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Travel insurance – what you need to know

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Jul 26, 2016

If you think travel insurance is to cover you for mishaps while you’re travelling, then you’re wrong!

Too many people think like this and realise to their cost that travel insurance is actually something you need long BEFORE you travel – as soon as you book, in fact.

If you are unable to travel because of illness, for example, and the holiday company you booked with won’t return your deposit, insurance can come to the rescue.  

(In this case you should fight matters out with the travel company first, and let us know here at A Spokesman Said. Ultimately, though, your insurance should have your back.)

Without insurance, medical costs overseas, especially in the US, can be extremely high and you’d be nuts to travel without cover.

If you think the good old British Consulate or Embassy will help you out if something unfortunate happens or you have some kind of emergency, you’d be right – but there will still be a bill for that help.

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So, what the types of cover are available?

The first thing to consider is how often you travel. 

If you’re going on a one-off overseas trip and really don’t expect to travel again for at least 12 months, then a single-trip policy will probably be fine.

But a multiple-journey policy will almost certainly work out cheaper if you’re going overseas more than once in a year.

Watch out for the maximum length of stay clause on many policies. 

This will be important if you’re travelling for more than the standard week or two. Most policies will cover you for at least 30 days, but you should always check.

If there is a limit and you’re staying away for longer, there are appropriate long-stay policies available. Don’t be tempted to risk a normal policy if you’re staying away for longer, as an insurance company can easily check how long you have been travelling if you make a claim.


Policies for families or singles

If you’re travelling as a couple or a family, it will almost always be more economical to insure yourself as a group, rather than as individuals. 

Some companies offer policies for families that provide standard cover for all, no matter what the size of the family.

Just make sure no one in the group is doing something markedly different that will increase risk. If so, ask the insurers what this means for your premium –  the price you’ll pay.


Check what’s standard on a policy

Any decent travel insurance policy will have as standard certain cover – check yours does and if not, think about switching insurers.

Standard cover should include: medical expenses, cancellation cover and cover for loss or theft, of luggage, cash, phones, etc.

There will be cash limits on some areas that are insured, such as stolen luggage, computers and phones.

And, as with any insurance policy, check you’re happy with the excess – the amount you will be expected to meet on any claim before the insurer reimburses you.


Check you have the right policy for your kind of holiday

Again, as with all insurance, you want to make sure of two crucial things.

1) Check you are going to be covered for the kind of holiday you’re going on. If you’re planning on doing sports that could be considered risky, then check these are covered. 

Because if you do something that is excluded, it could make the whole policy void, even if you claim for something unrelated. Not all policies will cover you as standard for certain activities you might not consider dangerous, like cycling.

Disclose anything to the insurer you think is relevant. If you have a health condition, then tell them. Your premium or excess might rise and you’ll have to pay more, but it’ll be a great deal less than if you make a claim only to find you’re not covered.

2) And, finally, before you travel, do make sure you understand what you will need to provide in the event of a claim. If it’s not clear in the small print, ask. You may need to provide a crime number from the police in the event of a theft, for example.  

Other cover to think about includes, personal liability – for if you’re found to be legally liable for damage or injury to another party – and legal expenses, for is you get caught up in an expensive legal claim or challenge.

Finally, when you do travel, remember to take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). While it entitles you to the same level of cover in an emergency ion all EU states, it won’t pay for you to be repatriated.

If you don’t have an EHIC, you can apply for a free here.

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