A family holiday should be a highlight of the year, however it can become a nightmare situation if something goes wrong and there isn’t any protection in place. Travel insurance provides vital peace of mind for you and your family, in case the unpredictable occurs. However, in 2016-17 a quarter of holidaymakers risked travelling without suitable insurance,
Here is our quick guide to get you up to speed on all you need to know so that you can make the most of your trip.
Make sure you have holiday insurance
Although it is not mandatory taking out travel insurance should be a priority as without it you may find you are on your own and problems may only get worse. Travel insurance should keep you and your family safe in case of any number of incidents including: needing to cancel or cut a trip short due to reasons that are out of your control, transport delays or cancellation and lost or damaged items.
Perhaps more crucially, travel insurance provides protection for medical situations, for example what would happen if you became ill whilst abroad and needed medical treatment? If you have taken out travel insurance beforehand, you should be covered for most medical incidents and their consequences. Travel insurance also provides ‘personal liability’ cover, if you are liable to pay damages should you injure someone else.
There can be severe financial consequences for failing to take out travel insurance. Measuring the cost of an average annual travel insurance policy at £37 against the average medical claim of £1,300 or the average cancellation claim of £816, it is clear that there is much more to lose if you choose to travel without sufficient insurance.
What sort of holiday insurance?
Travel insurance is widely available and can be purchased from insurance companies, banks, retailers and online comparison sites but there are hundreds of travel insurance policies out there, as a quick internet search will illustrate. So, how do you pick the correct one for you?
Although it may be tempting to choose the cheapest policy, it is likely that the price reflects the cover provided. Before taking anything out its worth spending some time researching which policy is best for you and your family. This is one of those occasions when it really pays to read the small print. In most cases what cover is provided and any restrictions on it should be in plain English and you might worry about any policy where it all looks overly complicated or you just can’t ‘get’ what they are really offering.
There are comparison sites that have quick and easy charts setting out what is available but key things you will want to look for include medical expenses (how much is the total cover and does it cover the countries you are to visit?), a reparation service (to get you back home after an accident), cancellation, delay or missed departure, baggage cover and personal liability cover. Polices can vary depending on how many people are being covered, where you are going, how often you go, how long you go for and whether any adventurous sports are planned.
To receive full cover, you must declare any prior medical conditions.
What happens if you don’t have holiday insurance?
If you do not take out travel insurance and are unlucky enough to be taken into hospital, you will be solely responsible for the costs incurred. In the UK, access to the NHS means that we are often unaware of the true costs of medical treatment. However, abroad (particularly outside the EU) it is not uncommon for medical bills to run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. This is without the inclusion of additional costs, such as transport home.
A common misconception when travelling in Europe is that the EHIC card acts as a replacement to travel insurance. An EHIC card grants individuals the same access to medical facilities as locals, however this does not mean that the treatment is of the same standard as at home and this does not include additional costs (such as transportation fees) and you may have to pay up front and recover the money when you get home (for now but subject to Brexit).
To put the cost of medical bills into perspective, recent figures estimate that it would cost £15,000 to pay for the treatment of a broken hip in Spain and return flights. Treatment for a stomach infection in California and flights home could cost £100,000.
What can you do if you have an accident abroad?
Unfortunately accidents do occur. However, there are actions that you can take if you or someone in your family has been injured.
Keep your travel insurance policy number and emergency contact telephone number with you and contact your insurer as soon as possible.
Whether you have insurance or not you may incur costs and if someone else was to blame you may be able to recover those when you get back home.
If you believe that you or your family has been involved in an accident that was due to someone else’s negligence (and holiday accidents can range from food poisoning to a broken bone through to brain or spinal cord injuries), you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim. You should seek medical treatment immediately (and keep receipts) but get professional legal advice as soon as you get home.
The rules regarding holiday accident compensation claims can be complex and difficult to understand. Thompsons Solicitors has significant expertise in securing holiday accident personal injury claims, and these links explain how the law works. Thompsons specialist teams of personal injury solicitors can advise you if you have a valid compensation claim.
To start a UK-based holiday accident claim, you can either fill in our short online claim form or call Thompsons Solicitors’ experienced personal injury lawyers on 0800 0 224 224.