A good number of holidaymakers find out to their cost each year that travel insurance shouldn’t be just an afterthought.
This is particularly the case when it comes to the health element of cover, as many believe that having a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) means they won’t have to shell out for medical bills and health emergencies.
Many leave without insurance, assuming all will be fine. But if something does go wrong, the financial impact has the potential to be ruinous.
EHIC versus travel cover
While it’s true that the EHIC provides reasonable cover for ill-health within EU countries, there are still plenty of things it won’t cover. Crucially, this includes extra-accommodation for a longer stay than anticipated, or repatriation costs if medical assistance to get home is required.
Bear in mind that an air ambulance taking someone with a serious spinal injury back to the UK from Spain can cost £20,000 or more, for example. Even a normal ambulance ride to a hospital from the scene of a car crash might not be covered by the EHIC and may have to be paid for.
Common holiday health problems and costs
In fact, if you’re wavering over whether to take out travel cover, it’s worth considering just how much some fairly common medical situations experienced by Brits abroad every year can cost.
Figures from the Foreign Office suggest a serious stomach bug or infection that requires hospitalisation in the United States would cost a whacking great £100,000, with return flights
A moped accident in Greece, requiring surgery and repatriation to the UK could set you back £25,000.
And a nasty fall in Spain, leading to a broken hip, hospital treatment and flights home, £15,000.
While having an EHIC would at least mean some of the cost could be recovered in the Greek and Spanish examples, it’s easy to see how potentially financially calamitous it can be not to have cover. However, a decent travel insurance policy should mean that all the costs involved in the Foreign Office’s examples would be covered.
Emergency holiday cancellation
Another good reason for having travel cover is the relatively common experience of holiday cancellation due to personal issues, such as the death of a relative, or illness.
Re-imbursement for flights, trains, pre-paid accommodation and other holiday expenses would be standard with most policies.
Similarly, recent years have seen plenty of delays for British holidaymakers caused by bad weather and strike action abroad.
A couple of years ago, industrial action by French air-traffic controllers brought most of Western Europe’s aircraft to a standstill. Many travellers then, unexpectedly, had to shell out hundreds or even thousands of pounds on additional accommodation and short-notice alternative transport.
As with holiday cancellations, those with travel cover would have been able to claim the additional expense back, while anyone without it wouldn’t.
Don’t think twice
It all goes to show that if you’re uncertain whether to take out travel cover or not, you shouldn’t really think twice.
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Published 1 March 2018