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Why wouldn’t you take out travel insurance?

A world taveller's suitcaseMore and more holidaymakers are failing to buy travel insurance. But why wouldn’t someone take out cover?

A quarter of those who took a holiday abroad in 2012 didn’t have travel insurance according to research published recently by ABTA, the travel agents’ organisation.

This figure is up a fifth on the previous year, a significant rise.

Male travellers are 8 per cent less likely to buy travel insurance than females. And younger holidaymakers are the least likely to take out cover by far.

Of those foreign travellers aged between 15 and 24, almost half (48 per cent) will do it without taking out insurance.

Treat travel insurance as mandatory

Although travel insurance isn’t mandatory, has always adopted the position that it should be treated as such.

Yet it’s still treated by many as an optional purchase, which can be sacrificed if needs be.

But why wouldn’t consumers buy it? The research by ABTA sought to find out.

‘Travel insurance is too expensive’

Almost a third of those polled by ABTA claimed that they didn’t take out travel insurance because it’s too expensive. This 2012 figure is up by 50 per cent on the previous year.

Mhairi Duffin, head of travel insurance at, said: “It’s understandable that, as households continue to feel the squeeze, they’re less willing to spend on commodities they feel are inessential.

“However, viewing travel insurance in this way is a false economy.

“It’s possible to pick up a fairly comprehensive annual policy for upwards of £15*, or £28** for a family.

“Now, if you were considering dropping travel insurance, you should first ask yourself how easily you could afford to replace a camera or handbag if they were lost or stolen while on your trip.

“But that’s not the real issue. The important question to ask is: could you afford to pay for it if you were injured or fell ill abroad?

“If you or a member of your family had to be hospitalised abroad, for whatever reason, the bills could potentially run into the millions. That’s what people should be insuring against.”

‘The government will sort me out’

According to ABTA’s research, 16 per cent of consumers are under the misapprehension that the UK government will foot the bill if they require treatment abroad.

Duffin said: “I really don’t know why anyone would think this. If anyone falls ill or becomes injured while travelling abroad, the responsibility for getting their treatment paid for ultimately falls to them.”

‘It’s covered by my EHIC’

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which replaced the old E111, can provide the holder with first-line emergency treatment in EU countries – plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. But 17 per cent of consumers believe that this removes the need for travel insurance.

“The EHIC – though potentially useful – is no replacement for proper cover,” said Duffin.

“Firstly, it only covers you for basic medical care that’s state provided. This won’t cover you for private health care. Plus, the exact level of care that this provides varies between participating countries.

“And it never covers you for repatriation to the UK. So if you need to be flown home, or perhaps taken somewhere in an air ambulance, that’s coming out of your own pocket.

“On the other hand, even the most basic, no-frills travel insurance policy will more often cover repatriation than not.”

Are you surprised by the number of UK travellers who holiday abroad uninsured? Are you one of those travellers? Have you learned the hard way why it’s best to be insured while on holiday? Whatever your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to comment below.

*The cheapest annual policy is £14.46, based on 1 adult aged 28 travelling in Europe.
**The cheapest family single-trip policy is £27.15, based on 2 adults aged 30, and 2 children aged 2 and 4, travelling in Europe for up to 5 days.
Prices correct on 22 March 2013.

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Owe Carter

Owe Carter

Owe Carter is a content producer who's worked for since 2007. He's the author of our Carless Cities report. Twitter: @ConfusedOwe View more from Owe

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