Pack your policy - Study reveals a quarter of Brits are uninsured on holiday

Article date: 29 May 2007

A quarter of holidaymakers travel without insurance putting themselves at risk of big bills for medical emergencies and lost property, according to a new report by Norwich Union*. This is despite the fact work-weary Brits are now taking more holidays than ever thanks to low-cost airlines, foreign home ownership and the popularity of short breaks.

Half of those who have travelled uninsured say they chanced it because they were "only going on a short break" and a further 14% simply forgot to buy a policy.

And men are much more likely (31%) than women (20%) to travel uninsured.

Norwich Union's "Travel Uncovered Report" reveals that the insurer paid over £43.5 million on travel insurance claims last year. The report highlights exactly what we claim for, what travel insurance covers us for and why we need it.

It also identifies a lack of knowledge among holidaymakers about why they need cover. Nearly half (42%) of Brits incorrectly believe they are most likely to claim for lost, stolen or damaged baggage.

The level of cover the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives is also a source of great confusion. Over a third (36%) of holidaymakers either didn't know whether they needed travel insurance if they had an EHIC or wrongly believed they didn't need insurance at all if they had the card.

The reality is quite different. Medical emergencies are in fact the biggest single cause of travel claims - over £23 million was paid out by Norwich Union for medical emergencies last year with the average claim totalling over £1,200. Having medical problems can be very unsettling in a foreign country and it's not just the monetary compensation that travel insurance takes care of. Extended accommodation, repatriation and advice are all important reasons for not chancing your luck on holiday, and there are costs that will not be covered by the EHIC.

The top three reasons for claiming on travel insurance are:

  1. Medical emergency
  2. Cancellation
  3. Loss, theft or damage to baggage.

Luis Berraondo, travel underwriter at Norwich Union, said: "Holidaymakers put a lot of time and effort into their holiday from which hotel or villa to stay in to which airline and what baggage to take with them, but our research shows that often they don't think about the consequences both financially and emotionally if things go wrong.

"Clearly holidays are times of fun and relaxation but something simple like a child falling over or a tummy bug could mean you end up footing an expensive medical bill if you haven't taken out proper travel insurance.

"And remember to buy your policy promptly after booking your trip; that way if you do have to unavoidably cancel your holiday there is cover in place. And while you're browsing through your holiday brochure take a few minutes to read through your policy documents to ensure you understand what you're covered for and what you're not."

Checklist for travellers

  • Organise your insurance policy as early as possible after booking your trip. Insurance is often last on the holiday checklist, yet if you or a close relative has health problems before you leave causing cancellation of your holiday, you won't be covered if you haven't taken out travel insurance.
  • Tell your insurer about any pre-existing medical problems. If you don't, your claim could be invalid, meaning you'd have to pay for the entire costs of your medical treatment.
  • Know your rights if your plane is cancelled or delayed - Under EU regulations for air passenger rights, all airlines departing from an airport in an EU member state have responsibilities to assist you.
  • Check out the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before travelling. Your travel insurance policy will not cover you if you travel to countries where you are putting yourself at risk.
  • Know what you're buying! It may be that bargain insurance product doesn't suit your needs, understand what you want from your policy.


Download the ‘Travel Insurance Uncovered' report PDF.

For more information on the ‘Travel Insurance Uncovered' report, including a copy of the report, please contact:      

Anna Carter, Lexis PR, 020 7908 6431/07760 253 464,

Joanna Pritchard, Lexis PR, 020 7908 6440/0771 2528558,

Nina Eastman, Lexis PR, 020 7908 6412/0773 603 8847, 

Rebecca Holmes, Norwich Union Press Office, 01603 354 346/07800 690 731,

Notes to editors:

*YouGov interviewed a random sample of 1000 adults aged 18+ on-line across the UK between 23-27 March 2007

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers.  FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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