A survey of than 2,000 UK adults found nearly two in five (38%) were yet to make arrangements to protect themselves and their families in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.
This, Abta says, amounts to around 8.6 million holidaymakers who could be left to foot substantial medical or repatriation costs if they fall ill or injure themselves overseas.
The association’s research found 21% of holidaymakers had travelled without insurance over the past year. And of these people, more than a third (37%) said they didn’t think the needed travel insurance while more than a quarter (28%) said it was a risk they were willing to take.
Abta has teamed up wth the Foreign Office to encourage travellers to take out insurance as soon as they book their holiday and ensure they have their policy numbers and details of their insurer to hand at all times while they are away.
Together, they are warning costs arising from a lack of insurance or the wrong cover could potentially total hundreds of thousands of pounds.
More than a third of respondents (34%) who have had to pay an additional cost on holiday due to being uninsured or having the wrong cover said the cost to them ranged from £500 to £4,000.
Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “Millions of holidaymakers are heading off abroad each year either without the right travel insurance in place – or without any insurance at all. This leaves people at risk of having to pay significant medical costs or even facing delays in their treatment.
“Our message is clear – don’t take the risk, take out travel insurance and make sure it covers you for your circumstances and holiday plans.
“It’s also really important holidaymakers carry a copy of their insurance on them at all times, as well as leaving a copy with family or friends back home. That way they’ll be able to contact their insurer quickly and without hassle, should they need to.”
Julia Longbottom, director of consular services at the Foreign Office, added: “Most people enjoy trouble-free holidays overseas. However, I am concerned by these new figures showing many British holidaymakers continue to travel without insurance. The risks are very clear.
“You could find yourself paying out thousands of pounds in medical bills if you don’t have insurance. It’s important to know the FCO cannot help fund medical bills if you or a family member are taken ill or hospitalised when abroad.
“Make sure you take out a travel insurance policy that meets your personal needs so you know you are covered should anything happen, and you can focus on having a relaxing holiday.”
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