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How to avoid a holiday from hell

19 June 2017

12:25 PM

19 June 2017

12:25 PM

As the UK basks in beautiful sunshine, it’s tempting to abandon all thoughts of a holiday abroad and opt for a staycation. But we all know the vagaries of British weather. It’ll probably be raining tomorrow.

With this in mind, the financial information company Defaqto has taken a close look at potential nightmare holiday scenarios – and has advice on how to avoid them.

We all want a stress-free summer break but even the best-laid plans can go awry. That’s where a comprehensive travel insurance policy is vital. But according to Defaqto, of the 918 single trip and 943 annual policies on the market, cover for those unpleasant holiday experiences varies dramatically.

Take medical cover, for example. It’s one of the most important features of a travel insurance plan because treatment abroad and other associated costs such as a flight home can be extremely expensive. An air ambulance alone from America can cost as much as £45,000, yet some single trip and annual policies only insure up to £60,000, meaning a traveller needing subsequent treatment and transport could be severely out of pocket. In comparison, other policies offer protection for much higher amounts, and 3 per cent of both single trip and annual policies offer unlimited cover for medical costs.

 

If a holiday has to be cancelled or cut short for an unexpected reason such as illness or injury, holidaymakers will want to get as much of their money back as possible. The average two-week break for a family of four costs almost £5,000. But around a fifth of single trip and annual policies will only cover cancellation costs up to £1,000, and some policies offer no cover at all.

Maximum amount insured for holiday cancellation or curtailment

% of single trip policies

% of annual policies

No cover

3%

2%

Up to £1,000

19%

18%

Between £1,001 and £5,000

66%

65%

Between £5,001 and £20,000

11%

15%

Unlimited

1%

n/a

Total

100%

100%

Furthermore, one in seven single trip and 12 per cent of annual policies will not pay any money if a departure is missed due to unexpected circumstances, for example if a car breaks down en route to the airport. Similarly, 14 per cent of single trip and 11 per cent of annual policies do not provide any compensation if travel is significantly delayed.

Before jetting off, it’s also important that the contents of a suitcase are fully accounted for when choosing insurance cover. A quarter of single trip and 22 per cent of annual policies will only insure up to £1,000 worth of lost, stolen or damaged baggage, meaning holidaymakers could be out of pocket if their possessions are worth more.

Maximum amount insured for lost stolen or damaged baggage

% of single trip policies

% of annual policies

No cover

4%

4%

Up to £1,000

25%

22%

Between £1,001 and £2,000

51%

49%

Between £2,001 and £3,000

17%

18%

Over £3,000

3%

7%

Total

100%

100%

So, the lesson is to beware of common travel insurance pitfalls. Read the fine print before buying a policy and make sure the plan covers all your potential needs. You also need to be honest when filling out the forms – for instance, if you fib about any pre-existing medical conditions and later need to claim for one of them, the insurer is likely to refuse to pay out.

Remember also to gather as much evidence as possible if you need to claim as many insurers require substantial proof for claims on lost or stolen money or luggage, and missed or delayed departures.

Brian Brown, head of insight at Defaqto, said: ‘Holidaying is meant to be fun and relaxing, but there are a number of things that could go wrong before or during a trip, and it pays to be prepared for the unexpected. If you are going away this summer, it’s essential to have adequate travel insurance cover in place.’

Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator


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