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Travel insurance: what’s covered when you’re abroad?

In 2017, ABTA Holiday Habits revealed that the number of people going abroad on holiday had reached a peak of 57% from 55%. Travelling is becoming more and more mainstream, so it’s important to know how to deal with issues that may arise when you are abroad. No one wants to get sick or injured when on holiday, but sadly, it can happen. True Solicitors, who offer expert accident at work solicitor services, take a look at what your insurance covers abroad, and what can put the validity of your claim at risk.

Do people take out insurance before jetting off?

ABTA noted that 25% of holiday-goers weren’t insured in the 12 months’ run-up to May 2017. This shows a rise of 3% from May 2016. However, this differed between age ranges but was commonly problematic among young people travelling abroad.

In the 18-24 age bracket, data from May 2016 revealed 31% were not insured for their trip away. This figure increased by 9% in the following year. 25-34-year-olds were also guilty of this risky move, with 31% of jet-setters not insured in 2016 — growing to 38% in 2017.

In fact, the only improvement came from 35-44-year-olds, who saw less people travelling without insurance from 2016 to 2017. However, this drop was marginal, down to 25% from 26%. For people aged 45-54, 20% of travelers weren’t insured for their trip in 2016, a figure that grew by 3% in 2017. Those aged 55 and over remained the same over the two years, with just 14% not taking out insurance before their trip.

The reason seems to be that most people don’t think they need insurance (36%). Although refusing to buy insurance will have short-term financial benefits, the savings made don’t compare to the detrimental financial situation you could be in if something was to go wrong abroad. Despite this, 22% said that it was a risk they were willing to take.

On top of this, many people incorrectly believe that a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will cover them when travelling to Europe, and therefore they don’t need insurance. However, this is not the case, as EHIC is only valid for medical necessities within the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA) in state hospitals. It has been advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that all people wishing to travel outside of their country should also have comprehensive travel insurance as this will likely cover repatriation in the case of a medical emergency.

In the wake of the Brexit vote, it is not clear what impact this will have on the EHIC. What we do know is that those who are officially living abroad — whether this is to work or study on the day the UK officially leaves the EU — their card will continue to prove eligibility for the same state-funded healthcare as the citizens of the country receive.

Travel insurance: what to look out for

Travel insurance is to protect you against any unseen events that develop before or after you reach your destination. It’s important that you purchase your insurance as soon as you book your holiday, as it can cover potential cancellations and pre-trip illnesses — it’s a small financial decision that can save you a fortune in the long run.

Check over the policies of any travel insurance you buy, as coverage levels differ between providers. It is unlikely that they will cover high-risk activities. It’s important to consider what type of holiday you’re going on — if it’s active like skiing, you must inform your insurer to get the best cover.

Don’t neglect to check the small print too. For example, if you’ve consumed alcohol and need medical attention some insurance companies will reject your claim — in extreme cases, they could seek out court rulings and will supply the court with medical records that say you had alcohol in your blood. It’s important to remember that in hot countries, your body will absorb alcohol more easily too.

Remember as well that in the event of theft abroad, you need to have evidence and proof that can support you claims.

Also note that if your travel insurance provider should go out of business, your cover will be void too. However, when it comes to the airline going out of business, you may be covered but could be required to pay an extra premium.

Insurance companies can only waive the decision of cover in the event of terrorism or natural disasters like tsunamis or earthquakes in exceptional circumstances.

Most common holiday injuries

Studies show that natural circumstances, such as heart attacks, are the cause of around 74-80% of deaths abroad. However, the same source found that 18-24% occur due to accidents and 2% from infectious diseases. Two thirds of holidaymakers worry about getting sick when they’re away, but it’s inevitable when results show that one in 20 trips can include sickness or injury.

In terms of injuries, trip, slips, and falls make up some of the more common causes of injuries abroad. This is often caused by ill-maintained floors or uneven carpets. Take note of signs to ensure you’re not at risk of injury through slippery or uneven floors.

Another potential pitfall comes from the difference in driving — as we drive on the other side of the road in the UK, sometimes roads abroad can be troublesome. You might be trying to follow directions or the GPS on your phone — but you must stay alert and not get distracted to avoid any type of road traffic accident.

You shouldn’t feel deterred from taking part in any sporting events on holiday from fear of injury. But, if you have concerns, you must ask the organisers as high risk activities can invalidate any insurance policies if you’re not properly protected.

The average cost of such injuries can be steep though, at around £914. However, for 65-74-year olds, this cost increases to £971.63. One example provided by the FCO stated that one stomach bug infection that was treated in a Californian hospital cost £100,000, including return flights back home.

If you travel without insurance, you need to pay for your medical bills out of the country, a fact that 48% of people didn’t realise. 78% said that they wouldn’t be able to pay just £10,000 to cover the costs that could present themselves.

If you plan to travel overseas, it’s critical that you look into the right insurance cover and understand what that policy provides cover for. With Brexit just around the corner, and the fate of the EHIC unknown, will we see an increase in the number of people taking out insurance?