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Post Office Travel Smart Index analyses the common travel mishaps across 49 destinations for UK travellers

Press release   •   Jul 10, 2019 14:19 BST

Two in five travel insurance claims for cancellation or baggage

  • -Brits left £540 out of pocket from cancelled holidays and incidents abroad1
  • -Thailand, New Zealand and Sweden top the bill as the destinations with the most claims2
  • -37% of UK travellers still regularly travel without travel insurance

Post Office today launch the Annual Travel Smart Index, analysis of claims and Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) requests for consular assistance in the 49 most visted countries by UK travellers.

The Index (which will launch on Friday) was developed to better inform travellers of the potential cost implications of travelling without insurance by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) on behalf of Post Office Travel Insurance. It examined 17,295 claims from Post Office Travel Insurance customers and Consular Assistance requests to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 2018 in 49 of the most visited destinations by UK travellers.

The index reviews claims submitted to Post Office Travel Insurance and FCO assistance requests in 2018 over six categories; accidents, baggage, cancellations, travel documents, victim of crime assistance and emergency assistance. The data was analysed to discover where people were more likely to claim on their insurance or need assistance from the FCO. By comparing a country’s score to the average in each category, every country was assigned an index ranking. The index is scored on a 10 point scale, with a 10 indicating a country with more claims at a higher cost.

Though accidents (claims for medical costs or repatriation) top the list of travel insurance claims abroad (60%), baggage delays (19%) and cancellations (21%) are also common. Travel documentation support accounted for 75% of all FCO requests. Despite this, 37% of travellers still regularly travel without travel insurance, with one in four (23%) blaming the cost. 22% of people have experienced the financial implications of an incident abroad, claiming £543 on average.

Post Office’s Travel Smart Insurance Index Top 10 destinations where insurance would have counted in 2018:

Rank Country Index
1 Thailand 5.9
2 New Zealand 5.7
3 Sweden 5.6
4 Israel 5.3
5 Cyprus 5.3
6 Egypt 5.1
7 Japan 5.0
8 India 5.0
9 China 4.9
10 Brazil 4.8

*For the full list of 49 countries visit: has long had a reputation as a backpacker’s dream, but in addition to a higher rate of accidents and emergencies which led it to the top spot on the index, it also had a higher incidence of cancellations, and the second highest cost of cancellations (£720).

“Adventure Capital” New Zealand is known for extreme sports, but it’s the high incidence of travel document requests which lands it in second place on the index, as well as a higher then average cost of medical treatment (£1,640) and a high cost of cancellation (£450).

Sweden is considered one of the safest countries for travellers and, as a member of the EU, travellers often think that with a European Health Insurance Card – or EHIC – they don’t need travel insurance when visiting. However, Sweden holds third place due to high baggage disruption and a higher then average baggage claim cost (£250).

Emma Springham, spokesperson for Post Office Travel Insurance says:

“Our research showed that one in four travellers have lost money from an unforeseen problem when abroad, but six in 10 UK travellers still regularly travel with insurance – despite the fact that one in four had lost money from an unforeseen problem while abroad.

“One in 10 travellers who don’t buy insurance say it’s because they don’t travel to risky countries, but people often conflate ‘risk’ with accident, and not with cost, and as our index illustrates some of the safest countries can land you with a serious bill.

“You can’t prepare for everything, but what you can do is make sure that when you’re stuck in a difficult situation abroad you’ve set yourself up to hopefully minimise the impact. Spending a little now can avoid a large financial shock later down the line.”

Accidents abroad are the most common claim

Claims for accidents abroad were the most common cause of insurance claims, accounting for 84% of claim costs and 60% of claims. From GP or hospital visits to replacing medication, the costs can rack up very quickly if you suddenly find yourself in need of medical care abroad. Travellers to Cyprus had a higher than average number of claims abroad, and a relatively high average cost of claims.

Popular destinations like the US, Japan and Canada round out the top four positions for average medical claim cost and frequency, which accounts for their high position on the travel index. Travellers to North America (£2,030) had twice the average medical claim cost (£970). While the average claim cost for a single country was highest in India (£4,540).

One in 10 (9%) don’t get travel insurance when travelling to Europe because they think they’ll be covered by their EHIC, but even travellers to countries like Ireland (£390) and Slovakia (£230), at the very bottom of the index, incurred some medical costs.

Top 5 destination for medical costs:

Rank Country Average cost per claim (£) Index
1 Cyprus 970 6.7
2 Japan 4,060 6.6
3 USA 2,390 6.5
4 Canada 1,670 6.4
5 Turkey 750 6.3

Plan ahead, mitigate impact of cancellations

Travellers often leave buying insurance to the last minute, with one in four (20%) purchasing insurance in the month leading up to their holiday, despite the fact that 22% of people surveyed said they have had to cancel a holiday before going.

Travellers claimed £320 on average for cancellations in 2018, but some destinations had higher financial implications, and were much more likely to see travellers left out of pocket for cancelled holidays.

Top 5 destination for cancellations:

Rank Country Average cost per claim (£) Index
1 Canada 440 6.9
2 Cyprus 640 6.8
3 Tunisia 630 6.2
4 Luxembourg 130 5.9
5 Sri Lanka 900 5.9

Consular assistance sought for travel documentation

Published FCO data revealed that travel documentation was the most common reason for consular assistance in 2018, with over 27,000 cases handled across 49 countries. Travellers were three times more likely to request assistance from the British embassy, consulate or high commission with passport or visa issues than for help in relation to accident, emergency, hospitalisation or death.

Find out more about the Travel Smart Insurance Index here:


1 Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,003 UK adults over 18 years old from 7th – 10th June 2019

2 Based on UK tourism statistics, an analysis of Post Office insurance claims and Foreign & Commonwealth Office consular assistance data, Cebr has calculated the top destinations where insurance really counts

3 European countries featured less regularly in the top 10 since the UK has reciprocal arrangements covering healthcare costs with many European countries

Notes to Editors:

For more information, please contact:

Lily Cunningham, Post Office

Twitter @postofficenews

Lansons /

0207 566 9717 / 0207 490 8828

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