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Why is it important to take out travel insurance when holidaying in France?

No travel insurance can be a pain

It is a worrying fact that more and more people are taking risks when travelling to France by not taking out travel insurance.

A quarter of those who took a holiday abroad in 2012 did not have travel insurance, according to research by the travel agents’ organisation ABTA.

This figure has gone up by a fifth since the previous year.

Male travellers are 8 per cent less likely to take out travel insurance than females and, when it comes to younger people aged between 15 and 24, almost half take a gamble by travelling without insurance.

Although insurance is not mandatory, anybody who travels without it is taking a big risk.

We cannot always guarantee that everything will go to plan and, without travel insurance, an unexpected problem can escalate into a hugely expensive nightmare.

It is not just important to have travel insurance in place in case you have an accident. Travel insurance can cover everything from the cost of cancelled holidays, cancelled flights, delayed departures, lost or damaged luggage to legal expenses and getting home if something goes wrong.

ABTA spokesman Sean Tipton strongly advises holidaymakers heading for holiday property in France that travel insurance could save them tens of thousands of pounds.

Tip

If travelling in the European Union, always take an EIHC. You can apply Free online at www.ehic.org.uk. There are companies and unofficial websites that apply on your behalf but they will charge you.

He says travel insurance should be viewed as an essential purchase and not as a luxury expenditure.

The cost that can result without travel insurance in place can reach £16,000 for people staying in France and elsewhere in Europe.

In some cases, this can involve having to be flown back to the UK in an air ambulance.

Beyond the borders of the continent, the price of an emergency flight home increase to as much as £40,000.

"One easy way to save money on that, if you're the kind of person who takes a number of trips, perhaps two or more trips a year, is to buy an annual policy," he says.

He adds that holidaymakers should look at policy excesses and the level of medical cover that is offered.

The most important reason for having insurance is if you have an accident or fall ill. In the UK, we are used to the NHS where everything is ‘free’ at the point of getting treatment but almost all other countries are not like this – you pay for treatment when you get it.

Air Ambulance

Courtesy of Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance

Make a donation to keep them flying.

Many people travelling in France and Europe get an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) thinking that this covers the cost of medical bills. The EHIC can cover some medical costs but not all and the EHIC does not cover other issues, such as the costs of getting home.

The foreign office states that, for a visit to France, the EHIC is not sufficient and that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is necessary.

Some people also decide to skip taking out travel insurance because they believe it is expensive. However, it is possible to pick up a reasonable annual insurance policy for a family for as little as £15 to £20 which is a small price to pay in comparison to the potential cost of a member of the family becoming ill or having an accident and needing to be flown home.

If you are going skiing or snowboarding in France, it would be foolhardy to travel without travel insurance. Insurance also covers you against loss, damage or theft of winter sports equipment.

Travel insurance also covers unforeseen issues such as airline insolvency and loss or theft of personal items.

So, before you are tempted to skip travel insurance, thinking that ‘it won’t happen to me’, bear in mind that in 2010, 337,000 travellers claimed on their travel insurance for medical help - that is 6,500 people or £5.3 million in costs a week.

Tip

If you are planning to do any sport (skiing etc), or a dangerous activity (bungee jumping, parascending etc) make sure this is covered or an option you can purchase. If you have an accident doing an activity that is not covered by your main policy you will not be insured – and that could be expensive.

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said: "The biggest cost if something goes wrong on your holiday will not be a lost passport, delayed flight or stolen camera: it will be the medical treatment that may be needed if you, or someone in your family, gets hurt or falls ill."

"Medical costs abroad can run into tens of thousands of pounds which makes travel insurance absolutely essential. You must disclose all previous medical conditions to make sure you are covered."

"Call your insurer to talk it through if you are not sure. All travellers should ensure that they take details of emergency medical helpline telephone numbers included in their travel policy to call for advice and help should they fall ill."

When we travel to France we currently use Protect Your Bubble (see below). Your bank account, credit card etc may include some travel insurance but check to see what is covered. We stopped using ours when we found they didn't cover damage when staying in a holiday home (small print!).

Protect Your Bubble Travel Insurance

Which? Best Buy Travel Insurance

Buy Travel Insurance at Protect Your Bubble

Protect Your Bubble travel insurance is featured in Which? Best Buy tables and offer you a choice from of policies - Economy, Standard, Premier and Premier Plus policies. Check the level of cover and the excess to be paid. We use Premier or Premier Plus depending on trip as usually an extra £10 in the fee to upgrade, limits the excess to make claiming worthwhile.

They also have specialist travel insurance for golfing and skiing breaks

Single breaks from £3.53 per person

Multi trip from £22.76 per person.

Kids (up to 17) are Free with Protect Your Bubble too - check the terms of your policy to make sure they are covered.

Protect Your Bubble also do other insurance such as Phones, Gadgets, Home, Pet etc.

If you are doing any adventurous activities, even horse riding can be classified in this category, then please make sure you have the correct cover.

Please make sure you are covered and be safe when you travel. Have a good trip.

Sources - Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), Association of British Insurers (ABI)

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