Travel insurance - Your need to know factsheet
Shop around and remember that the cheapest deal is not always the best.
Travel insurance is meant to protect you from any costs that might arise from unforeseen events that might occur whilst you’re on holiday, or before your holiday if you have to cancel your trip.
The cover you can buy varies widely between policies, so it’s vital to read the small print before you buy your insurance.
Why get travel insurance?
A good policy will make sure that any unexpected medical costs are paid and that you’re able to get home in an emergency.
Routine medical procedures like getting an appendectomy can cost around £7,500 in Europe, and £25,000 in parts of America.
The policy can also compensate you if your trip is cancelled, your travel is delayed, or you need to buy new luggage because yours is stolen.
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Medical bills abroad
You should always take a European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) with your when you go to Europe, even if you do have travel insurance.
This means that you are entitled to free medical treatment in EU countries. This also includes Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland.
However, this card will only allow you free treatment up to the level that is offered to locals in the country.
This is likely to be much less comprehensive that the NHS, meaning you could be left with a big bill at the end of your treatment.
To get the Ehic card, go to the NHS website — don’t be fooled by scam websites claiming to be official.
How much does travel insurance cost?
Travel insurance has become cheaper and cheaper over the years. Some single trip policies can now be bought for only £5.
However, you should remember that the cheapest policy is not always the best.
Start with using a comparison website like A Spokesman Said, and look at a range of quotes to choose what you think the best cover for your situation is.
Always check what is covered by each policy. For instance, a more expensive deal might have a smaller excess, making it better value.
Always buy your insurance directly from the insurer and not from a tour company or travel agent.
This will make it cheaper, and mean that you are also able to go to the Financial Ombudsman Service if anything goes wrong.
You can make a case with them and request compensation.
Choosing your insurance policy
If you’re going to take more than two trips per year then it’s probably a good idea to get an annual insurance policy which will cover you for multiple trips.
These policies will cover you no matter how much you travel. They are normally for trips that are up to 31 days in length.
If you’re planning to take a gap year or a longer period of travelling, you might need s backpacker’s policy. This will cover trips of up to 18 months at a time.
Level of cover
What level of cover your require depends on a wide variety of factors.
You might not need cancellation cover in an annual policy if you’re going to visit your holiday home abroad four times each year.
But if you’re going for a cruise worth thousands of pounds then you might be willing to pay a higher premium in order to have greater cover, so that you can avoid losing a large amount of money due to a trip cancellation.
You can also get baggage cover, and the amount you need here depends on the value of the items you’ll be packing to take with you.
Your insurance policy might have a limit of £200 per item. Make sure that you get a policy suitable for your possessions, and that your home insurance covers your belongings as well.
Declare any valuable items to your insurance firm before you go. This could include a camera or jewellery.
This will establish whether any special procedures are required when insuring these items and whether it will alter your premium.
If you’re traveling to Europe, the minimum medical protection recommended is £1 million, and this raises to £2 million in the US.
Look at the small print of each policy carefully before buying.
This will list any exclusions that are in the policy. If you’re ill or get into an accident after drinking alcohol for instance, your insurance firm can refuse your claim.
Any travel banned by the Foreign Office won’t be covered. Some policies also don’t cover terrorism
and so if this should occur they won’t pay out.
Normally, sports are accepted, such as horse riding and water sports. Skiing often requires special policies however, so check your insurer’s contract for ‘winter sports’.
If you have to make a claim…
You’ll need proof of any accident or other incident.