Hopefully, the only thing you have to show for it are some great snaps and maybe a few dodgy tan lines. But what if your holiday was marred with something much worse than poor photography skills and ill-advised swimwear? What if your well-earned break was ruined by events totally out of your control?
The risk of terror related tragedies is, sadly, something we all now have to live with but, seemingly, apart from not booking your annuals to a war zone, we can only pray that it is not a horror that we will ever actually have to confront - who would ever have thought that mass murder would be something inflicted on a beautiful city like Nice? Unless you’re a government agent charged with thwarting such horrors, you could never be expected to foresee such an eventuality.
We all know that insurance is about risk. Adrenaline junkies deserve the higher premiums, but where was the increased risk in travelling to the French coast last month, to join in the revelry of a family centred celebration? What could possibly go wrong? The heart-breaking scenes transmitted around the world - when a large truck ploughed through the Bastille Day crowd, mowing down innocent families who had simply gathered to watch the fireworks - is an all to painful demonstration that sometimes things do go horribly wrong; and you can only do so much to protect yourself.
And then again, nature will always play its part in creating mayhem, resulting in the tragic loss of life. As the death toll rises in Italy following the massive earthquake last night, the locals and holidays makers alike relay terrifying eyewitness accounts as it is revealed how four towns were almost wiped off the map in just a matter of seconds. The last earthquake of this magnitude was in 1980: Campania and Basilicata, southern Italy, suffered a quake that was 6.5 in magnitude which claimed the lives of 2,735 people and left 394,000 people homeless. Whilst Italy and Sicily are no strangers to these disasters, what realistically can they do to avoid the disastrous consequences?
But what of those who court just a little danger, a bit of fun, with only a soupcon of daring required? The sun is out and you’re lying on the beach watching the jet skis flying past and you think to yourself ‘I’ve always wanted to do that’ - the group of teenagers skimming the water until they part company with a yellow inflatable, or the father and son act who take to the skies towed by a handsome local at the wheel of a speeding boat. Countless groups go out and come back. It all seems safe enough. Doesn’t it?
Last week a friend of mine went paragliding with his daughter in Turkey. A late turn from the driver of the boat saw both slam into a cliff face, leaving the pair with substantial and horrific injuries. Worse still – if there could be anything worse - the entire devastating scene was witnessed by the rest of the family sitting in the boat below – you can only imagine the family’s pain. Both the victims have multiple lacerations and fractures, but in particular, the female, aged 25, suffered a broken back. She’s had one operation already, but still has at least 2 more to go. The medical bill alone currently stands at £16,000 and is rising steadily. All this was followed by more bad news - they are not insured. They had standard travel insurance, but this did not include paragliding, which comes under the banner of ‘dangerous sports.’ The younger children are now on their way home, but the injured parties and next of kin remain, for what will no doubt turn into a lengthy and costly period.
Apparently, a staggering 48% of 15 to 24 year olds still go on holiday without insurance, and a mystifying 24% of adults don’t bother to get cover either. So why don’t they?
Seemingly, some 16% of travellers still believe that the British Government will cover the cost of medical treatment aboard, which is simply not the case. Statistics show that misconceptions about the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may be partly to blame. Whilst having a card entitles you to treatment in EU member countries, it only entitles you to essential medical care to the same level as locals in that area.
Things will change again post Brexit, but as the current system stands, the EHIC will NOT cover repatriation to the UK, it will NOT cover the cost of an ambulance, and in EU countries where there is no National Health Service, you will still be expected to pay what the locals pay to see a medical professional.
Last season, nearly 4,000 British holiday makers were hospitalised abroad. Although some of these were insured, nearly half were unaware that without it, they were entirely responsible for their own medical bills. Also, when asked, 78% of those injured did not have the means to pay for the costs of their medical care abroad without cover.
It is estimated that a fall resulting in a broken bone or a minor operation, along with missed flights and other incidentals, in somewhere like Spain, could easily incur a bill of £20,000 plus. Go further afield, like the Unites States for example, and the numbers quickly become frightening. If you don’t have the cash to pay the bills, it would undoubtedly result in the loss of precious assets back home to fund your care. Or, potentially, the refusal or withdrawal of treatment.
Whether it is paragliding, jet skiing or bungee jumping, we are getting more adventurous when on holiday. But still only half of us will check if our travel insurance covers an accident before embarking on such an activity and, even more worryingly, even if we found out it didn’t, we would be quite likely to just go ahead and have a go anyway.
A quick straw poll conducted round the Aston Charles office confirms this. Like doctors who smoke, we know the risks but do it anyway. Whether it is the Government or insurance companies, or maybe even an opportunity for a JV, a campaign of awareness is clearly necessary. Like car insurance, perhaps it should even be made compulsory? To recruit such a policy is a win win for all – increased sales with the added bonus of safeguarding our UK citizens.
The cost of travel insurance is a drop in the ocean compared to footing a hefty medical bill abroad. You can’t always mitigate the risk, or the dangers of the event itself, but you can do much to ensure that any eventualities as a result are covered. And even with insurance, don’t assume you’re covered for every flight of fancy that takes you. It is very much as they say; ‘act in haste and repent at your leisure’.