Deadly risks lurking in the coolest locations of 2014


World Cup of Surfing

When you're lying on a beach, wandering round a picturesque market, or enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, the last thing you want is a killjoy going on about the risks you're facing. However, as the experts reveal the 10 hottest destinations for 2014, professional killjoys point out that travelling there without considering the risks could be an incredibly expensive mistake.

So where are the hottest destinations this year, and what do you have to worry about when you visit?

1. Brazil

ABTA named this as the number one destination this year - partly because it's hosting the World Cup this summer. However, Columbus Insurance warns that certain crimes are rife in Brazil. By far the most common is pickpocketing. However, tourists are also at risk from roadside robberies and quicknappings (short kidnappings) which occur regularly outside banks and ATMs. The good news is that if disaster strikes you'll be covered for any injuries or anything stolen. The bad news is that in a kidnapping, you'd have to cover the ransom yourself.

2. Greece

The blue sea, warm sun, and white sand are a huge draw, despite the financial troubles the country is facing. However, because of the financial and political turmoil in the country, new risks have arisen there. There may well be protests - especially in Athens - which are important to stay well away from because most travel insurance will not cover you if you are injured in a protest.

Columbus adds that in the past couple of years, many people have reported local hospitals refusing the EHIC card in Greece - which means travel insurance may be essential.

3. Malaysia

As the economic picture looks less gloomy, more far-flung destinations will see more interest from travellers.

However, following an increase in kidnappings, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to all islands off the coast of eastern Sabah from Kudat to Tawau, including (but not limited to) Lankayan, Mabul, Pom Pom, Kapalai, Litigan, Sipadan and Mataking.
It is important to note you will not be able to claim on their travel insurance if you go to a country or region where the FCO advises against travel.

4. Mauritius

The beautiful sun, sea and sand is likely to attract those who are throwing financial caution to the wind this year.

Columbus says the big risk to consider is the cyclone season, which runs between November and May. The island feels the effects of a cyclone around 3-5 times a year, so it is a risk. Check your insurance and make sure you are covered if the storms delay your travel.

5. Mexico

It may be a hot destination, but it faces more risk than most. Mexico City has seen several demonstrations against government reforms, some of which have become violent. Even outside the city, you will be at risk from street crime as well as more serious violent crime like robbery, assault and vehicle hijacking.

Aside from crime, there's also the fact that the hurricane season normally runs from June to November and affects both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

6. Oman

Off-road desert adventures (known as "wadi-bashing") are popular among visitors to Oman.
Columbus warns that the risks of desert travel, where breaking down or getting lost can be fatal, mean that an experienced guide or tour company are essential. It adds that those taking part in off-road adventures should always check to make sure their travel insurance covers them.

7. Portugal

On the face of it, this is one of the less risky destinations. However, Columbus warns that there are still things to watch for. Portugal is renowned throughout Europe for water sports such as surfing, diving or wind surfing, though the currents and the power of the swell here require a high level of expertise.

Most people may think regular water sports activities are covered in their travel insurance but this may not be the case. Always check that any activity you plan to do is listed in your policy document.

8. USA

It's a big place, so both the attractions and the risks are diverse. Whatever you plan to do, it's worth making sure that your activities are covered.

It's also worth bearing in mind that getting an illness or injury in America can be wildly expensive, so you should always have comprehensive travel insurance when visiting the States.

9. Costa Rica

It's a beautiful place, but Columbus warns that since early 2013 there has been a sharp rise in cases of dengue fever in the region. You should contact your GP at least 8 weeks prior to travel and check what vaccinations you may need.

The cost of medical care in Costa Rica is also very high, and only emergency medical treatment is available without charge to visitors. As with the States, you should ensure you have comprehensive travel insurance.

10. The Caribbean (Antigua)

Fantastic beaches and crystal seas make this a dream destination in most years. The risk to watch for here is that the hurricane season runs from June to November, which is the most popular time of year for Brits to travel. Check your policy will cover delays caused by adverse weather such as hurricanes.