Travelling without insurance

In an average year, millions of Britons go abroad without the right travel insurance – or even without any cover at all. Are you one of them?

Heading on holiday or an overseas trip of any kind without the correct cover could be putting you and your family at risk. This guide looks at why.

Male wearing winter jacket and backpack looking up at departures board

Research carried out by ABTA before the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that 22% of holidaymakers travelled completely uninsured and 27% went without the correct cover. The second group included people who didn’t declare a pre-existing medical condition or took part in activities that they weren’t covered for. Both situations can lead insurers to reject claims and worse, leave you unprotected against dangerous situations.

There’s a huge amount that can go wrong while you’re away, a lot of it being out of your control, so getting the right travel insurance for you is crucial to making sure you’re covered and giving you peace of mind.

Wherever you're going, make sure you've got good travel insurance

7 common misconceptions around travel insurance

Jon, Croydon:

"I travel to Germany often, but I travel light each time and have an Ehic, which gives me health cover if I get sick."

Ehic recently replaced by the Ghic doesn’t offer the cover that many people think. You’re entitled to a baseline level of cover at local amenities, but the costly parts of overseas medical emergencies– such as repatriation – are not covered.

Medical problems only make up a small percentage of travel insurance claims. Ehic doesn’t cover you for any of the situations that can cause untold grief on holiday, like lost luggage, cancellation, a bankrupt provider or robbery.

Ehics expire every 5 years, so make sure that yours is valid with enough time to replace it with the new Ghic if it's no longer in date.

Stacey, Norbury:

“I thought travel insurance was only for getting ill on holiday, so I never got it. Then I went to New York and the flight was five hours late, and not covered by EU law. Now, I never leave without it.”

Delayed flights aren’t the only trauma associated with flying. Luggage being sent to the wrong place, airline closures and more are all reasons you need the right travel insurance.

Alex, Bristol:

“My bank gives me free travel insurance, so I don’t need to buy another policy when I go away.”

If your bank gives you free travel insurance, do you know what you’re covered for? Is your partner covered, or your kids?

Free insurance deals need to be scrutinised to make sure they deliver what you need. It’s too late once you’re away to realise that you’re not covered for the activity you’re doing, or that a loved one isn’t on your policy.

When you get your insurance through your bank or credit card, make sure you know exactly what you’re covered for. You might be unprotected in a way that is important to you, such as if you’re going skiing or on a cruise.

It’s always important to get the right travel insurance before going away to ensure you have the best cover.

Lottie, Ashford:

“I used to get travel insurance, but I’ve never made a claim so now I don’t bother.”

Travel insurance is about making sure you’ve got the right cover for the unexpected. No one wants to use it, but in the one situation that you really need it, you’ll be glad you have it. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Sean, Milton Keynes:

“Getting travel insurance is often so far in the back of my mind that I simply forget to buy it.”

Buying your travel insurance when you book your trip means you’re covered in the run-up to your holiday and that you don’t have a last-minute panic – or worse, forget to buy it entirely. If you buy your insurance as early as possible and then have an accident a week before you depart, you can be covered and needn’t lose out completely.

Klaudia, Totnes:

“If I’m going on a cheap holiday, I don’t want to spend extra on something I’m probably never going to use.”

The cost of cover is linked to the type of holiday you’re going on. A brief city break in the EU will be much less than a lengthy road-trip across the US for the same applicant.

Compared to the costs you might have to fork out if you lost your holiday, your ability to travel or suffered a medical emergency, the cost of travel insurance is very low.

The cheapest travel insurance options might not provide you with sufficient cover. Always make sure you’ve read the policy documents, agreed to the excess and know what you’re covered for before buying.

It is always going to be preferable to be in a situation where a payout is possible. If you don’t have a travel insurance policy, you are guaranteed not to get a payout if something should happen. This can potentially leave you thousands of pounds out of pocket.

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