Travelers using drugs & alcohol could be left high and dry without travel insurance’


The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) is warning travellers that they could invalidate their travel insurance if they have an incident on holiday while under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs when they come to make a claim.  BIBA’s research into 20 leading travel insurance policies shows a clamp down on drunken behaviour with all the insurers surveyed having some form of alcohol and drugs exclusion writes the ADVO Group blog.

BIBA has warned that the exclusions which have been strengthened in recent years vary dramatically between insurers and could lead to consumer confusion.   Exclusions range from ‘excessive alcohol intake’ or ‘drinking so much alcohol that your judgment is seriously affected’ through to some policies which reject ‘any claims that result from using alcohol’.

Graeme Trudgill, BIBA’s Head of Corporate Affairs, said: “We believe that travellers will be surprised that there is such a variety of exclusions within policies and they need to understand what level of alcohol could invalidate a claim and if excessive, it almost certainly will.”

BIBA explained that insurance policies are legal contracts and wordings vary due to the individual insurer’s experience with claims and their appetite for risk.  Travellers should consequently take reasonable care and not take unnecessary risks while having fun on holiday because having to meet the cost of a rejected claim out their own pocket can run into thousands of pounds.  For example, the average cost for medical treatment overseas was £2,040 in 2011*.

The difference between insurers exclusions is considerable, varying examples from the research include:

  • ‘We do not expect you to avoid alcohol on your trips or holidays but we will not cover any claims arising because you have drunk so much alcohol that your judgment is seriously affected and you need to make a claim as a result;’
  • ‘Any claim arising directly or indirectly from you having a blood alcohol content level that exceeds 0.19%, this being the equivalent of you having consumed 8 units of alcohol in a single sessions. 1 unit of alcohol equals half a pint of normal strength (4%) beer, lager or cider or half a standard 175ml glass of 12% wine or one 25ml measure of spirit.’
  • ‘Any claim arising directly or indirectly from your drug addiction or solvent abuse, excessive alcohol intake, or you being under the influence of drug(s).’

Leighann Forsyth, BIBA’s Head of Communications, added: “Travel insurance is vitally important. Travellers could be confused by the different attitudes that are taken by insurers so it is important for them to check their specific policy wording, stay safe and speak to an insurance broker to fully understand the policy cover and conditions.”