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A big rise in young holidaymakers travelling uninsured has emerged in a new study by Abta released today (Thursday).
A third (33%) of 16-24 year olds are travelling without insurance, up from 22% in 2014.
Meanwhile, 32% of 25-34 year olds are also travelling uninsured, making these two age groups the most at risk should something go wrong.
A total of one in five holidaymakers (20%) are still travelling overseas uninsured, down from 22% last year, the research found.
Confusion among young holidaymakers over what a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) offers may be partly responsible for them not taking out insurance, Abta believes.
More than one in five (22%) of 16-24 year olds believe that they do not need travel insurance because they have an EHIC.
While EHICs, which need to be renewed every five years, will give access to emergency state medical care throughout most of Europe, Abta cautions that an EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance.
EHICs will not cover the cost of repatriation to the UK in an air ambulance, private medical care or additional expenses, such as accommodation for family staying in resort.
Financial constraints may also be responsible for the increase in numbers travelling uninsured, with 30% of all respondents with children saying that cost is the principal reason they do not take out travel insurance.
But there is a growing awareness that the government will not foot the bill in a medical emergency. Only 11% now think that the government will settle their medical bills, down from 14% in 2014.
This message is also getting through to the younger generation with 16% of 16-24 year olds believing this, down from 19% in 2014, and a further 19% of 25-34 year olds, down from 23% in 2014.
Abta chief executive, Mark Tanzer, said: “It is a real concern that we see so many travellers telling us that they have recently gone overseas without travel insurance.
“Every year we come across tragic incidents of people having accidents or falling ill overseas without travel insurance and then having to pay bills which can quickly run into thousands of pounds.
“Often they are younger travellers and their families are left with the burden of having to pick up the bill.
“Whatever your financial circumstances may be, avoiding taking out travel insurance is a very false economy,” he warned.
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