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News: Holiday hazard hotspots uncovered

As thousands of Britons prepare to jet off to sunny climes over the next few weeks, Norwich Union Travel Insurance has compiled a list of the countries most likely to pose a risk to tourists based on its extensive claims database.

  • It may be a star of the East but Thailand featured heavily as a hotbed for theft, tummy problems, traffic accidents and lost belongings
  • Sun-seekers in Mexico fell victim to the powerful rays with the highest number of claims for sun over-exposure
  • The perils of the tropics were highlighted by the Caribbean being the number one hotspot for insect bites and stings
  • A perfect safari destination, but South Africa comes out top for robbery with violence
  • Even good old British favourites, Spain and the Canaries don’t escape the odd problem, both posing a risk for robbery and pick pocketing.

The study did reveal, however, that most of us enjoy a trouble-free trip. The safest places to holiday were in Western Europe, with Ireland coming ahead of Belgium, Holland, Germany and France.

Dawn McMullan, travel product manager at Norwich Union, said: "The purpose of our research is to not to worry tourists looking forward to their summer holidays, just to make them aware of what can go wrong when they’re away from home."

"The majority of holidays go off without a hitch, but we would advise everyone to take the same precautions abroad as they would here. It’s very easy to forget simple security measures when you’re lying in the sun with a cocktail in your hand."

"Our research shows that you need to take a little extra care in certain countries, and of course make sure you are adequately covered by travel insurance."

While Norwich Union investigated claims from lost belongings to theft, gastric problems to sun exposure, the biggest cause of problems when abroad is unforeseen medical emergencies. If you are travelling within Europe the new European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to reduced cost (sometimes free) emergency medical costs. But it won’t cover all your costs and will not cover rescue or repatriation.

To ensure holidaymakers enjoy a hazard-free trip, here are some top tips for staying safe:

  • Lost/Misplaced belongings
    Keep an eye on your belongings at all times. Do not leave them unattended and ensure you don’t check in your valuables while travelling, keep them with you, in a safe place.
  • Theft
    Lock belongings in a safe when in a hotel.
    Be aware of open windows and doors in your villa or hotel room they attract opportunist thieves.
  • Robbery with violence
    Be aware of your surroundings and look purposeful. Avoid looking lost, confused or distracted as this makes you an easier target for opportunist thieves.
    Find out the emergency phone numbers used in the area you are visiting.
  • Tummy problems
    Eat food that has been freshly prepared or thoroughly cooked, avoiding food that has been left standing for long periods.
    Avoid ice in drinks in countries where you can’t drink the tap water (often it is not made from bottled water).
    Be aware that salads may also have been washed in tap water.

The top Holiday Hazard Hotspots, by type of incidents are:

Lost/Misplaced belongings

1. Thailand

2. Mexico

3. Caribbean

4. Australia

5. New Zealand

Road traffic accidents (RTAs)

1. Thailand

2. South Africa

3. India

4. New Zealand

5. Canada

Gastric problems, eg food poisoning

1. Thailand

2. Egypt

3. Caribbean

4. Mexico

5. South Africa

Robbery with violence

1. South Africa

2. Thailand

3. Spain

4. Czech Rep

5. Mexico

Theft

1. Thailand

2. South Africa

3. Caribbean

4. New Zealand

5. Mexico

Ski/Snowboarding accidents

1. Austria

2. Canada

3. Bulgaria

4. Switzerland

5. France

Sun exposure

1. Mexico

2. Caribbean

3. Thailand

4. Egypt

5. Australia

Bites/Stings

1. Caribbean

2. Greece

3. Thailand

4. Mexico

5. Canada

Pick pocketing

1. Czech Rep

2. Thailand

3. Italy

4. India

5. Spain

Lost in transit

1. South Africa

2. Mexico

3. Caribbean

4. Canada

5. USA

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