UK

Travel insurers ‘dealt with one new claim every two minutes typically in 2022’

Travel insurance should always be an essential holiday purchase, the Association of British Insurers said (Peter Byrne/PA)
Travel insurance should always be an essential holiday purchase, the Association of British Insurers said (Peter Byrne/PA) Travel insurance should always be an essential holiday purchase, the Association of British Insurers said (Peter Byrne/PA)

Last year travel insurers dealt with a new claim every two minutes typically, according to analysis from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The number and cost of claims rose significantly, reflecting a return to pre-pandemic travel levels, after lower claims due to the Covid travel restrictions, the ABI said.

Travel insurers dealt with 362,000 claims in 2022, surging by 148% compared with 2021.

Total claim payouts, at £352 million, leapt by 230% on the total recorded by the ABI in 2021.

Holidaymakers are also being reminded to take details of their insurer with them when they go abroad.

The ABI highlighted one significant payout for emergency overseas medical treatment covered by travel insurance, which came to £250,000.

Someone visiting Thailand suffered a serious blood infection needing intensive medical treatment and an air ambulance back to the UK. The total bill, paid by the travel insurer, was £250,000.

In another case, a holidaymaker in Spain needed private medical treatment for a kidney infection. This cost £15,000, covered by travel insurance.

It also said that last year there were big rises in cancellation and medical expenses claims.

The number of cancellation claims, at 129,000, rose by 75% on 2021. There were 112,000 medical claims, a leap of 235%, with payouts totalling £197 million.

Spain, the United States, Greece and France were the top overseas destinations in 2022 for people making medical claims on their travel insurance.

The average travel insurance claim last year was the highest on the ABI’s records going back to 2004, at £973. The average emergency medical treatment claim was £1,750, also the highest on record.

Claim payouts tend to rise with age, with an average claim value of £571 for holidaymakers aged 36 to 40, rising to £1,950 for holidaymakers aged 71 to 75.

Louise Clark, the ABI’s policy adviser, general insurance, said: “Most holidaymakers remember their travels for all the right reasons, but for a few it turns into the stuff of nightmares.

“No one wants to think of anything spoiling their holiday, but if it does, you could be left counting the cost for many years. The risk of falling seriously ill or injured while overseas can be financially horrendous, as well as very stressful. Travel insurance should always be an essential holiday purchase, and never a nice-to-have.”

Here are six essential travel insurance tips from the ABI for your summer getaway:

1. Make sure it is safe to travel. Check and follow the latest foreign travel advice on gov.uk from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Travelling against it is likely to invalidate your travel insurance.

Always follow local health advice, such as dealing with heatwaves. Your travel insurance will apply in the usual way if you need emergency medical treatment due to extreme weather.

2. Be honest and open when applying for cover, especially around any pre-existing medical conditions, or medication you may be taking.

3. Read your policy, so you understand what you are covered for, and what limits and exclusions apply.

4. Take your travel insurer’s emergency helpline contact details, so you can contact them if the worst happens.

5. Have your EHIC, or get a GHIC, if travelling to Europe. If you hold a current European Health Insurance Card (the EHIC entitles you to access state-provided health care when visiting the EU), this remains valid until its expiry date. After that, or if you do not have an EHIC, you will need to apply in the same way (for free through NHS online) for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Neither the EHIC or the GHIC is a replacement for travel insurance as it will not cover you for all medical costs, or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.

6. Know your rights if facing travel problems. Get as much information as you can, so that, in the event of any travel problems, you know what you are entitled to and from whom. Check if your travel insurance covers travel disruption, which will cover certain non-refundable costs because of specific circumstances (for example, strike or industrial action and airport closures), when other consumer protections do not apply.