Preparing for the unexpected when travelling abroad

Failing to take out travel insurance – or purchasing cover that does not adequately meet your needs – can have dire consequences
Richard Willis

ADVANCES in air travel over recent decades have made the world seem like an increasingly smaller place.

The emergence of budget flights and affordable package holidays have, for many, made catching a plane as much second nature as getting on a bus.

However, there is a danger that the convenience offered by modern aviation could breed complacency among holidaymakers.

And when this extends to not taking out travel insurance – or purchasing cover that does not adequately meet the needs of the travelling party – the consequences can be dire.

According to advice issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, an emergency abroad can prove to be extremely expensive for the unprepared.

It has invented several scenarios to place the perils of not taking out insurance in perspective. A stomach infection taken in California, for example, requiring hospital treatment and additional flights home could cost £100,000, the office said.

And even emergencies closer to home, such as a fall resulting in a broken hip and a stay in a Spanish hospital, are likely to result in bills totalling £15,000 when treatment and return flights are taken into consideration.

Medical crises are only one consideration, however, with other common problems including the financial collapse of tour operators, hotels or airlines.

During the 2016 summer season, the fall of travel firm lowcostholidays into administration left thousands of UK customers in the lurch with minimal money available for compensation available.

Although only a small percentage of holidaymakers do not purchase travel insurance, even the most basic policies would cover many of these mishaps.

For instance, over-the-counter products generally provide up to £10 million for medical bills and associated expenses.

Such standard policies however are always accompanied by some caveats worth paying attention to. Many, for example, will not cover pre-existing medical conditions or those aged over 70 while some will not meet repatriation costs should the worst happen abroad.

It is prudent therefore, to seek professional advice in order to find a policy that suits the needs of all in your travelling party.

This assumes greater importance if anything hazardous or unusual is planned during the trip.

Activities such as scuba diving or bungee jumping will be covered by standard policies in general, but mountain climbing to great heights may not.

Other bespoke arrangements can include cover for the loss or theft of golf equipment, and even the cost of pre-pad green fees for those on a golfing excursion. There are specialist policies too for motorcycling holidays.

With a business travel policy, these can be extended to cover all company directors, their spouses, children and even the family nanny to include leisure trips.

Planning ahead, and making a small investment in peace of mind ahead of any trip, could prevent travellers counting the cost of complacency at a later date should the unexpected happen while abroad.

:: Richard Willis is managing director of Willis Insurance and Risk Management


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