Booking our holidays is something we all look forward to. You might be planning that round-the-world trip of a lifetime, sorting out your annual getaway, or maybe you want to just have a weekend away to blow out the cobwebs.
Whatever your travel plans, deciding where to go and what to do can be an exciting adventure. While there’s a lot of information available about things to do in destinations across the globe, there isn’t much statistical data about the types of risk that are posed to travellers country-by-country.
So we’ve put together our Travel Smart Index. We teamed up with the Centre for Economic & Business Research (Cebr) to analyse 17,295 Post Office Travel Insurance claims from our customers. Cebr also analysed 27,000 consular assistance requests from 49 countries in 2018 to help in the creation of an index of the level of risk people might be exposed to in popular travel destinations.
The research looked at six categories of claims and consular requests: accidents, baggage, cancellations, travel documents, victim of crime assistance and emergency assistance. This highlighted where people were more likely to claim on their insurance or need assistance from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
By comparing a country’s score to the average in each category, every country was assigned an index ranking. The index is scored on a 10 point scale, with a 10 indicating a country with more claims at a higher cost.
This index can help you understand the type of risk you might face when you travel to your destination of choice and help you plan to protect yourself in advance, so that you can have the best time possible.
Travel Smart Index
When we combine the results of all types of claims and assistance requests, we can gain an overall picture of which countries have higher levels of risk.
The scores might help you plan for risks that are unique to you. For example, if you know that you run a risk of incurring medical expenses, you might like to know that India has the highest average cost of a medical claim, at £4,540, while countries that accept the European Health Insurance Card typically have the lowest.
But that doesn’t mean EHIC countries are free of medical expenses. The card doesn’t cover important medical needs like repatriation. Besides, an EHIC won’t cover you against anything outside of a medical context, like loss of belongings or cancellation.
Countries that you might consider low-risk can have unexpectedly high index scores too. For example, Canada tops the list when it comes to cancellation, while Sweden scores a 9 where lost or disrupted luggage is concerned.
These findings might help you to plan elements of your holiday in greater detail. For instance, you might want to try and travel to Sweden with only hand luggage to avoid the potential upset of lost hold luggage. And buying travel insurance at the same time you book your holiday can mean that you’re protected from the point of purchase – potentially giving you cover in the event that you have to cancel your trip.
Countries place a high importance on protection
The research shows that medical costs in Japan can be very high. So to avoid situations where travellers are unable to afford the treatment they need, the Japanese tourist office strongly emphasise the need for visitors to have travel insurance for their trips.
Whether or not travel insurance is an entry requirement, buying a policy is necessary to avoid potentially having to pay for the cost of any mishaps out of your own pocket. The overwhelming number of claims when abroad were for medical reasons, making up 60% of all claims and 84% of overall claim cost. The difference in these percentages highlights how expensive medical care can be overseas, particularly when in countries where the cost of treatment is highest, such as the USA, Japan, Canada and India.
Planning ahead can save money
By understanding the challenges you might face if something were to go wrong while you’re away, you can plan how you might get help in overcoming them. While people might get their info about the riskiness or otherwise of a destination from travel guides and the advice of friends and family, our Travel Smart Index is designed to give you quantifiable data on the sort of thing that could pose a problem when you’re travelling.
Only you know your travel needs – from medical conditions to a desire to take part in adventure tourism. But this can help you make sound decisions about the type of cover you need, and the type of extra precautions you might need to take, in order to have a holiday you’ll never forget.