ABTA is warning travellers about the dangers of travelling overseas uninsured as new ABTA research* has found that one in five holidaymakers (20%) are still travelling overseas uninsured.
Holidaymakers travelling uninsured run the risk of substantial medical bills which can run into thousands of pounds, particularly if an air ambulance is required to fly them home.
The numbers travelling overseas uninsured are similar to last year’s figures, when 22% travelled overseas uninsured, however there has been a big rise in young holidaymakers travelling uninsured. A third (33%) of 16-24 year olds are travelling uninsured, up from 22% in 2014. A third (32%) of 25-34 year olds are also travelling uninsured, making these two age groups the most at risk should something go wrong.
Confusion amongst young holidaymakers over what a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) offers may be partly responsible for them not taking out insurance. Over one in five (22%) of 16-24 year olds believes that they don’t need travel insurance because they have an EHIC. While EHICs, which need to be renewed every five years, will give access to emergency state medical care throughout most of Europe, ABTA would caution that an EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance. EHICs will not cover the cost of repatriation to the UK in an air ambulance, private medical care or additional expenses, such as accommodation for family staying in resort.
Financial constraints may also be responsible for the increase in numbers travelling uninsured, with 30% of all respondents with children saying that cost is the principal reason they don’t take out travel insurance.
There does appear to be growing awareness, however, that the Government will not foot the bill in a medical emergency. Only 11% now think that the Government will settle their medical bills, down from 14% in 2014. This message is also getting through to the younger generation with 16% of 16-24 year olds believing this, down from 19% in 2014, and a further 19% of 25-34 year olds, down from 23% in 2014.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: “It is a real concern that we see so many travellers telling us that they have recently gone overseas without travel insurance. Every year we come across tragic incidents of people having accidents or falling ill overseas without travel insurance and then having to pay bills which can quickly run into thousands of pounds. Often they are younger travellers and their families are left with the burden of having to pick up the bill. Whatever your financial circumstances may be, avoiding taking out travel insurance is a very false economy.”
* Consumer research was conducted by Arkenford Ltd (www.arkenford.co.uk) who specialise in tourism and leisure market research. The ABTA Consumer Trends survey generated response from a nationally representative sample of 2003 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to August 2015. Fieldwork was conducted in August 2015.