The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has revealed that the number of travel insurance claims made in 2017 increased by 30,000 year-on-year to 510,000, costing £385 million, amounting to one claim every minute throughout the year. This is the highest amount paid since the £455 million Icelandic ash cloud payouts of 2010 and was largely driven by a significant rise in cancellation claims.

After a slight (£2m) increase, medical expenses still make up a majority of the £385 million claims paid. They continue to be the most expensive type of claim, with an average of nearly £1,300 and many climbing to the tens of thousands of pounds.

The significant increase in cancellation claims was driven by notable airline disruption, restrictive bad weather at home and abroad, as well as the cost of the average family holiday increasing by more than £500 in 2017 according to some estimates. This further highlights the importance of buying your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday – not at the last minute.

Commenting on the latest statistics, the ABI’s Policy Adviser for Travel, Charlie Campbell, said: “Travel insurance acts as your guardian angel when overseas and should be an essential element of your holiday shopping list. Insurers are paying out £1 million every day to cover the unexpected costs of illness, injury or cancellation.

“Medical expenses can often cost tens of thousands of pounds, whilst the large increase in cancellation claims shows just how important it is to purchase your cover as early as possible. Our question to consumers today is: can you afford to not have travel insurance?”


Tips to make sure you are covered against the unexpected when travelling abroad:


Shop around. Travel insurance policies vary to suit different needs so it’s essential to shop around and know that the cheapest policy may not cover all that you need.

Get an EHIC. Make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling in Europe. It is free and gives you access to state-provided healthcare available to a resident. However, it is not a substitute for having travel insurance as it will not cover all medical costs or the cost of emergency repatriation back to the UK.

Take care and stay safe. Holidays should be fun and relaxing but take care and act responsibly. Drink alcohol responsibly, check safety before taking part in any activity and follow laws and customs. Generally, travel insurance policies will not cover accidents if someone has not taken reasonable care or had excessive amounts of alcohol.

Check FCO advice. Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice and information pages for your destination before you travel.

Declare any medical conditions upfront. Tell your insurer about any medical conditions when you take out a travel insurance policy. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, specialist insurers can help find the right cover for you – or speak to a broker. *

Know how to contact your insurer if you need to. Make sure you take note of your insurer’s emergency phone number. If something happens when you’re on holiday and you need to make a claim, call your insurer first.


* Asprey Harris can source specialist medical insurance on your behalf. We offer policies from the whole of the market with comprehensive cover for medical costs, baggage, liability and cancellation. Visit our on-line travel insurance site at cover4travel or call us for advice on specific medical cover.