Hol­i­day­mak­ers urged to take out travel cover for their trips

Fig­ures show al­most 40% do not book in­sur­ance

The Herald - - BUSINESS - ALEX MOR­GAN

TWO-THIRDS of Bri­tish adults plan to go abroad in 2017 and more book hol­i­days at this time of year than any other, but many leave them­selves open to fi­nan­cial dis­as­ter by fail­ing to ar­range travel cover at the same time.

While Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary are peak months for last-minute win­ter sun and snow sports breaks, travel in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion ABTA said a third of all sum­mer hol­i­days are also pur­chased at this time of year.

Ac­cord­ing to Sains­bury’s Bank, around 34 mil­lion peo­ple aim to travel over­seas this year, but al­most 40 per cent will not take out in­sur­ance when they should.

Thir­teen per cent will buy it with more than a week to go un­til de­par­ture, six per cent will wait un­til the last week, and a fur­ther one per cent will do it the day they leave. A fur­ther 18 per cent – al­most one in five – will not take cover at all.

Alan San­der­son, head of in­sur­ance at Sains­bury’s Bank, said: “Whilst lots of hol­i­day­mak­ers are early book­ers who like to plan ahead so they have some­thing to look for­ward to, our re­search shows that many don’t pay the same at­ten­tion when it comes to travel in­sur­ance.”

The bank cal­cu­lated that hol­i­day­mak­ers forced to change their plans due to an un­ex­pected ill­ness or in­ci­dent would face an av­er­age can­cel­la­tion cost of £816 per per­son.

Many peo­ple as­sume in­sur­ance is not nec­es­sary if they have a Euro­pean Health In­sur­ance Card (EHIC), but this pro­vides only lim­ited med­i­cal ben­e­fits within a de­fined area and gives no pro­tec­tion for oc­cur­rences such as can­cel­la­tion, de­lay or bag­gage loss.

The EHIC cov­ers Euro­pean Eco­nomic Area coun­tries, in­clud­ing all 27 mem­bers of the EU, Switzer­land, Ice­land, Nor­way and Liecht­en­stein, but it is not ac­cepted else­where.

Within these coun­tries, it en­ti­tles the bearer to the same level of state med­i­cal care pro­vided to el­i­gi­ble na­tion­als. How­ever, state care varies dra­mat­i­cally and few coun­tries cover the full price of treat­ment.

For ex­am­ple, in France pa­tients may have to pay for a con­sul­ta­tion with a doc­tor with up to 70 per cent of the bill re­im­bursed later. They may also have to con­trib­ute to­wards the cost of stay­ing in hospi­tal overnight.

The EHIC pro­vides no cover for moun­tain res­cue or med­i­cal repa­tri­a­tion and there is no guar­an­tee of be­ing taken to a state fa­cil­ity, as many hos­pi­tals and clin­ics in ski re­sorts are pri­vate, where the EHIC may not be ac­cepted at all.

This means that fail­ing to com­ple­ment it with ap­pro­pri­ate in­sur­ance can be ex­tremely costly. In 2015, UK in­sur­ance as­so­ci­a­tion the ABI paid out £1 mil­lion a day to travel pol­i­cy­hold­ers who had been billed for med­i­cal costs. The av­er­age claim was £1,200 but some ac­ci­dents – par­tic­u­larly those in­volv­ing win­ter sports – cost a lot more.

Ac­cord­ing to the ABI, a skier who suf­fered se­ri­ous bruis­ing when he was hit by a snow­board in France was charged £5,425 af­ter be­ing evac­u­ated from the moun­tain by he­li­copter.

An­other skier air­lifted to a French re­sort clinic and later trans­ferred to a big­ger hospi­tal af­ter a spinal in­jury was charged £8,978 for trans­port, while a woman who tore her an­te­rior and in­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ments ski­ing in Aus­tria had to pay £9,439 for surgery to re­pair them.

‘‘ In­surer Aviva puts the av­er­age cost of treat­ing spinal cord in­jury abroad at up­wards of £31,000

Mean­while, in­surer Aviva put the av­er­age cost of treat­ing spinal cord in­jury abroad at up­wards of £31,000, knee dam­age at £24,000, a dis­lo­cated an­kle at £22,000 and a leg frac­ture at £16,000.

Alex Ed­wards, travel in­sur­ance spokesman at Go­com­pare.com, said: “Skiers and snow­board­ers, and even those who are just go­ing along for the trip, should al­ways ar­range suit­able travel in­sur­ance to en­sure they’re pro­tected for med­i­cal treat­ment and med­i­cal repa­tri­a­tion if nec­es­sary.

“Other ad­van­tages of hav­ing proper win­ter sports cover in­clude pro­tec­tion against los­ing your skis, your lift pass and other equip­ment, and some even of­fer com­pen­sa­tion if there’s no snow in your re­sort.”

Do not sim­ply take the pol­icy of­fered by your travel agent or bank, though, as you could end up over­pay­ing. Sin­gle trip cover for two skiers is avail­able from as lit­tle as £13 if you shop around on price com­par­i­son sites.

Money­Su­per­Mar­ket rec­om­mends hav­ing at least £2m of med­i­cal cover (£3-4m if go­ing to the US) to pay for moun­tain res­cue, pro­longed treat­ment or repa­tri­a­tion by air.

It also ad­vises hav­ing £1m of per­sonal li­a­bil­ity pro­tec­tion to cover against be­ing sued af­ter an ac­ci­dent, can­cel­la­tion cover for the to­tal cost of each per­son’s hol­i­day plus pre-paid ac­tiv­i­ties and ex­cur­sions, enough bag­gage cover to re­place ev­ery­thing be­ing taken, and at least £250 for the theft of cash.

Com­pen­sa­tion for sched­uled air­line and end-sup­plier fail­ure is also de­sir­able, as is pay­ment for de­lays. And, to en­sure claim­ing does not be­come too ex­pen­sive, hol­i­day­mak­ers should aim for an ex­cess of £100 or less.

Most sin­gle-trip poli­cies do not in­clude win­ter sports as stan­dard so any­one plan­ning to ski or snow­board will need to add this or buy a ded­i­cated win­ter sports pol­icy.

RISK: Those head­ing for the slopes will need to add win­ter sports to their pol­icy or buy a spe­cific win­ter sports pol­icy. Pic­ture: Shutterstock

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