As many as two in five people (38%) - 9.9 million Brits - who travelled abroad in the past 12 months have holidayed without the right travel insurance, took part in activities which may not have been covered, or didn’t have any insurance at all, according to ABTA – The Travel Association.

The new research reveals that many British holidaymakers jetting off this year could be putting themselves at risk by travelling without the necessary travel insurance.

Breaking down the figures, more than one in five (22%) people reported travelling on some holidays completely uninsured in the past 12 months. One in four (27%) British holidaymakers have risked invalidating their insurance by not telling their insurance companies about pre-existing medical conditions or by taking part in activities without checking they were covered under the policy. An insurer can reject a claim in either of these situations.

Ahead of the summer holidays, the association is urging holidaymakers to take out travel insurance which covers their circumstances and the activities they are planning to do. This will avoid potentially costly medical bills should something go wrong.

The most common reason for not buying travel insurance was that people felt it wasn’t needed – e.g. that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) would provide sufficient cover. While it is important to have an EHIC card when travelling in Europe, the EHIC only provides access to state medical care and does not include repatriation to the UK if you are seriously ill. This can be extremely costly should you require an air ambulance, for example.

For almost one third of people who didn’t buy travel insurance (29%) cost was a barrier and just over one in seven people (15%) said that they received insurance through their bank account. ABTA is encouraging people who have travel insurance with their bank to check that it covers their requirements as there may be restrictions around age, health, destination and activities.

While the average cost of a travel insurance claim is £1,296, the cost of medical treatment or repatriation can run into thousands of pounds, leaving people extremely vulnerable abroad. Without sufficient cover, many families are having to raise money for treatment or repatriation, with some resorting to crowdfunding.

Joyce Kettle, 74, a great grandmother from Blyth, Northumberland was airlifted to hospital near Cancun having suffered from breathing difficulties on a cruise off the Mexican coast. She underwent an emergency heart operation resulting in a hospital bill of over £50,000. Joyce thought she had holiday insurance through her bank but the policy only covered her for trips in Europe. As a result, her family launched a Go Fund Me appeal to help pay for Joyce’s medical costs and bring her safely home on

Mark Tanzer, the association's chief executive, said: “Every year we see cases of people falling into difficulty due to travelling without sufficient travel insurance. While many people are still choosing not to take out travel insurance at all, others are travelling unaware that their insurance policy is not protecting them as they expect. “While not declaring existing medical conditions or taking part in activities that aren’t covered are easy mistakes to make, they can be very costly, leaving holidaymakers and their families with expensive medical bills which run into thousands of pounds. I would urge all holidaymakers to make sure they take out travel insurance and check that it covers their circumstances and holiday plans.”

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