Ask Bamboo: Is travel insurance worth it

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There are few things that can kill the ‘we’re going on holiday’ buzz faster than talk of travel insurance (packing comes a close second).

One minute you’re dreaming of evening walks along the beach, grabbing coffee in a local café or sipping a cocktail looking out over the views, the next you’re thinking about ‘what if something goes wrong?’.

Which leads many people to wonder: ‘do I really need travel insurance?’.

And they have a good point – every year, people take out travel insurance and never use it. (Which is a good thing, because it means things went without a hitch!)

But this can easily lead to the idea that it’s better to go without travel insurance. Sometimes, in some circumstances, the risk might pay off. But most cases, the consequences of skipping it to save a few quid are pretty heavy on the wallet.

A few statistics about travel insurance from 2016

Taken from

  • Last year, insurers paid out £365 million – the equivalent of £1 million a day – to 494,000 individuals and families who needed help when they were abroad.
  • The main cost of claims was for emergency medical treatment, with insurers paying out over £196 million to cover travellers’ medical expenses and repatriation. More than 166,000 travellers claimed for medical treatment.
  • An annual travel insurance policy costs an average of just £33, while the average medical expenses claim was more than £1,200, and average cancellation claim £800. (This is a pretty compelling argument for getting travel insurance.)
  • In total, insurers also paid out £128 million to 160,000 individuals and families to cover the cost of cancelling their holiday. (Holiday cancellations are something that are often not considered when looking for insurance.)
  • Insurers paid £16 million to 87,000 people to cover the cost of lost baggage and money whilst travelling.

For more eye-opening statistics, check out this infographic from GOV.UK.

Bamboo’s tips:

In our opinion, you should always travel with travel insurance. Not only are the risks of going without insurance not worth it – for example, compare the small charge of £33 for insurance to the eye-watering £1,200 if you get a minor illness (and a significantly more eye-watering amount if you’re injured and require a procedure or emergency assistance) – but the insurance covers you for things other than your health too: lost baggage, stolen money and cancellations.

Not only that, but there’s an added bonus of getting insurance: peace of mind. You can go on holiday and not worry how you’re going to afford it if something goes wrong, but – in the worst-case scenario – if something goes wrong you aren’t going to have a huge bill to pay when you get home.

And, if your wallet is stolen or your bags are lost, you can carry on your holiday without much of hitch in the knowledge that it was insured and you’ll get it back (or be able to claim it back, at least).

‘But travel insurance is expensive!’

In some cases, travel insurance can sting a bit. However, we’ve put together some advice to help save the pennies (and make sure you’re fully covered) before you start to pack.

Tip #1: Shop around

Use price comparison sites to make sure you’re getting the best deal. However, make sure you’re checking to get the cheapest policy that’s right for you, not the cheapest policy overall. (In other words, make sure you’re covered for all of the right stuff.)

Tip #2: Take advantage of the EHIC

Before you leave, make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you’re travelling in Europe – it’ll give you access to state-provided healthcare. (Although, you still need insurance.)

Tip #3: Make sure you declare everything about your health

The last thing you want is for your insurer not to pay out because you failed to declare a condition. (Even if this costs a few extra pound, it’s better than thinking you’re insured and then getting a hefty bill.)

Tip #4: Check the Foreign Office travel advice

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has travel advice for everywhere you could possibly visit – check that out before you leave so you can travel safe.

Tip #5: Stay safe

Holidays are a great excuse to kick back and relax. However, 82% of Brits admit to engaging in more dangerous behaviour when abroad. (Remember, travel insurance often doesn’t cover alcohol-related injuries.)

By all means, kick back, have fun and unwind. Just stay safe and keep an eye out for danger.

For more ways to save money when you’re travelling, check out our 17 Ways to Travel on a Budget. (Or, if you’re trying to find out about funding your holiday, check out our guide on that instead.)

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