Making Cents: CCPC sets out to bust myths about holiday insurance

I have already written about travel insurance this year, concentrating on the factors families should consider when choosing their cover and the important questions to ask about their policy.

Making Cents: CCPC sets out to bust myths about holiday insurance

I have already written about travel insurance this year, concentrating on the factors families should consider when choosing their cover and the important questions to ask about their policy.

But new research from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) found one third of Irish consumers have never had travel insurance, with some common myths contributing to the worryingly high figures.

According to the IPSOS MRBI poll, people aged 18-44 are least likely to take out travel insurance, with 43% stating they have never had a policy. Given many third-level students and young workers take their holidays later in the summer season than families, there are potentially thousands of uninsured adults planning trips in the coming months.

“Travel insurance can give you some protections if something goes wrong and can save you a lot of money in the long run,” Áine Carroll, Director of Communications and Policy in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission said.

Jonathan Hehir, Managing Director of InsureMyHoliday.ie agrees.

“One look at insurer’s claims data will tell you that, of those travellers who do have cover, many have the need to make a claim at one time or another. And while the claim might be for something relatively minor, pretty staggering claims, often to pay big medical bills in other countries, are not unusual.”

To try and minimise the numbers travelling without cover, the CCPC is debunking some myths around insurance to help people understand the costs, risks and benefits of insurance.

One of the most common of these is people who think they don’t need cover because they already have health insurance. However, while it is true private health insurance offers some protection for healthcare costs while travelling abroad, consumers need to check their individual policies as the levels of cover differ.

Hospital bills can run into thousands of euro and your private health policy could have a payment cap for healthcare provided in foreign countries. Private health insurance won’t cover extra hotel stays, meals or transport costs run up if you or a loved one fall ill abroad and also won’t cover any of the many other things that can go wrong on holiday — from delays to thefts.

The second major myth the CCPC wants to challenge is the idea that it is extremely difficult to make a claim on a travel policy. “CCPC research shows that one in ten of travellers felt they could make a claim but did not do so as they felt it would be too much hassle,” the agency said. “However, the research shows that 89% of those who did make a claim were successful, which shows that it is worth putting the effort in so you can be reimbursed.” That said, it is worth a little pre-holiday work ito know in advance what to do if things go wrong.

Insurance expert Dermot Goode says in many cases there may be a requirement to ‘register’ your claim from abroad prior to being admitted to hospital. It is worth finding out if this is the case for your policy and also how long you have to submit your claim once you return. It is also important to disclose all pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer.

The CCPC would also like to highlight another misconception, which affects those who do take out cover, the idea that you only need to book just before you go.

Instead, the agency suggests that once you have booked your holiday and have all the details of your trip, it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance from that date, rather than waiting until your travel date.

This means you may be covered if you need to cancel the holiday unexpectedly.

Mr Hehir agrees.

“Our own claims data suggests that many travel insurance claims are made because, for one reason or another, the policy holder was unable to travel,” he said.

“Which means that those holidaymakers who only take cover out at the last minute will not benefit from this financial protection in advance of their holiday – so they are not getting the full benefit of the policy.”

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