According to data from ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents, 20% of Brits travel without insurance. This isn’t just because people are trying to cut costs, although this is part of the issue. But one of the main problems is lack of understanding. Many people believe the government, through the Foreign Office and NHS, will come to the rescue and the hospital and treatment costs will be covered.
The European Heath Insurance Card does offer some assistance it’s true; for example if you break your arm in Austria you can walk into a state-run hospital and have the treatment covered by the NHS in the UK. However, this card is only a fall back offering only a basic level of cover for hospital treatment. It does not cover repatriation costs, baggage, theft, or cancellation and it definitely does not cover the costs associated with being airlifted to hospital after breaking your leg on the ski slopes.
There is no reciprocal health agreement in place for the US, the land of extortionately priced medical treatment. Even simple treatment in America can spiral into the thousands and again, without insurance you won’t have any cover against loss of luggage, money or other property and you’ll get nothing if your holiday is cancelled.
Some countries don’t have health centres of the same standard as we have become used to in the UK. This could mean you end up having sub-level treatment because you can’t afford to make it to the nearest international-standard facility on your own back, or – and we aren’t sure which is worse – you get flown to a hospital that is of a high standard but that might be several hour’s away. This transportation will be incredibly costly, even in a developing nation.
The risks of travelling without insurance, especially outside of Europe and/or on a winter sport holiday simply aren’t worth taking. Insurance doesn’t need to be expensive. You can get simple single-trip cover or if you like to go on holiday regularly, an annual multi-trip policy will be more appropriate. Costs are relatively low, with some policies available for just a few Pounds a day.
There are other ways to save money too. With Santander’s travel insurance you’ll get 25% off just for applying online and you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win £1,000 of lastminute.com vouchers. Maybe an annual trip policy is better after all.