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Why travelling without insurance is a bad idea

Planning a holiday is an exciting time. Thoughts naturally turn to the sights we’ll see, the food we’ll try and of course, what the weather will be like. We don’t tend to consider the things that could go wrong. While mishaps are unlikely, the consequences of events taking a turn for the worse while we’re away from home can be serious and far-reaching.

In fact, the outcomes of not being insured are potentially so extreme that some countries, including Cuba, won’t accept travellers without travel insurance cover.

We believe travel insurance should be an automatic part of holiday preparation, much like picking up your passport or packing your suitcase. There are a multitude of reasons why travelling without the protection travel insurance provides is simply not worth the risk, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or disability.

Travel insurance costs vs the price of being uninsured

It can be tempting to think about saving money on travel insurance costs, or by not declaring the existing health conditions you may have in order to receive a cheaper quote. But saving the relatively low cost of a travel insurance policy that covers your unique health needs can pale in comparison to what being uninsured or inadequately insured can cost you.

Healthcare is not free in many parts of the world. Having to access medical care, particularly in the event of an emergency, can be incredibly expensive. We shared some of the most extreme medical travel insurance claims in our recent blog, but the table below helps to illustrate just how costly a health emergency abroad can be:

What happened and where?What treatment and/or extra measures were needed?What was the cost?
A stroke while on holiday in the USATreatment in hospital and an air ambulance back to the UK£760,000
A stomach bug while on holiday in the USATreatment in hospital and return flights back to the UK £100,000
A moped accident in GreeceSurgery and repatriation back to the UK£25,000
A fall in Spain causing a broken hipHospital treatment and flights back to the UK£15,000

Sources: The Foreign & Commonwealth Office,

Claims this large are rare, but these cases show the extent of the financial burdens that could occur in a worst-case scenario. It can also be easy to forget that the cost of having a medical issue while overseas may have knock-on effects not directly linked to the treatment itself. A prolonged stay in hospital may mean that you cannot return home as planned, leading to alternative travel being required, such as expensive last minute flights.

Of course, aside from cover for treatment and repatriation expenses, travel insurance is there to ensure you receive the care you need. Regardless of how much a claim may cost, the most important consideration while you’re on holiday is your health, and a good travel insurance provider should be on hand with help and advice any time of the day or night.

Being uninsured can have serious consequences

In some rare cases, the consequences of travelling without travel insurance can even go beyond financial risk, putting the traveller in a situation they could never have imagined.

Our specialist medical travel insurance manager, Mary Holt, recalls a case of an elderly lady who fell ill whilst on a holiday in Spain. Prior to her trip she had contacted us for a travel insurance quote but hadn’t taken out the policy. A Spanish hospital treated her but when they could find no evidence of travel insurance with or without medical cover, her passport was taken until the treatment could be paid for. The staff at the care home where she lived got in touch with us having found her quote paperwork, but sadly, without a policy in place, there was nothing we could do, other than to refer the care home team to the British Embassy.

This instance is a reminder just how important it is to ensure your medical travel insurance policy is in place before you set off.

Make sure friends and family are covered too

Thankfully, Free Spirit can make it simple to ensure you, your family and friends – indeed anyone you’re planning to travel with – are all covered by travel insurance ahead of a trip away. We can cover your entire travelling party on your specialist travel insurance policy, even if they do not have existing health conditions or disabilities. With cover for the whole party, you will all benefit from the many protections and features of our travel insurance, including emergency medical, repatriation cover and personal accident cover. Crucially, should you need to cancel the trip due to ill health, the whole party will be covered for money already spent on your travel plans, such as accommodation and flights*.  This is unlikely to be the case if everyone is insured on different policies.

We hope that wherever your travels take you, you never need to rely on your specialist travel insurance. But, if you do, the cost of travel insurance could be the best money you’ve ever spent. Get a quote for medical travel insurance today, by applying online or giving our friendly, UK-based team a call on 02392 419 080.

*Cover is subject to the terms, conditions and limits of the insurance policy.

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