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Travel insurance - don't leave home without it

26th March 2013 Print

A surge in last-minute single trip travel insurance sales suggests that Brits are looking for the warmth that will be absent on these shores this Easter.
But the AA's own figures also show that up to a fifth (19%) of travellers don't take insurance with them, opening them up the risk of eye-watering costs if things go wrong.
Excuses for not taking out cover range from forgetfulness and cost to using the free EHIC (reciprocal European health provision card), 30% of those with no insurance saying they use the card instead.
Simon Douglas, director of AA Travel Insurance says: "Every traveller should take an EHIC with them but it cannot be relied upon to cover every health eventuality - and it won't cover you for lost or damaged property or delayed or cancelled flights.
"It is evidence of entitlement to reciprocal health care in EU countries and Switzerland.  It is intended to give access to a similar level of treatment that local people might expect in your destination country.  In some countries a charge may be made while the EHIC certainly wouldn't fund repatriation, for instance, after suffering a major illness.
"What's more, there is growing evidence in some resorts, particularly in Spain, that health centres and hospitals are not recognising the EHIC and may charge an up-front fee for treatment.
"We also have anecdotal evidence that hotel staff, taxi drivers and others accept a payment to take visitors to a private hospital that doesn't accept the EHIC, instead of a state facility."
Mr Douglas also says travellers must ensure that they declare any health issues that they may have suffered from, or are suffering (described as ‘pre-existing conditions') to their travel insurer, even if they are not explicitly asked for them.
"If you don't disclose an existing health problem, even if it has successfully been treated, you are likely to find that any claim will be refused.  That could happen even if the claim is for something other than the condition not disclosed if that comes to light in a routine medical enquiry, for example.
"It's particularly important to check the small print of policies that might come as part of a separate arrangement such as with a travel package or a bank account benefit."
Examples of treatment costs (in Spain for example, which would be covered by the typical £13.82 premium for a family of four travelling to Spain for a week With AA Travel Insurance), include:

Heart attack: Four days in intensive care plus up to five days in a ward: £10-12,000: plus doctor escort home, an additional £5,000-£6,000

Gastroenteritis: In-patient £3,000; Out-patient £300-£500

Fractured toe: No surgery needed; £300-£400

Fractured hip: with stretcher repatriation to the UK: £20-25,000

Ear infection: £150 plus potential flight costs home if the patient is not fit to fly on scheduled return date

Allergic Reaction to insect/animal bite: £200 as an out-patient; £3,000 or more if admitted for treatment
A host of travel information and advice can be found on the AA's website including European Breakdown cover if you take your car over the channel; travel money and travel insurance .
Top tip: Mr Douglas adds that travellers could get a discount on their travel cover if their home insurance policy covers their personal property - which would include baggage - away from home.  
"Tell your travel insurer if you have that cover and that you don't need baggage included and you could get a premium reduction," he says. "Otherwise you are insured for your camera and other personal effects twice."