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Intrepid travellers warned to do their homework before exploring new destinations

20 April 2016

Abu Dhabi, China and Iran named by ABTA as “destinations to watch” in 2016

Gocompare.com Travel Insurance is urging travellers heading to unfamiliar destinations to plan ahead and make sure they know the laws of and have the required travel documents and inoculations for the country they are visiting.

Intrepid travellers are also warned not to assume that all hotels, retailers and ATMs in the country they are visiting will accept international credit cards or travellers’ cheques. 

The warning comes as ABTA’s 2016 Travel Trends report shows that 18% of British holidaymakers are planning to travel to a country they’ve never been to before. The report, which was compiled in association with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, identified 12 destinations that are expected to capture the public’s imagination in 2016 including; Abu Dhabi, China, Hawaii, Iran, Peru and Sri Lanka.*

Alex Edwards from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance commented, “Travelling to far-flung, exotic places is becoming easier and more accessible thanks to low cost air operators and the availability of more direct flights. But, the culture, laws and criminal justice systems of some of the destinations highlighted by ABTA’s report are very different to the UK. So, it is crucial tourists understand and respect the local traditions, customs, laws of the country they are visiting to ensure they don’t cause offence or act illegally. Otherwise, the penalties can be severe.

“Travel insurance, which covers medical expenses, lost baggage and documents, cancellation and delays is also a must for any trip abroad. But, insurers will expect you to take care of yourself and your possessions and, not behave recklessly or illegally. So, for example, if you’re heading to an area which has life-threatening infectious diseases you need to make sure you have the right vaccinations. Otherwise, if you fall ill with a disease for which you haven’t been vaccinated against or taken the required medicine - your insurance may not cover your medical treatment.”

Alex Edwards continued, “Money is another important consideration. Some countries like China, are mainly cash economies with limited use of ATMs and credit cards. Not all shops, restaurants and hotels in Peru accept international credit cards or travellers’ cheques and, in Sri Lanka travellers’ cheques aren’t normally accepted.”

“While most travel policies include cover for money, cover limits, excesses and exclusions vary considerably. So, if you need to travel with a large amount of cash, you need to make sure you buy a travel policy which has the appropriate cover.”   

Money and Documents

The majority of travel insurance policies provide cover for the accidental loss of, theft of or damage to personal money and documents (such as a passport or driving licence).

It is your responsibility to have the correct visas for the country you are visiting and to make sure that your passport is valid. In certain countries your passport must be valid for six months after the date you travel. For example, if you plan to holiday in China, your passport should be valid for at least six months from the date of your visa application. Travel insurers typically exclude cover for incorrect or invalid travel documents.

Insurers generally cap the amount they will pay-out for cash to between £200 and £500**. They apply special conditions in relation to claims involving the loss of or theft of money. Typically these may include keeping it safely on your person or in a locked safe or safety deposit box. There will also be stipulations regarding the reporting of any losses.

Medical

Travel insurance won’t cover claims for medical treatment as a result of a pre-existing condition you’ve failed to declare or treatment for diseases which you forgot to get vaccinated against. So when applying for insurance be honest about any health problems you have. Take the time to research the health risks of your holiday destination and make sure that you visit your doctor to get the necessary vaccinations and/or medication.

Alcohol and hazardous activities

Travel insurers typically exclude claims made as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, reckless behaviour and taking part in activities they deem ‘hazardous’.   

Most insurers** (99%) provide some cover for leisure activities – which can include banana boating, horse riding, parasailing, cycling or white-water rafting. But, the number and types of activities covered varies widely between policies. If you’re planning any leisure activities when abroad, you should read your travel insurance terms and conditions to make sure you’re covered and ensure you comply with any safety rules. For example, some policies may only cover activities, such as scuba diving, if they are organised from the UK.

For more information see Gocompare.com's guide on travel insurance.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors:

*ABTA’s Travel Trends Report 2016, in association with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office: ‘12 destinations to watch’ for 2016: Abu Dhabi, Canada, China – the Silk Road, France, Hawaii (USA), Iceland, Iran, Naples and Apulia (Italy), Peru, Poland, Queensland (Australia) and Sri Lanka.

**Defaqto Matrix of 749 annual travel insurance policies - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto (04 April 2016). 70% of policies have a maximum cash limit of between £200 and £500. 99% provide some cover for leisure activities.