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Travellers urged to pack a policy

An aeroplane takes off into the sunset13/06/13

By Will Roberts

Holidaymakers are putting their finances at risk by not taking out travel insurance before their break, according to a new campaign.

The 'Know Before You Go' scheme has launched as figures suggest that almost a quarter of Britons head abroad without any insurance, despite illness or injury fairly common on holidays.

The campaign has been launched by ABTA and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which are urging those travelling outside of the UK to "pack their policy" this summer.

Figures show that 1 in 5 people in the UK have visited a doctor or hospital abroad. Some 47 per cent think it would cost £5,000 or less to treat a broken leg in the USA when the actual cost is somewhere in the region of £40,000. It is thought that it is this lack of knowledge of the true cost of medical treatment abroad is the reason for so many people not taking out insurance.

Young travellers are the most likely to travel unprotected, with 48 per cent not taking out insurance. To make matters worse, FCO research shows that 82 per cent of young people take part in one or more adventurous, and potentially dangerous, activity on holiday, but only 45 per cent will check their insurance covers such pursuits.

Statistics also show a lack of education about the importance of travel insurance, with 16 per cent believing that the UK Government would pay for foreign medical treatment. The role of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) also causes some confusion, with 17 per cent of travellers and 33 per cent of 15-24 year-olds erroneously believing that it will cover any medical costs. The reality is that it only provides access to basic state medical care and does not cover things like repatriation to the UK. An air ambulance from a popular destination can cost as much as £16,000.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive said: "With the peak holiday season coming up and British tourists heading abroad, we urge holidaymakers to think about travel insurance and to pack their policy. Unfortunately, accidents can and do happen and sometimes these accidents can lead to costly medical bills. It is just not worth taking the risk, when an average annual travel insurance policy costs less than £25."

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