Travel insurance

Forgetful Brits fall short in last-minute travel rush

19 May 2009

AA Travel Insurance

Brits thinking about last-minute trips to Europe during half-term or bank holiday breaks are forgetting insurance – and even their passports, says AA Travel Insurance.

Many tourists are taking a risk by forgetting or choosing not to take out insurance for a hop over the Channel. By booking late, they are also missing out on the best travel deals.

Last minute

According to AA Travel Insurance, more than 50% of European single trip travel insurance policies are bought within three days of departure – and frequently within hours or even minutes before they board the ferry, plane or train, suggesting families are increasingly making impromptu travel decisions.

But Christian Young, director of AA Travel Insurance, points to Foreign & Commonwealth Office figures that suggest 17% of Brits travel to Europe without any cover at all.

"People who leave things to the last minute are inevitably going to have less time to be well organised and insurance tends to be back of mind until it's too late. They are even turning up at the travel terminal without their passports," he says.

A P&O Ferries spokeswoman agreed, saying that they expect a sudden flood of last-minute bookings from people deciding to take their car over the Channel, as the bank holiday approaches. "Travel patterns have changed dramatically. Easter bookings this year were 35 per cent up on 2008 and the majority of those were arranged only days in advance – often just the day before. We are expecting a similar rush for the coming bank holiday.

"Unfortunately that means travellers may be under-prepared for their journey. For instance, every day some people turn up without their passport, which means they can't go."

Mr. Young adds: "European travel is very easy these days with the Euro as a standard currency and 'turn-up-and-go' access to Eurostar, ferries and budget airlines. But last minute travellers can find themselves badly out of pocket by missing out on advance fare deals and could miss out even more if they neglect travel cover, even for a weekend break."

Medical claims

The most common travel insurance claim is for medical problems.

"Local doctors and hospitals will sort you out but won't send you home," says Mr. Young. "Many will also charge for treatment even if you have remembered an EHIC reciprocal medical card which should never be considered a substitute for travel insurance.

"Insurance really is a no-brainer and should be top of your travel wish-list. If the worst does happen, the medical treatment will be readily available to you and, if necessary you'll be brought home for further treatment in the UK. And cover costs the same whether you book 10 weeks or 10 minutes in advance."

AA advice

  • Shop around for the best travel deals
  • Make a list of essentials: passport, travel insurance, tickets, vital baggage; lock home and garage doors and windows; don't leave keys or valuables lying around in your house; cancel the papers and milk

If you're taking your car

  • Check car tyres, fluid levels, lights – fit headlamp adjusters for driving on the right if required
  • Check what you are legally required to carry in your car: in France, this includes warning triangle, spare bulbs and reflective jackets. Headlamps must not cause dazzle to oncoming drivers. Check the AA's European motoring advice for full information
  • Check your car insurance : many insurers don't automatically extend comprehensive cover to Europe. AA car insurance includes up to 90 days in Europe, no need to tell the AA when you are travelling
  • Arrange European breakdown cover

Join the discussion in the AA zone


19 May 2009