We'd hate to ruin your holiday, but do you know what
would happen if you went abroad, drank too much, fell
over, needed medical treatment and claimed on your travel
Many Holiday insurance would probably never find that
you had over indulged and would blithely pay out. But
if they did ,your holiday insurance might refuse to
pay, claiming that you had put yourself in danger or
breached their holiday insurance 'no drunkenness' clauses.
In some situations holiday insurance will be on the
alert - if, for instance, you are 23 and had been at
a stag party in Prague, or if you were swimming at night.
The FCO has just brought out its second annual report
on 'British Behaviour Abroad' - and there are no accolades
for good conduct. In some countries, the biggest dangers
we face are the bottles behind the bar - and in many
resorts we pose a much greater danger to the locals
than they do to us.
Alarmed by the large numbers of English abroad who get
into trouble while drunk, the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office is subtly trying to tackle the problem. The men
from the ministry say about 41 per cent of us admit
to drinking 'much more' abroad than we would at home.
More than two million Britons a year go abroad for stag
and hen parties, terms almost synonymous with debauchery.
The British Embassy in Prague reports many embarrassing
tales, including that of a stag-party goer turning up
on its steps wearing only a sheet, with no passport
no holiday insurance, money or hotel address and only
a very short-term memory.
'Most holiday insurance are aware that when Britons
go abroad they let their hair down,' says Peter Staddon,
technical director of the British holiday insurance
Brokers' Association (Biba). 'They expect them to drink.
But there is a difference between recklessness and reasonableness.
If you get absolutely paralytic, you may find that your
travel insurance policy will not respond.'
The Financial Ombudsman Service for holiday insurance
is well aware of the problem and has braced itself for
more disputes as insurers turn down claims from people
who have jumped from balcony to balcony, leapt off piers
and bridges into water (known as 'tombstoning') or indulged
in other clearly reckless behaviour not good for holiday
However, the ombudsman for holiday insurance will come
to the rescue of people who have had just one drink
or two and are then turned down by holiday insurance.
It cites the example of the father of a bride who had
a couple of drinks at a wedding in New Zealand and then
slipped over. His holiday insurance pointed to a 'no
drinking' clause in his holiday insurance policy, but
the ombudsman upheld the man's holiday insurance claim.
'For alcohol to be completely excluded, we would say
it would need to be worded very strongly and clearly
and pointed out to the consumer,' said a spokeswoman
for the ombudsman.
At the moment, heavy drinkers abroad are saved some
embarrassment back home because holiday insurance cannot
usually tell how much alcohol was in their bloodstream
at the time of the incident. 'It's difficult to prove
if alcohol was involved,' says Suzi Fenn of Norwich
Union. This is especially true if the claim is for theft,
for holiday insurance - but if medical bills abroad
keep rising, then travel insurance may start asking
for blood tests from foreign hospitals more often.