Post Office Travel Insurance Safer Holidays Survey

 

With countries once again open to visitors, we asked UK holidaymakers their thoughts on heading abroad this year and the protection they’ll need when they go.

 

Our survey reveals a hunger to travel but some concerning gaps in knowledge about making sure trips are properly covered against incident with the right type of travel insurance. This article shares our key findings and helps fill some of those gaps.

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Gauging the nation’s mood as holidays take off

Holidays are back. After more than two years of global and regional lockdowns and ever-changing travel restrictions, the world has opened up its beaches, hotels and attractions once more. And holidaymakers have been keen to make the most of it, if cautiously so.

 

April 2022 saw UK residents make 5.6 million trips overseas – 20 times the amount of the previous year (source: ONS, April 2022). Demand for summer breaks has been high too, with TUI reporting bookings for the season up 19% on pre-pandemic levels.

 

For most, this will be the first holiday abroad after several years following Covid guidelines. We wanted to know how the nation feels about returning overseas and how clued-up they are on what’s needed to travel – like insurance with the right level of cover. We asked 2,000 members of the public planning a foreign holiday in the next 12 months to complete our Post Office Travel Insurance Travel Safe Survey. Conducted via OnePoll, it’s provided a snapshot of the nation’s feelings about staying safe in another country this year.

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Are you all set to go?

It’s always been vital to pack travel insurance for overseas trips. The added complications Covid-19 has brought are just another reason to make sure you’re properly covered for where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing.

 

The good news is our survey highlights research is happening into what’s needed in order to travel – such as Covid vaccination passes, local entry requirements and airport procedures – and what travel insurance will and won’t cover you for.

 

That said, the numbers also reveal that, even after the pandemic, we’re still some way off everyone taking travel insurance seriously. Gaps persist in the knowledge of some that could trip them up if things go wrong while they’re abroad.

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Covid-19 and travel

Awareness of entry requirements and restrictions

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Covid-19 has caused the biggest upheaval in the travel sector and attitudes to overseas holidays in recent years, so how prepared are UK holidaymakers feeling as they head abroad once more?

 

Many of the countries they can’t wait to visit still have Covid rules and regulations in place. Fortunately, most of those we asked are making sure they know what’s expected before travelling to sunnier climes.

 

65% are aware of the Covid-19 regulations they need to follow in their chosen destination, and 59% know how to find details of rules and restrictions in countries they plan to visit. Do you?

 

The most up-to-date source of this information is the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), which has foreign travel advice for all countries and territories around the world. Other factors besides Covid-19 can also determine this advice, such as civil unrest or a natural catastrophe in the area. These regulations can change, so check regularly, including when you book and again before you travel.

 

Covid-19 testing and travel passes

Among the FCDO’s advice you’ll find detail of whether you need proof of vaccination against the virus, or exemption, in order to enter your destination. Reassuringly, 70% of those we asked had either already downloaded these documents or planned to do so ready for travel.

 

If you’re among the remaining number who haven’t downloaded their vaccination documents, ensure you do so. For destinations that require proof of vaccination status to allow entry, it’s as vital an item on your travel checklist as your passport.

 

Make sure you’ve either saved it to your mobile device or printed a copy, ideally both, in good time before your trip, so you don’t get turned away. If you need proof and don't have it your travel insurance won't cover a missed trip.

 

Covid-19 and travel insurance

The pandemic has also brought about changes in what holidaymakers look for in their travel insurance. Among the survey’s results, we noted:

 

  • Covid-19 cover is now seen as of similar importance to protecting possessions on holiday. 32% of respondents cited coronavirus cover as an important feature when choosing travel insurance compared with 31% citing possessions cover
  • Given the documented higher risk Covid poses to their age group, the over-65s are understandably the most likely to look for cover to protect against the disruption it can cause (42%) – and uptake of the Ghic (see below) is highest in this age group too (56%)
  • Having seen how quickly the Covid situation and restrictions can change and affect travel plans, 52% of travellers have made sure that they’re aware of what their policies do and don’t cover in areas like trip cancellation. Conversely, this means nearly half don’t know or aren’t sure
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The importance of upfront research

It’s too late to find out you’re not covered for something when it happens on your holiday. And, while above average numbers of respondents told us they’ve been doing their research on travel insurance, a high proportion aren’t clear on whether they’re adequately covered.

 

 

Finding the right cover

  • 57% conduct a ‘fair’ amount of research into what travel insurance providers offer before they decide which company to pick. Only 20% say they hardly do any research and a mere 5% admit to avoiding research altogether – but that’s still 25% who may not be as clued up as they need to be on the right cover for their needs

  • Just over half (54%) know what activities are not covered by their insurance but 18% don’t know and another 22% aren’t sure, meaning they could be at risk of unexpected costs if something goes wrong.

    Check the policy terms and conditions closely and read the Insurance Product Information Document (IPID), which summarises what’s covered and any significant exclusions or limitations. Most insurers will also have an FAQ page online that answers key questions

  • Almost half (44%) of those we asked either didn’t know or weren’t sure about the excess they’ll pay on a travel insurance claim. It’s always a good idea to check this when you sign up.

    Most insurers offer different excess amounts depending on the level of cover. Typically, the higher cover levels will have the reduced amount of excess to be paid. Sometimes you can add an ‘excess waiver’. This removes the need to pay for any excess amounts, should you need to make a claim. It may cost more upfront for the policy, but it could save you cash in the long run

  • With the cost of living crisis taking hold in the UK, it’s perhaps no surprise 53% said cost remained the most important factor when choosing travel insurance

Cover for activities on holiday

  • While 60% said they were aware of what activities their travel insurance covers them for, 15% responded that they didn’t know and 19% weren’t sure. That could mean over one third are doing things on holiday they’re not covered for.

    It’s important to check policy terms as some have limited cover for activities, or you may need to buy extra cover that includes activities that pose a higher risk. Sometimes personal liability and/or personal accidents may not be covered for certain activities

  • 56% said that limits to their cover (including activities, days out, tours, what they can take) haven’t been a factor in deciding what to do when on holiday.

    While most days out or tours will be covered, it’s important to take the time to check what is and isn’t covered if you want to participate in certain activities. Most insurers will provide a list of which activities are covered or excluded. For example, there may be requirements to wear safety equipment, such as a helmet, or there may be certain height restrictions.

    It’s a good idea to download a copy of your policy terms and conditions to your smartphone, and perhaps take a look while killing time at the airport

Is a Ghic enough?

Introduced in January 2021 to replace the existing European health insurance card (Ehic) after Brexit, the Global health insurance card (Ghic) gives UK residents who hold one access to healthcare while on holiday in an EU country or Switzerland.

 

Ghic holders are entitled to state-provided healthcare for:

 

49% of the UK holidaymakers we surveyed already hold a Ghic (or an Ehic that’s still in date). Even if you’re not planning an EU break right now, it’s worth having one in case you feel the call of the continent later. It’s not the only cover you need, though…

 

An impressive 85% of those that said they had a Ghic also said they knew they’d also need travel insurance. However, this means there are still a large number who aren’t.

 

There are crucial differences between the cover a Ghic provides and the protection you can expect from travel insurance. In the medical sphere, Ghic won’t cover private treatment, which may be a more appropriate option depending on the nature of your injury or illness or your holiday location, nor will it cover repatriation if you need to be flown home for ongoing care.

 

But the main area of contrast is that Ghic is only concerned with healthcare. After Covid, this worry is perhaps being surpassed by worries about delays and missed departures – things only travel insurance can help with. Moreover, loss of and damage to possessions is covered by travel insurance but not Ghic.

 

Airport security

Airports can cause holiday stress when you’re ready to relax, and flight delays, cancellations and other operational issues don’t help with that overall calm.

 

Fortunately, the numbers suggest the public do their homework to help the experience run smoothly. They’re clued up, for instance, on the 100ml rule for hand luggage.

 

The rule states you must not take more than 100ml of restricted liquids into a plane cabin. Those liquids must be placed inside individual 100ml containers and include:

 

  • Drinks
  • Toiletries and cosmetics
  • Contact lens solution

While more than half of those we surveyed were aware they can take toothpaste (59%), cosmetics and toiletries (55%), 13% of respondents weren’t sure what they could take as hand luggage in general. Considering it’s been more than two years since most will have flown, it’s perhaps a surprise this result wasn’t higher. We’ve written a guide to what you can take on a plane that may help with that.

 

Safety on holiday

Our data shows that holidaymakers are a fairly safety-conscious group, with 61% saying they always use their room safe to store valuables and the same percentage saying they have never had an accident on holiday.

 

Almost the same number (57%) know the safety info for their accommodation when they arrive, and 46% have made themselves aware of the key differences in laws between their destination and the UK when they travel.

 

While these numbers are reassuring, they do imply that a significant proportion of travellers have gaps in their knowledge about important safety issues. It could seem unnecessary, for example, to familiarise yourself with local laws if you always avoid trouble anyway, but sometimes common over-the-counter medicines available in the UK can land you in hot water in some territories.

 

If 61% of respondents haven’t had an accident on holiday, the implication is that 39% might have – showing that these events are more common than you might think. Since even a sprained ankle can require hospital treatment, having travel insurance is a necessity.

Make sure you have travel insurance in place for your trip.

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Common travel insurance questions