New research from a leading industry body has found that almost a quarter of holidaymakers head abroad without travel insurance despite the cover helping thousands of people every week.

Holidaymakers still travelling without insurance despite cover helping thousands every week image
The data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has revealed that the average medical claim on a travel insurance policy in 2013 was almost £1,000 while over 4,300 people a week benefited from claiming on their travel cover.

Keep reading to find out more about this research. We also look at how you can protect yourself against travel disruption or delay due to a volcanic explosion.

4,300 people claim on their travel insurance every week

According to research from the ABI, in 2013 travel insurance helped over 4,300 people a week who needed medical treatment while abroad. These policies paid over £4 million a week to their customers, underlining the importance of taking cover before you depart.

The average cost of a travel insurance policy is just £32 while the ABI data showed that the average cost of a claim for medical expenses on a travel insurance policy last year was £930, compared to £616 in 2004.

However, despite the low cost of cover, the ABI found that one in five holidaymakers (19 per cent) risk travelling without any travel insurance. This is roughly six million people every year heading overseas without cover.

And, the study revealed that medical treatment was the most likely reason for a travel insurance claim in 2013. More people claim for hospital or medical treatment than for either cancellation of their holiday or lost and stolen money or luggage.

Aidan Kerr, Head of Travel Insurance at the ABI said: “No one expects to go holiday and have to make a claim on their travel insurance. However, unfortunately for many travellers, having something go wrong can be a very real experience.

“It can be especially traumatic when you or someone you are travelling with is taken ill or injured. Travel insurers pay out an average of £4 million every week to help to ease the stress and cushion the blow when there is a medical emergency abroad.”

How to protect yourself against volcanic delays

Back in 2010, many thousands of travellers were subject to delays after the eruption of an Icelandic volcano caused a huge ash cloud.

Since then, it has been possible to buy travel insurance that specifically covers cancellation and delay due to ash cloud disruption. If you buy this cover your insurer will generally pay for accommodation and travel expenses if your flight is delayed or cancelled due to a volcanic eruption.

However, you may not even need to claim on such a policy. In the first instance you should always contact your airline, travel agent or the airport that you are due to fly from. If your flight is cancelled airlines should offer you either a full refund of your unused ticket or an alternative flight. EU based airlines are required to offer you accommodation and meals if you are delayed in getting home to the UK.

Malcolm Tarling from the ABI says: “Travel insurance is designed to work alongside, and not duplicate, any compensation you are entitled to from your airline or tour operator. Travel insurers will respond as quickly as possible to any claims to ensure that the disruption caused to travellers is minimised.