Tickets, money, passport – and travel cover
Holidaymakers are failing to insure themselves when they go abroad, which could turn a dream trip into a nightmare. Chiara Cavaglieri reports
Sunday 16 January 2011
If the sight of aluminium-coloured skies on the walk to work is driving you to dream of sunnier climes, rest assured, you are not alone.
More than seven million Britons are expected to book their summer holiday getaways in the coming weeks – representing more than a 10th of the UK's entire population.
But while foreign holidays have become more affordable, many travellers are neglecting to insure themselves adequately, if at all.
New research by travel insurance provider AXA estimates that as many as nine in 10 holidaymakers will be uninsured or wrongly insured this year, leaving them at risk of a potential collective bill it calculates at £130m.
Findings from the research show that nearly one in three travellers do not take out any insurance, with a quarter of this number saying they "don't need it" and 21 per cent labelling it a "waste of money". Meanwhile, 35 per cent of those that do buy insurance leave it until the last minute, risking missing out on cancellation cover, if for example, a family member falls ill, or an airline goes on strike.
While package holidays come under the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (Atol) and Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) protection, those who book flights and accommodation separately have no such cover. This means that if an airline goes under, a claim may be made only for flights, but not for any money lost on accommodation.
For those who want peace of mind when travelling abroad, a wide variety of insurance products are available to choose from, making it essential to identify which type of insurance best suits their individual needs.
Types of travel insurance
Travel insurance is usually sold as either a single trip or annual/multi-trip policy, although backpackers and other travellers can also take out long-stay insurance if they want continuous cover for anywhere between three and 18 months.
You can tailor policies to suit your specific needs and cut costs. If you have home contents insurance, for example, you may already have protection in place for your personal belongings abroad and can remove baggage cover for a discounted premium. Equally, you can customise your policy by adding top-up cover often relatively cheaply if you want extra protection for personal accidents, particular sports such as skiing, or your airline going bankrupt before or during your trip.
"Extra cover for winter sports, personal documents, flight cancellation, specialist equipment like golf clubs and weddings can commonly be added to travel insurance policies for an additional fee," says Joanne Garcia, the head of financial services at consumer website Confused.com.
"For example, adding golf club cover to a week's insurance policy with Greatcover.com for a single adult in Europe would be about £10 and winter sports about £12."
Covering travel disruption
Since the media backlash last year when some insurance providers refused to pay out on travel claims related to the volcanic ash debacle, many policies now offer cover for disruption caused by natural disasters and unexpected meteorological events.
Aviva, for example, has an add-on protection if your travel plans are affected by UK airspace or airport closure. The feature costs an extra £10 per person for annual insurance and provides cover for up to £5,000 if you are unable to take your holiday because airspace or an airport is closed for more than 24 hours. Claimants will also receive £100 for every 24-hour delay to returning home and up to £1,000 for expenses incurred making alternative arrangements to get home.
If you are travelling to more dangerous destinations, it may be worth considering more unusual insurance. Multinational companies often take out kidnap, ransom and extortion (KRE) insurance to protect their employees in high-risk countries such as Pakistan, Mexico and Nigeria.
Specialist policies also exist for families, those with pre-existing medical conditions, people aged over 65 as well as the standard comprehensive cover which protects for medical costs, cancellation and curtailment of your holiday, lost or stolen baggage and personal liability, in case you're sued.
Insurer Sheila's Wheels offers travel insurance just for women, which includes an excess waiver if your bag is snatched, as well as optional wedding cover costing an extra £30 per couple to cover theft of wedding rings up to £500, gifts up to £1,000, outfits up to £1,500 and photographs and videos up to £750. As an added benefit, six children up to age 16, or 22 if in full-time education, can be added to the policy for free.
Whatever level of cover you decide to go for, however, it is vital to read all the policy exclusions and excesses. This is time consuming but essential if you want to avoid handing over your money for an inadequate or inappropriate policy. Typical drawbacks to look out for are low levels of cover and high excesses, particularly on cheaper policies. "Some providers will offer two different levels of cover with different premiums, but you may find that the only difference is the level of excess that is paid on each," says Andrew Hagger, an analyst at Moneynet.co.uk.
Many policies will exclude cover for cash claims and insist on written police reports for theft of goods or claims of violent assault. Some will make deductions for wear and tear on baggage claims, rather than offering "new for old" cover. And don't bank on your insurer paying out if you get stuck in a traffic jam or your car breaks down on the way to the airport – many providers will cover only proven public transport delays.
With all this to worry about, it is perhaps understandable that so many of us risk travelling without insurance altogether. AXA's own research shows that the claims rate for travel insurance is only 5 per cent, which raises the question of whether enough people benefit from it to make it worthwhile.
The biggest danger when travelling without insurance is that you might have a medical emergency, particularly in countries such as the US where treatment and repatriation costs can be sky high. Last year, for example, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) reported a £49,000 claim to cover the cost of a coronary artery bypass and an emergency flight home for a holidaymaker taken ill in the US.
Many Britons holidaying in Europe believe that an EHIC card negates the need for travel insurance. However, this card entitles you only to state-provided emergency medical treatment in EEA countries and will not cover rescue services, private hospital treatment, additional travel costs or repatriation costs to get you back to Britain.
Andrew Hagger, Moneynet.co.uk
Some people may question whether it's worth paying £10 or £20 for travel insurance. But, if you were to become ill while away and require medical treatment, or if you were to have to cancel or cut short your holiday, that £10 or £20 could be recouped at least 50 times over. It's useful to be able to customise your policy so as to pay only for the cover you need. A middle-aged couple off cruising for a couple of weeks will have lots of expensive clothes, jewellery, etc, whereas a teenager going to Corfu for a week might have a beach towel, pair of shorts and flip flops, so baggage is perhaps not really worth it for the latter.
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 5 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn voters most likely to believe 'world is controlled by a secretive elite'
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Day In a Page
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.