When do you think a trip abroad becomes ‘too short’ to bother with travel insurance? A few days? A weekend? A day?
According to this recent survey of travel trends amongst UK and European travellers, just over half of people (55%) would still buy travel insurance for a day trip from the UK to France. Now, depending on which side of the travel insurance debate you sit on, that figure might shock you.
If you are in the ‘we never claim on travel insurance, why do we need it’ camp, you might be amazed that so many people would still buy it, even for a day trip. If you believe that travel insurance is an absolute necessity, on the other hand, and that you would have to be crazy to take a risk travelling abroad without it, you might be equally surprised that close to half of people wouldn’t bother.
So which side is right? Is there really any need to buy travel insurance just for a day trip to a neighbouring country?
Travel insurance basics
The official advice is that you should always take out appropriate travel insurance whenever you head abroad, no matter how short the trip is. But if you have spent years and years buying travel insurance and have never made a claim, you might well question why – especially for a flying visit.
People tend to think of travel insurance in terms of things like cover for lost luggage, theft of personal items, transport cancellations and so on. And they quite rightly question just how big the risk from these occurrences is on short trips – how much luggage are you really going to take? Won’t your personal belongings be covered by your home contents insurance anyway? And if your train or ferry is cancelled – won’t you just be put on the next one?
What sometimes gets overlooked is that the main purpose of travel insurance – or at least the most significant financial protection it offers you – is to cover the potential cost of medical care while you are abroad. Again, you may think that the risks of having an accident or falling ill on a short trip are minimal. But if something does go wrong and you end up in hospital in another country, the costs could be sky high.
For UK and European travellers, the EHIC card also sometimes lulls people into a false sense of security. The EHIC entitles every EU citizen to whatever state-subsidised healthcare is available in another EU member state they are visiting. So, say you get rushed to hospital on your day trip to France – instead of being charged at private care rates, you will be entitled to the same free emergency care French citizens get.
However, this is not a complete safety net. If you are too ill to travel home independently and need to be ‘medically repatriated’, for example, you or your family would be expected to pay for this. Without travel insurance, you would end up being hit with a big bill. And lots of people assume the EHIC card is automatic – but if you haven’t registered for it, you are not entitled to its terms and conditions.
Travel insurance for short trips
Another issue that potentially puts people off getting travel insurance for a short trip is simply the hassle of having to buy it. Although nowadays you can search for and buy a policy in a matter of minutes on your laptop or phone, it is still one more thing to remember to do.
Perhaps the best solution if you are the sort of person who takes a lot of short weekend breaks and day trips to neighbouring countries is to buy annual multi-trip insurance. This means you only have to remember to buy a policy once a year, and when you have done, you can rest assured you are covered for every type of trip you take for the next 12 months, long and short.