23 Oct

Travelling uninsured on the rise: over one in five now travel overseas without insurance

ABTA continues to argue for the relaxation of regulations around sale of travel insurance

ABTA is warning holidaymakers about the dangers of travelling overseas without travel insurance as new ABTA research* reveals that 22% of people now travel abroad uninsured. Alarmingly, the number of people who stated that they had taken an overseas trip without travel insurance in 2014 has risen from 19% in 2013. This worrying trend is being driven by younger travellers with over a third (35%) of 16-24 year olds and 36% of 25-34 year olds saying they didn’t take out insurance.

Younger people are significantly more likely to risk travelling overseas without insurance as they believe the Government will pay for their treatment, 19% of 16-24 year olds and 23% of 25-34 year olds; they rely on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), 25% of 16-24 year olds and 23% 25-34 year olds; or they simply don’t want to spend money on insurance, 29% of 16-24 year olds and 31% of 25-34 year olds say that cost is the principal reason they don’t take out travel insurance. With comprehensive annual policies available for as little as £60 and the potential for medical costs to run into thousands of pounds, this is very much a false economy.

Since regulations around the sale of travel insurance as an ancillary product were introduced by the previous Government in 2007, ABTA research has demonstrated that consumer take-up of insurance has declined markedly and there is no evidence that consumers have benefited from increased regulation. As such, ABTA continues to argue for the relaxation of these burdensome regulations and is asking the Government to review its position. ABTA recently submitted a consultation response to the Treasury calling for the regulation to be repealed and continues to work with the Tourism Minister, her officials and the Financial Conduct Authority, as the industry regulator, to examine ways in which the burdens placed on the industry when selling insurance could be reduced so that insurance is more readily available at the point of sale.

Mark Tanzer ABTA Chief Executive said: “It is a worrying trend that we are seeing an increase in the number of people travelling overseas uninsured. Younger travellers are driving this increase through a mixture of misunderstandings and a desire to save money. ABTA and its Members have expressed concerns that the regulations mean fewer travel businesses are selling insurance at the point of sale, and ultimately this appears to have resulted in fewer holidaymakers taking out the appropriate insurance. We will continue to make our Members’ views clear to Government.  In the meantime, we urge Members to familiarise themselves with their rights and responsibilities in informing customers about travel insurance.”

Visit the Member Zone on ABTA.com for more information.

*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 2001 consumers using an online research methodology and related to holiday booking habits in the 12 months to July 2014. Fieldwork was conducted in July 2014.