However you can usually save a lot of money by shopping around for insurance.
Firstly ask yourself whether you really need insurance. If you are UK citizen going to countries within the EU that have a good standard of healthcare it is unlikely that you will need health insurance. A day trip to France simply doesn't need insurance. You don't get travel insurance when you go away for the weekend at home, so a short hop across the channel should be no different. Sure there is a tiny risk that you might end up in a french hospital rather than an English one but life isn't about removing absolutely every possible theoretical risk is it?
In the EU, as a european citizen you are fully covered by the reciprocal arrangements that have been put in place. Since January 1st 2006 the old E111 has been replaced by the new European Health Insurance Card ( EHIC). The EHIC (available free from the Post Office) means that emergency hospital treatment will be provided free of charge in member states.
The EHIC is free to anyone who is a United Kingdom citizen over 16 years old (excludes residents of Channel Islands and Isle of Man). So if you are in good shape and just popping over to Calais for the afternoon, you may well not bother with travel insurance.
However, for longer trips, travel insurance is a must. Staying for a couple of weeks in a greek hospital is a nightmare few people would wish on their worst enemy. having insurance that will get you airlifted home is definitely something worth having.
The cost of cover for injuries sustained on sporting holidays differs greatly depending on where you are, according to a report from Norwich Union Travel Insurance, you could pay up to 5 times as much in the USA as Europe.
The United States of America is the most expensive place and the need for travel insurance is unquestionable. It can costs up to $40,000 to deal with a leg fracture .
In Canada the same injury will tot up a medical bill of around $26,000, while in Italy you could be treated for $8,000. Of course as a European system, you don't pay a penny in italy to get a leg fracture fixed.
There is a need for insurance, but be aware that but the travel agency makes a huge markup. Web based travel insurance brokers are usually 50% cheaper in every country.
The second rip-off is when they try to sell you 'gold' insurance when 'silver' is more than adequate for almost everyone's needs. Ask for details of the additional cover provided. Usually you find the only difference is a small excess on the cheaper insurance, but since travel agents get commission on the sales it is very much in their interests to sell you a higher insurance package than you really need.
So, use the web, shop around and you will find there is cheap travel insurance out there. There is no need to ever be ripped off again.