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Saga finds risky Brits shun travel insurance for EHIC

04 August 2009 / by Rachael Stiles

British holidaymakers are shunning travel insurance and relying on their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) this summer, research from Saga has revealed.

Nearly one in ten Brits who are heading abroad for their holiday this year admit that they are only taking an EHIC with them and are not protecting themselves with travel insurance, even though this only covers the cost of emergency medical treatment.

With the majority of these travelling within the EU, they trust that the EHIC card will provide any medical treatment they might require whilst on holiday, without considering the potential for cancellations, lost luggage, or any other circumstance not covered by the EHIC.

One of the most expensive potential costs of falling ill whilst in a foreign country is repatriation, which can cost thousands, so Saga is urging holidaymakers to consider taking crucial cover with them when they travel.

For example, according to Saga's research, repatriation from France or Spain costs around £1,500, or more than £12,000 if repatriation by air ambulance is required, whilst from North America it costs £12,000, or as much as £45,000 by air ambulance.

The survey also found that the over 50s are more likely to have an annual travel insurance policy, with more than a third opting for this measure, but five per cent of the over 50s intend to go abroad without any travel insurance in place this year, compared to nine per cent of under 50s.

Despite the recession putting a squeeze on many retirees incomes, Saga has seen a 13 rise in the number of over 50s travel insurance plans being taken out, and more than half of over 50s have plans to travel to Europe.

A significant number of over 50s are planning a 'staycation' this year, opting for a holiday in the UK, but just because they're not leaving the country does not mean that they should overlook the importance of travel insurance, Saga warns, as it can offer valuable protection for those staying in this country.

The survey found that 87 per cent of Brits deem travel insurance unnecessary for trips within the UK, with four per cent wrongly believing that they home insurance will cover their belongings, Saga says.

While medical expenses are not a concern in the UK, cancellations are the second highest reason for travel insurance claims, costing an average £2,010, which could still affect travellers sticking to the British Isles this summer.

Andrew Goodsell, executive chairman at Saga Group, said: "When travelling within Europe, and even within the UK, holidaymakers should ensure they have adequate travel insurance in place before departing, to provide sound cover and peace of mind.

"A good travel insurance policy will ensure you are not only covered for medical expenses, but will also provide repatriation back to the UK and cancellation cover should your holiday be cut short."

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