

The Isle of SkyeStaycations might seem like hassle-free holidays but forgetting to cover yourself and your valuables could land you with hefty bills. See what the experts say about travel insurance.

Financial worries, a weak pound, and a trend towards domestic breaks meant “staycation” became one of the buzz words of the recession, used to describe a holiday in the UK.

It might conjure up images of a rainy fortnight in a caravan in Devon but shunning foreign destinations in favour of something closer to home is likely to save you a few quid.

Aside from the financial benefits, it usually means no long journeys and, many of us believe, no need for travel insurance. But is this correct?

What if something goes wrong?

When it comes to holidaying in the UK most people would assume that travel insurance is unnecessary.

But will the NHS cover you if you’re injured? And will your home insurance protect your possessions if they’re stolen?

Take the case of 75-year-old Brian Daniel for example. He booked a coach holiday to Scotland as an alternative to a foreign holiday this year.

The coach trip was a good deal, saving money on flights and the usual charges associated with a trip overseas.

But when it came to travel insurance he was stumped. The coach company insisted he take out a policy, but he didn’t see the point.

“I couldn’t see why I needed it but their argument was that it would cover us if we had an accident,” said Mr Daniel.

“At our age travel insurance costs are very high, so I thought, if we’re ill then we’ve got the NHS, and if we lose something I’ll claim it on my away-from-home cover. They weren’t too happy but I decided to risk it.”

Other risks

Although this could be seen as common sense, avoiding doubling up on some insurance benefits, there are other risks to be aware of.

Hatts Coaches, a Wiltshire based tour operator specialising in UK breaks, said that although travel insurance is not a requirement it is “certainly advised”.

“We can’t cover customers for cancellation due to ill health, and the NHS and home insurance will only go so far,” said a Hatts representative.

“We do have our own liability as a company if things go wrong but it’s not personal insurance so it won’t cover an individual like travel insurance would.”

Adequate cover

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) warns travellers to make sure they’re adequately covered should they choose to shun travel insurance.

Spokesman Malcolm Tarling said: “It’s seriously important that people make sure that, even when holidaying in UK, they are adequately covered. They may not need travel insurance as health is looked after by the NHS, but they should make sure that possessions are protected against theft, loss or damage.

“If they have contents insurance, then they should make sure that this covers possessions while away from the home. And check any single item limits that may apply, especially if you have jewellery and potentially expensive items like cameras.”

 The ABI also advises that it may be worth taking out cancellation insurance and BIBA recommends that personal injury and travel delay benefits will help an unfortunate traveller.

What about flights?

When it comes to domestic flights, travellers are in the same boat as foreign trippers, which means you’re at the mercy of the airline. So, with or without travel insurance, unless you have scheduled airline failure cover, if your airline goes bust and you booked directly with them then you won’t be covered.

But insurance with cancellation cover will allow you to claim your money back if the flight fails to take off and you could be compensated for delays: something you’d have to live with without insurance.

Take care on the Channel Islands

You might assume that the Channel Islands fall under the umbrella of the UK but the rules surrounding health care changed back in 2009, leaving thousands of holidaymakers wide open to hefty medical bills.

British tourists were always charged for some services on the Channel Islands. On Guernsey and Alderney, charges applied for prescribed medicines, A&E hospital treatment, emergency dental treatment, GP and other medical care, and ambulance travel. On Jersey travellers were charged for GP treatment, dental care and prescribed medicines and on Sark, for all medical treatment.

However, since 1 April 2009 tourists have had to cover their own medical costs in all cases. Even the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic), which entitles residents of EU member states to free and cut-price health care in other EU countries, doesn’t apply, so travel insurance is a must if you want to avoid a medical bill in these destinations.

Do you take out travel insurance for a staycation? Is it necessary or a waste of money? Let me know lois.avery@confused.com or tweet me @confusedlois




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Lois Avery

Lois Avery

Lois joined Confused.com in 2010 after working for Dyson and as a local newspaper reporter in Wiltshire. After a year writing financial journalism at Confused.com, Lois won the 2011 'most promising newcomer' at the BIBA journalist of the year awards.

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