Why Regulate Bundled Travel Insurance?

 By: Onome Okwuosa
Do you have the necessary travel insurance that will safe guard both you and your loved ones if the unthinkable happens? Before you categorically answer yes, is it one that has been FSA approved not one that has simply been tacked onto your package holiday offering limited superficial perks?

Most assume travel insurance is to cover you against loss of your sunglasses and at the worst theft; realistically speaking they are the least of your worries which is why so many choose to not to take insurance out as they rationalise, ‘hey I’ll just buy new ones’! A more realistic approach needs to be taken when it comes to your travel insurance, such an essential item should cover you across the board, from accidental damage to accidental breakage of one’s body parts! All it takes is a slip, fall and before you know it you are being ‘siren-screeched’ down to the nearest hospital under the assumption that every country has a blessed NHS-style health policy to cover the costs.

On arrival at the hospital in agonising pain the last thing you’ll be expecting is some pushy nurse thrusting a clip-board with reams of paper attached, each requesting a signature proving you have the funds to pay for treatment before they take you through to see the doctors to fix your ankle which is now the size of a balloon! Surely this is not the way you anticipated your holiday going, closing your eyes you have a flashback of the holiday salesperson explaining the numerous benefits of travel insurance, how most standalone providers will give you a massive £1million pounds of health cover when in Europe and £2 million for the rest of the world. You recall her mentioning something about theft and loss and it was at that point hat you switched off, tuning her out as she told you how beneficial the funds would be in the event of an emergency.

It was only when she moved on to talking about the cheaper bolt-on option which could be attached to your package holiday that your ears pricked up. It seems once an expensive standalone product is offered people switch off, you offer them a cheaper alternative and they’re all ears again! Not paying any attention to the differences and only hearing the similarities, like the cover of a lost wallet or a broken pair of sunglasses. Rather than paying attention to the cover’s shortcomings and failings you signed on the dotted line, proud of yourself for taking out travel insurance at all! No longer patting yourself on the back your mind is racing as you are forced to ponder on your options, do you really want to compromise on your health by getting the cheapest type of product on offer, which will usually mean leaving the hospital again, your foot now the size of a football and travelling to the free clinic which has a full day’s waiting time regardless of the severity of your symptoms!

Unfortunately this has been the reality for a whopping “10 million Britons who travelled abroad last year”, who were mistakenly thought they had sufficient travel insurance only to realise that the cover they had taken out alongside their flights and accommodation did not adequately cover them for “medical expenses” which can cost tens of thousands for a simple broken bone and up to hundreds of thousands if you require immediate complex surgery. Don't forget the pricey administrative costs that are associated with hospital treatment and yes you do have to pay for the ambulance ride to the hospital as well!

The tour operators supposedly offering this ‘cheaper’ alternative on closer inspection have been cited by customers as being over priced, for the cover they are offering in comparison to their supposedly expensive standalone is significantly inferior. Knowing that “about a third of travel insurance sold” in the UK “is bundled in with holiday packages usually by flight companies and tour operators” causes concern for the individual insurance companies as they are taking advantage of a huge section of the market which invariably casts a shadow over all travel insurance providers regardless of their credibility and reliability.
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