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Can drink impact your holiday insurance claim?

View profile for Molly Puntis
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Having an accident while on holiday will certainly dampen your trip, but could your insurance be invalid if you had that accident after a few drinks?  Molly Puntis, Personal Injury Claims Handler, here reviews the recent news around this topic, and gives some guidance on the steps you should take if you have an accident while on holiday.

In the final three months of 2017, the Financial Ombudsman reviewed nearly 900 travel insurance complaints where an insurer had not paid out.  Over the course of the year, there were 3,000 complaints in total about travel insurance, with nearly four in ten cases finding the insurer had not treated the customer fairly.

“In addition, two cases have shown the difference between drinking and excessive drinking when it comes to alcohol consumption when you have an accident,” begins Molly.  “The first case involved a man who was refused his travel insurance cover after he fell and hit his head after he had been drinking all night.  In the second case, a man was covered by his insurance who had slipped in a nightclub’s toilets after a drink while on holiday.”

Insurer’s refusal to pay

In the situation where an insurer does refuse to cover any medical expenses, the individual can go to the Financial Ombudsman who would make an independent ruling.  They would investigate and review as to whether “excessive alcohol consumption” had contributed towards the cause of the accident, and whether there is enough proof to confirm or deny this.  “Identifying this evidence could be shown in the medical reports that come from the hospital at the time of the accident,” continues Molly.  “The report could show that the individual was suffering from obvious alcohol intoxication or if they were unable to perform certain tasks.  Our insurers do not expect us to stay sober on our holidays, but it’s important to remember the effects that alcohol will have on you, and to keep in mind that excessive drinking could invalidate your insurance should you have an accident.  The burden of proof does lie with the insurer to prove that drink did impact the injured party’s accident.”

What could invalidate my holiday insurance?

It is not only alcohol related issues to be aware of with your travel insurance, but also ensure that your insurance covers the type of holiday you are going on.  “Some insurance policies are on an annual automatic renewal, but if you decide to go on a skiing holiday or one that includes water sports for example, ensure that your previous policy would also cover that,” advises Molly. 

What should I do if I have an accident on holiday?

If you do have an accident when on holiday and you have booked through a package provider, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.  “If the accident was caused by a third party, you could make a claim to cover any medical bills, loss of enjoyment of the holiday and potentially loss of earnings if you are not able to return to work as planned,” explains Molly.  “It’s important to report the accident as soon as possible to either the representative of your package holiday onsite or the UK based representative.  It should also be reported to the hotel management.”

Other advice includes to take any supporting photos that could have caused the accident, ask for witness statements from anyone else involved or anyone who has seen the accident, contact your insurance company and seek medical attention as soon as possible.  Molly concludes, “If you do wish to seek compensation on your return from holiday, ensure you contact us as soon as possible as there is a limited amount of time to make your claim.  Our holidays are a time for relaxation and enjoyment, and if this does not happen due to an accident, then we can help recover any medical expense that you have had to make, and put you in touch with our extensive network of rehabilitation specialists, support organisations and charities.”

If you have had an accident on holiday and would like to review your options for claiming compensation, you can contact Molly or the Injury team on 0800 91 92 30 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.