ABTA is warning holidaymakers about the dangers of travelling overseas without travel insurance as new research reveals that 22% of people now travel abroad uninsured.

Alarmingly, the number of people who stated that they had taken an overseas trip without travel insurance in 2014 has risen from 19% in 2013 - a worrying trend driven by younger travellers with more than a third (35%) of 16-24 year olds and 36% of 25-34 year olds saying that didn’t take out insurance.

The association found that younger people are significantly more likely to risk travelling overseas without insurance, with 19% of 16-24 year olds and 23% of 25-34 year olds believing that the Government will pay for their treatment. Other reasons for not taking out insurance included relying on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), simply not wanting to spend money on insurance and the cost of taking out travel insurance. With comprehensive annual policies available from £60 and the potential for medical costs to run into thousands of pounds, the association says that this is very much a false economy.

Since regulations around the sale of travel insurance as an ancillary product were introduced by the previous Government in 2007, ABTA research has demonstrated that consumer take-up of insurance has declined markedly and there is no evidence that consumers have benefited from increased regulation.

As such, the association continues to argue for the relaxation of the regulations and is asking the Government to review its position. It also recently submitted a consultation response to the Treasury calling for the regulation to be repealed and continues to work with the Tourism Minister, her officials and the Financial Conduct Authority, as the industry regulator, to examine ways in which the burdens placed on the industry when selling insurance could be reduced so that insurance is more readily available at the point of sale.

Mark Tanzer, the association's chief executive, said: “It is a worrying trend that we are seeing an increase in the number of people travelling overseas uninsured. Younger travellers are driving this increase through a mixture of misunderstandings and a desire to save money. ABTA and its members have expressed concerns that the regulations mean fewer travel businesses are selling insurance at the point of sale, and ultimately this appears to have resulted in fewer holidaymakers taking out the appropriate insurance. We will continue to make our members’ views clear to Government. In the meantime, we urge members to familiarise themselves with their rights and responsibilities in informing customers about travel insurance.”

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