Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

Holidaymakers should book travel insurance to avoid 'financial ruin'

Holidaymakers should book travel insurance to avoid 'financial ruin'
Matt Browning
Written By:
Matt Browning

Holidaymakers must take out travel insurance once they book their trip away to avoid "the risk of financial ruin", a trade body warns.

Securing the travel insurance early means travellers will still be covered for unforeseen circumstances like having an illness, which could curtail a trip abroad.

This is imperative for skiing or particularly active holidays, where an injury requiring an air ambulance to transport you could be on the cards.

The costs of being flown via an air ambulance after an accident have more than doubled since 2019, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) finds.

Just in the UK, Wiltshire Air Ambulance announced its costs to run operations shot up by 11% to a total of £4.5m per year, due to the cost-of-living crisis, the rising price of fuel and utility bills.

When travellers have fallen ill or had a serious accident and needed a flight from a European country to the UK, they’ve paid an average of between €25,000 and €35,000. That figure was between €15,000 and €20,000 in 2019.

General Health Insurance Card does not cover all medical costs

Even with a General Health Insurance Card, which allows state medical care in EU nations, not all of the services like air ambulance and some medical costs are covered. The UK Government is also not obliged to cover those costs either.

Once you go further afield, the long-haul flight costs skyrocket, potentially setting you back £80,000 for trips outside the EU. But, with a comprehensive travel insurance policy, those outlays would be covered.

You should check if your activities – like winter sports – are included in the policy too before booking, as well as declaring any pre-existing medical conditions when applying for the cover. Despite the final lockdown rules in the UK ending in July 2021, cover for Covid-19 remains an important addition to many travellers too.

Graeme Buck, ABTA’s director of communications, says the “risk of financial ruin”, is not worth it just to save “a few pounds” and urged holidaymakers to book their policies as early as possible.

‘Medical costs have gone through the roof’

Buck said: “Every year, we see very sad stories of uninsured people who have fallen ill or had an accident whilst overseas and are running up large medical bills.

“They often resort to setting up a Go Fund Me page or similar, but they will now find they need to raise substantially more money, with air ambulance and other medical costs having gone through the roof.”

Jennifer Anderson, director for consular and crisis, foreign, Commonwealth and development office, added: “Travelling without insurance can be expensive and distressing if things do go wrong when you are abroad.

“The good news is that purchasing the right travel insurance does not take long and could save you a lot of money and stress.”