Last year more than 150,000 Britons made travel insurance claims in the country, one in four of the global total.
That is a rate of 400 claims every single day and underlines the importance of taking out travel insurance this summer, wherever in the world you are heading.
It is hardly a surprise that Spain, including the Canary Islands and Balearics, generates the highest number of travel claims, given that it is the number one destination for Britons jetting overseas.
However, it also underlines the importance of buying travel insurance, even when holidaying in a familiar destination.
Popular hotspots the US, France, Italy and Greece made up the rest of the top five, according to the research from Direct Line Travel Insurance. There was a sharp drop in claims from North Africa, as Britons shunned the troubled region after the horrific terror attacks in Tunisia.
Direct Line’s head of travel insurance Tim Bishop said by far the most common reason for making a travel insurance claim was cancellation, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of all claims. This makes it vital to take out travel insurance at the same time that you book your holiday, so you are covered for any problems that arise before departing from the UK, such as death or family illness.
Bishop says: “It is shocking how many holidaymakers leave buying travel insurance to the last minute. Losing out on a holiday is bad enough, but if you have taken out comprehensive travel insurance you will not suffer a financial loss as well.”
It is shocking how many holidaymakers leave buying travel insurance to the last minute
AT A LOSS
One in four claims was for a medical problem needing hospital treatment, which can be particularly costly in the US, where bills quickly run into thousands of pounds.
Many Britons take out the free European Health Insurance Card when flying to the continent, but you should still arrange travel insurance because the EHIC only covers local state healthcare and does not offer private treatment or repatriation.
Accidental loss of baggage and airline or travel company curtailment or delays also generated a significant number of claims. One in eight travel insurance claims exceeded £1,000, underlining the importance of insurance. Bishop adds: “You can relax in the knowledge that you are covered should anything unexpected happen.”
You should always shop around for the right deal, rather than snapping up the first policy you are offered by your bank, travel company or insurer. Emma Morris, spokeswoman at holiday comparison website TravelSupermarket.com, says the best value policy for seven days’ travel cover for a family of four to Spain this week costs just £13.86 from InsureFor.com: “This compares to a quote of £76.26 for a comparable standard policy with the Post Office, which would cost the same family five times as much, an additional £62.40.”
James Bridge, assistant director of the Association of British Insurers, says price is not everything and you should compare policy features carefully: “Always remember to choose the cover that meets your needs, and not simply buy on price alone.”
As a rule of thumb, the Government backed Money Advice Service says a good travel policy will give you £1 million or more towards medical expenses in Europe, rising to at least £2 million in the US.
It should also give you at least £2,000 for cancellation and curtailment, with further payments for missed departure, delays or travel abandonment, and £1,500 or more baggage cover.
Finally, you need around £2 million of personal liability cover in case you are liable to pay damages for injury to somebody else or their property.
If you have already booked your trip, make sure you have it covered, to alleviate the pain if you never actually make it to Spain.