Almost half of British holidaymakers have travelled abroad without insurance - with 20% of 18-24 year olds never buying into holiday cover, according to TravelSupermarket.
With security still an ongoing concern for many UK families, European destinations are expected to be more popular than ever this summer as consumers switch to ‘safer havens’ - but only half of us will consider cover for travel delays, stolen baggage and medical emergencies - relying heavily on the EHIC card for backup.
When it comes to heading off on a European beach break, women are slightly more cautious, with 59% ‘always’ buying insurance, whereas only 4% of men cover themselves.
Meanwhile, young people are the most care free, with 20% having never purchased insurance - despite this being the peak age group for skiing breaks and backpackers.
Travel firm HolidayExtras.co.uk has exposed worrying disparities between the perceived and the real costs of holiday healthcare, as well as confusion over what the EHIC card actually entitles travellers to.
When asked to predict the cost of medical treatment for a heart attack and repatriation to the UK from Spain, those polled estimated the cost to be £14,278 against an actual average cost of £25,000.
Ant Clarke Cowell, Communications Director at HolidayExtras, explains: “Travel insurance is often overlooked as an unnecessary purchase but healthcare is expensive, and in the event of illness or accidents holidaymakers can be dumped with unaffordable fees.
"Nearly one in ten (8%) thinks the EHIC card covers the cost of repatriation flights in case of medical emergencies, whilst 15% incorrectly believes the EHIC card entitles the holder to free private emergency medical care in European Economic Area (EEA) countries."
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket adds: “It would seem that many of us are lulled into a false sense of security closer to home, possibly believing that the EHIC scheme covers you within Europe. However, these cards only cover some medical bills.
"You will still end up with an expensive bill for many treatments and you have no cover in place for other problems," he adds.
Many providers will offer 'risky cover' designed for high-risk holidays - like skiing, hiking or trekking, however, if you're jetting for seven days in the sun, it's unlikely you'll be encountering any snow - so you can opt out.
Consider what valuables you're taking with you - a bargain £7 deal won't protect £10k's worth of golfing gear. Likewise, watch out for 'single item' limits - as if you're travelling with valuables, you won't be fully protected.
Which? recommends travel policies should cover medical expenses of at least £2m (Europe) or £5m (worldwide); at least £3,000 for cancellation; and at least £1,500 for baggage and belongings cover.
To help you find the right policy for your type of trip, MoneySupermarket has a handy quote finder.
Many current accounts will include some form of cover abroad - but double check what's covered and make sure it's sufficient to your trip.
Older people aged 65+ are the most worried about this, with 63% of this group citing it as their primary concern, when travelling abroad.
Medical claims and emergencies abroad are one of the biggest costs to insurance companies. This is why some insurers will offer millions of pounds worth of cover to pay for things like hospital treatment and emergency repatriation.
Basic and often cheap policies will not cover travellers over the age of 65 or 70 - despite good health. These policies are also unlikely to cover any pre-existing medical conditions, regardless of whether you declare them upfront.
When shopping for a policy, be open about any ongoing medical conditions and answer questions honestly. Some insurers may then agree to cover certain conditions for a small extra premium or, guide you to a specialist provider. Either way, you'll be able to travel with peace of mind.
GoCompare has a handy guide on how to find travel insurance with medical conditions included - and a list of specialist providers to try if you require more extensive support.
If you fall ill abroad, the last thing you want to be hit by is an excess that you can't actually afford.
The excess is the pre-agreed amount the policy holder will have to pay in the event of a claim. For example, if you make a claim for £300, you may have to pay £100 upfront, and the insurer will pay out £200. The higher the excess, the cheaper your policy - but, always make sure it's an amount affordable to you.
Some providers like John Lewis Travel Insurance will offer a 'waiver excess' which means you won't have to pay any excess in the event of a claim - but your insurance will be higher.
If you travel more than 2-3 times a year, it may be cheaper for you to opt for annual multi-trip cover.
With annual insurance, you'll be covered for a number of trips within a 12 month period, giving you the peace of mind you need on those all important breaks.
If you do decide to opt for annual multi-trip travel insurance, then make sure you check how many days come under your ‘maximum trip duration’ - as this can vary from 4-31 days.
Aviva offers 20% off when you take out multi-trip travel insurance online, or you can get a multi-trip quote with Confused.com. Always make sure you compare across comparison websites, as not all sites will cover the same policies.
If you're booking through a travel agent, tour operator or airline, it's likely they'll try to sell you travel insurance as an 'add on'.
Don't sign up before you've done your own research - as a lot of the time these policies will in fact cost you more. Compare across comparison websites like:
This will protect them if they have to extend their trip whilst you receive treatment.
It's common to leave travel insurance to the last minute - however, if you're trip is cancelled or delayed, you could end up out of pocket.
It's best to book your travel insurance around the same time as your break - this way, you'll be protected in the run up to your holiday should anything go wrong.
If you're worried about flight cancellations - or there have been cancellations on your route in the past, make sure your policy covers it - and check the pay-out amount.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket says: "Every traveller should take out insurance from the moment they book.
"Ensuring you have a decent level of cover and don't just pick the cheapest options you will then have a safety net to protect you.
"From cancellation before you even get away through to what can be eye watering medical costs running into the thousands, you can make sure that what is a holiday is not ruined by the failure to look after yourself.”
It's not uncommon for airlines to go bust - and if you're booking well in advance, make sure you have adequate airline failure cover in place just in case anything goes wrong in the run up to your journey.
If the airline goes out business before you fly, the money you've paid may not be covered by standard travel insurance.
Look out for 'airline failure insurance' - or Safi for short. Some insurers, such as Marks & Spencer, now include this cover as standard but make sure you check the small print.
You can read more about Safi cover at GoCompare here.
Remember, if you buy your flight by credit card then you are covered under the Consumer Credit Act for purchases between £100 and £3,000. If it's a package holiday, check whether your tour operator is ATOL-protected – this will enable you to reclaim any money lost or be refunded if you need to make alternative travel arrangements.
According to HolidayExtras.co.uk, 15% of Brits believe the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card entitles the holder to free private emergency medical care in the European Economic Area (EEA) - this is not the case.
It does not cover:
How can I get a card? You can download and apply for an EHIC card on the NHS website here - beware of fraudulent websites - always make sure you're applying through the official website.