Mishaps on holiday: do you need travel insurance?

Mishaps on holiday: do you need travel insurance?

It’s the holiday season again and many people will be looking forward to their annual holiday, especially those that are travelling abroad. But sometimes things don’t always go according to plan…

Holiday mishaps can occur in many ways and have a wide variety of possible consequences.   It may seem like stating the blindingly obvious, but the importance of travel insurance can’t be understated.

Travel insurance can come to the rescue for a whole host of different reasons. Many people travelling to the EU take the view that their European Health Insurance Card is enough, but that really only covers emergency treatment. It doesn’t cover things such as lost or stolen belongings, missed or late departures, cancellation or curtailment due to incidents back at home and many other circumstances. It is well worthwhile giving a few moments thought to travel insurance. Make sure you look carefully at any policy which is issued and consider whether it meets your needs.

If you’re booking an expensive holiday…

This could be a honeymoon, silver wedding or a significant birthday where the cost of the holiday is much higher than you would normally spend. Make sure you check the limits of cover for cancellation, curtailment etc are big enough.

Think about taking out insurance from the time that you book the holiday. If you book the holiday but don’t take out insurance then you have no cancellation cover until you take out the policy. If you don’t take out a policy until a week or so before you go, what happens if you have to cancel, having paid the full price several weeks before departure? You will not be covered and the likelihood is that you will lose your hard-earned money.

If you have an accident abroad…

The insurance will, hopefully, cover the cost of treatment but look carefully at any exclusions particularly if you are going on some sort of adventure or sports holiday – you may need a specialist policy as certain activities are always excluded from the mainstream policies. If you are injured in an activity which is excluded, you will not be covered. The same applies to the daredevil activities which sometimes arise on holiday such as paragliding. It may seem like a bit of fun but there is a danger and you may not be covered on your insurance policy if you are unlucky enough to suffer an injury.

If you’re unfortunate to have an accident abroad and it’s as a result of some activity arranged or covered by your tour operator then even if it involves activities managed by an outside organisation, your tour operator may be responsible if you were on a “package” holiday. Your travel insurance may include legal expenses cover to pursue such claims, but if it’s provided by the tour operator it’s likely that it will not cover claims against the tour operator itself. If you do suffer an injury in those circumstances and have a potential claim it is important to seek advice at an early stage. But you can help yourself by ensuring that you obtain as much information about the circumstances of the accident whilst you’re still abroad. Try to obtain any relevant police report, accident reports from your tour operator or hotel/organiser and the names and addresses of any witnesses. These will all help in making a successful claim.

Please remember though that even though you may have a claim against your tour operator, the standards against which liability will be assessed will be the standards in the country where the accident happens. If the supplier has complied with the local standards, it is likely that the claim will fail.

If you’re planning to hire a car…

Most hire cars come with some form of fairly basic insurance, but there will usually be a significant policy excess for any damage and the insurance will not usually cover damage to things such as tyres, windscreens and the underside of the car.  

Think about taking out additional insurance to protect yourself against such damage and excess payments. You don’t have to take out the car hirer’s own policies. There are policies available in the UK which will provide cover for such losses.

Car hire companies, particularly in Europe, seem to be keener than ever to find defects with the cars when they are returned. So take a few minutes when collecting the car to have a very good look around it and note any dents, scratches, bumps (particularly wheels) and make sure they are reported and signed before you take the car away.

Check the position with regard to fuel – should it be returned full or empty? If you’re offered the opportunity of returning the car empty, think whether or not you will actually use the full tank of fuel that comes with the car – you will get no credit for any fuel left in the car when it is returned in those circumstances.

If the car has to be returned full, ensure that when you return to the car hire depot you get an employee to confirm that the tank is full, to check that the car is undamaged and to sign your agreement or provide some confirmation that there is no damage. This makes it much easier to prevent any claims for damage/refuelling to be made and if they are made, it makes them much easier to defeat.

But the main thing is…

Make sure you have a very enjoyable time. Happy holidays!

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