Gap year insurance claims are rising

Gap_year_insurance

Gap year insurance claims up 61%

News 22 September 2010.

Gap year student claims rocket in past six months with medical costs rising 52% and value of claims up 658%.

This information comes from travel insurer, EssentialTravel.co.uk. These statistics are difficult to interpret, but the short history of many of these insurance policies might be partially responsible.

One suggestion is the popularity of adventure sports.

The number of travel insurance claims made by gap year students has increased by more than half compared to a year earlier, according to one insurer.

Travel insurance providers EssentialTravel.co.uk said the number of claims on their backpacker insurance policy leapt by 61.4% from December 2009 and May 2010 compared to the same period a year earlier.

Medical expenses accounted for 52.4% of claims and 18.4% for personal effects. The average value per claim also rocketed in a year, from £77 per claim to £584 per claim, an increase of 658%.

Stuart Bensusan, of EssentialTravel.co.uk, said: “It’s logical that medical expenses would account for a high proportion of claims from backpackers when you consider the growth in popularity of adventure sports activities among gappers, such as bungee jumping, sky diving, skiing and white-water rafting.”

More than 50% of claims originated in Asia and Australia. A spokeswoman for Essential Travel said this was because of the more relaxed regulation of the more dangerous sports in comparison with Europe and the US. She said one of the most common and costly claims is riding a motorbike in Asian countries, which does not require people to wear protective clothing and is treated as a hazardous sport by insurers.

Bensusan said backpackers these days travelled with higher value items. Laptops, iPods and smart phones explain why there were more claims for personal effects and a higher average value per claim.

“It is unnerving, particularly for parents, to hear that claims from backpackers encountering mishaps abroad are on the rise, but it goes to show how important it is for them to take out adequate insurance before they leave,” he said.

“Preparing for a gap year abroad is arguably the most exciting time in a young person’s life and nobody wants to think about the potential pitfalls.”

Research commissioned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in June found that Britons still travel with inadequate travel insurance, leaving them facing extremely high treatment and repatriation bills if anything goes wrong.

In one very sad instance, the families of two men who drowned in Brazil found it would cost up to £10,000 to repatriate the bodies. The men, who were members of the heavy metal band After Death, had not bought any travel insurance.