Holiday hazard hotspots uncovered

Article date: 10 July 2006

Thailand, Mexico and South Africa are all topexotic holiday destinations for today’s travellers, butbeware, today they are revealed as the most hazardous locationswhen it comes to illness, accidents and crime.

As thousands of Brits prepare to jet off to sunny climes over thenext few weeks, Norwich Union Travel Insurance has compiled a listof the countries most likely to pose a risk to tourists based onits extensive claims database.

  • It may be a star of the East but Thailand featuredheavily as a hotbed for theft, tummy problems, traffic accidentsand lost belongings
  • Sun-seekers in Mexico fell victim to the powerful rayswith the highest number of claims for sun over-exposure
  • The perils of the tropics were highlighted by theCaribbean being the number one hotspot for insect bitesand stings
  • A perfect safari destination, but South Africa comes outtop for robbery with violence
  • Even good old British favourites, Spain and theCanaries don’t escape the odd problem, both posinga risk for robbery and pick pocketing.

The study did reveal, however, that most of usenjoy a trouble-free trip. The safest places to holiday were inWestern Europe, with Ireland coming ahead of Belgium, Holland,Germany and France.

Dawn McMullan, travel product manager at Norwich Union, says:“The purpose of our research is to not to worry touristslooking forward to their summer holidays, just to make them awareof what can go wrong when they’re away from home.

“The majority of holidays go off without a hitch, but wewould advise everyone to take the same precautions abroad as theywould here. It’s very easy to forget simple security measureswhen you’re lying in the sun with a cocktail in yourhand.

“Our research shows that you need to take a little extra carein certain countries, and of course make sure you are adequatelycovered by travel insurance.”

While Norwich Union investigated claims from lost belongings totheft, gastric problems to sun exposure, the biggest cause ofproblems when abroad is unforeseen medical emergencies. If you aretravelling within Europe the new European Health Insurance Card(EHIC) entitles you to reduced cost (sometimes free) emergencymedical costs. But it won’t cover all your costs and will notcover rescue or repatriation.

To ensure holidaymakers enjoy a hazard-free trip, Norwich Union hascompiled some top tips for staying safe:

  1. Lost/Misplaced belongings
    Keep an eye on yourbelongings at all times. Do not leave them unattended and ensureyou don’t check in your valuables while travelling, keepthem with you, in a safe place.
  2. Theft
    Lock belongings in a safe when in ahotel.

    Be aware of open windows and doors in your villa or hotel room– they attract opportunist thieves.
  3. Robbery with violence
    Be aware of your surroundingsand look purposeful. Avoid looking lost, confused or distractedas this makes you an easier target for opportunistthieves.

    Find out the emergency phone numbers used in the area you arevisiting.
  4. Tummy problems
    Eat food that has been freshlyprepared or thoroughly cooked, avoiding food that has been leftstanding for long periods.

    Avoid ice in drinks in countries where you can’t drink thetap water (often it is not made from bottled water).

    Be aware that salads may also have been washed in tapwater.

The top Holiday Hazard Hotspots, by type ofincidents are:

Lost/Misplaced belongings

1. Thailand

2. Mexico

3. Caribbean

4. Australia

5. New Zealand

Road traffic accidents (RTAs)

1. Thailand

2. South Africa

3. India

4. New Zealand

5. Canada

Gastric problems, eg food poisoning

1. Thailand

2. Egypt

3. Caribbean

4. Mexico

5. South Africa

Robbery with violence

1. South Africa

2. Thailand

3. Spain

4. Czech Rep

5. Mexico

Theft

1. Thailand

2. South Africa

3. Caribbean

4. New Zealand

5. Mexico

Ski/Snowboarding accidents

1. Austria

2. Canada

3. Bulgaria

4. Switzerland

5. France

Sun exposure

1. Mexico

2. Caribbean

3. Thailand

4. Egypt

5. Australia

Bites/Stings

1. Caribbean

2. Greece

3. Thailand

4. Mexico

5. Canada

Pick pocketing

1. Czech Rep

2. Thailand

3. Italy

4. India

5. Spain

Lost in transit

1. South Africa

2. Mexico

3. Caribbean

4. Canada

5. USA

For more information visit www.norwichunion.com

-ends-

Press office contacts:
Chris Soult
Lexis PR
Telephone: 020 7908 6475 
E-mail: csoult@lexispr.com 

Rebecca Holmes
Norwich Union Press Office
Telephone: 01603 354 346 or 07800 690 731

Notes to editors:

  • Holiday Hazard Map data is based on a combination of NorwichUnion’s claims data and National Statistics.
  • There were 60,392 claims made by Norwich Union travel customersin 2005. The likelihood of each claim type occurring has beencalculated by comparing claims in each country against volume ofvisits to each country by British holidaymakers – FiguresNational Statistics 2005.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest general insurer with amarket share of around 14%, with a focus on insurance forindividuals and small businesses.
  • It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investmentproducts and one of the largest financial adviser (FA)providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-termsavings business in the UK.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media

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