According to one recent survey, two in five Brits have no plans to buy travel insurance when they go on holiday this summer.
That’s a worrying statistic for several reasons, but also surprising. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite overall sales figures being down for the simple fact that fewer people have been travelling, the percentages of holidaymakers buying travel insurance have been well up on previous norms.
And with very good reason. With so much uncertainty around travel, people have been keenly aware of the need to protect the financial investment a holiday represents. A change in travel advice, a new outbreak or lockdown in your destination, or a positive test, and that’s it, your holiday could be over.
Or, just as costly, you get stuck self-isolating or unable to get home from your destination.
What all of these scenarios underline is that, when there is a threat of disruption around travel, insurance makes more sense than ever. Missing out on a holiday or having it badly disrupted is bad enough. You don’t need to risk being out of pocket as well.
Which is why those figures about the number of people who aren’t planning on buying travel insurance is so surprising. Because most COVID-related travel restrictions may have been lifted, and mass tourism is very much open again. But that doesn’t mean all the risks and uncertainties around going abroad on holiday have gone away.
In fact, given the recent high-profile issues at airports, there’s a good argument to say that there are even more risks in planning a holiday abroad at the moment than last year – or at least just as many.
So if you were planning on skipping holiday insurance when you travel abroad this year, we’d urge you to reconsider. Here are three very good reasons why you need to make insurance a priority for your holiday.
Cancellations remain a very real risk
Fewer and fewer travellers are having to take COVID tests as part of the entry conditions when travelling to other countries. So this reduces the risk of having to scrap your holiday plans because of a positive test.
But cancellations remain a very real threat for other reasons. Airlines and airports are facing critical staff shortages post pandemic, having been forced to lay so many workers off when travel was all but ground to a halt. Struggling to cope with demand, thousands of flights are being cancelled to try to reduce the burden.
If your flight is cancelled, you should either be offered a refund or an alternative. But that doesn’t help if you’ve already paid for accommodation up front, not to mention car hire and other costs. The risk of losing out on other things you’ve paid for, including transport to the airport or car parking, is higher the later the cancellation occurs. To protect yourself from all potential losses, travel insurance is your safest bet.
Don’t discount COVID
It’s true that many countries have lifted the requirement to take a COVID test before you travel, if you are fully vaccinated at least. But that doesn’t mean the risk of COVID ruining your holiday plans has disappeared completely.
With cases reportedly rising again, there’s no guarantee you won’t fall unlucky and get ill just before you travel. Or you might be in a job where regular testing is still required. If you aren’t fully vaccinated, meanwhile, there’s a good chance you’ll still have to take a COVID test to prove you are negative before you get into most countries.
The other thing that rising cases throws up is the chance of catching COVID while abroad. This throws up the prospect of having to isolate in your accommodation, potentially having to pay for an extension and missing your flight home. That can end up being very expensive. Travel insurance protects you against these sorts of costs, as well as losses from a cancelled holiday.
Guard against lost luggage
Some of the most acute staff shortages being experienced by airports are in baggage handlers. A shortage of workers to move large volumes of luggage from check-in halls onto planes has been a major cause of the delays experienced at airports across the UK and Europe.
The chaos has also led to luggage taking hours to make it onto reclaim carousels on arrival, or else be piled up with luggage from other flights and left. Some holidaymakers have reported their luggage disappearing completely.
Passengers have been advised to only take carry-on bags on flights to avoid such issues. But that’s not much help if you are heading on a two-week family holiday with children. If you have no choice but take hold luggage with you, you’d be strongly advised to take out travel insurance to cover the cost of the contents (and the suitcases themselves) in case anything does go missing.