Holidaymakers should ensure they are aware of local laws and customs when they travel, to avoid invalidating their insurance policies.
“Just because you have insurance cover does not mean you don’t have to be responsible for your own behaviour. In fact you could unwittingly invalidate your insurance if you break the law or are disorderly,” explained Jonathan Wheeler, vice-president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) a national not-for-profit group which campaigns to prevent needless injuries.
“Many travel insurance policies carry exemptions if you do something illegal. Jaywalking for example, isn’t illegal in the UK but it is in some overseas countries,” he went on.
“If you cross the road when the light is on red, you face a fine – which you could do without on holiday.
“But in the worst case scenario, you could be knocked down by a car and find that your insurer is not obliged to cover you for medical bills, or to get you home, or to pursue a case for compensation if someone else is negligent and injures you”.
Jaywalking is an offence in most US states, and destinations popular with British hen and stag parties such as the Czech Republic and Poland. Sun-seeking Brits should be aware that Greece also has some strict laws relating to taste and decency, which can carry hefty fines. Even some fancy dress costumes may be regarded as offensive and violate the law*. In Mallorca and Barcelona, sunbathers who leave the beach still stripped to their swimwear could be fined as much as £500. And driving penalties in Spain can be much tougher than in the UK - just 1km per hour above the speed limit can result in a fine of around £400 for a British tourist.
“If you’ve had a run-in with the law while you’re overseas, however small, it might beheld against you if you need to make a claim for something,” said Jonathan.
“It’s easy to throw caution to the wind when on holiday but it’s worth knowing the local laws and customs before you set off. Be responsible for yourself and show respect for your hosts”.