You have booked your next holiday and now it is time to start thinking about getting some travel insurance. By having the right level of cover when you travel means that you can relax and enjoy your time away, without those niggling ‘what ifs’.
But choosing the right cover can be tough, especially with so many different policies available. Are you going with family or friends? Are you going to Europe or travelling further afield? Will you be taking part in any sporting activities? These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on an insurance policy. All insurance policies differ in terms of cover and cost depending on what you’ll be doing and where you’re going. So before you buy your travel insurance read our guide for help finding the best cover for you.
Why do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is intended to protect you in case something goes wrong. It can cover you for a range of problems such as medical costs if you are taken ill or injured abroad and holiday horrors such as lost luggage or stolen possessions.
Some policies can even provide cover for unexpected issues such as redundancy and extra costs for pet care in cases of longer delays.
A survey by Sainsbury finance (http://sainsburysbankmedia.co.uk/holiday-health-average-medical-claim-while-abroad-is-over-1000/) has shown that the average cost if you fall ill on holiday and need hospital treatment is approximately £1,088. Without travel insurance many travellers would have to borrow from family and friends if things didn’t go to plan, a stress most of us could do without. For those intending to travel to the USA, the cost of medical care can more than double compared with other destinations. The average cost of treatment in the USA is £2,815 but holiday hotspots such as Thailand and Turkey have above average costs for tourists needing medical treatment.
The different types of holiday insurance
Single trip – If you are planning one holiday a year a single trip policy may be suitable.
Annual insurance – If you are a frequent traveller then an annual multi trip policy may be suitable, this can be cheaper than buying multiple single trip policies. This can also cover you for short UK breaks but you would need to check your policy.
European or worldwide cover – European cover is often cheaper than worldwide insurance. Many of the popular holiday destinations such as Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia are not always covered by a European policy. You will need to check that your intended holiday destination is covered under the correct cover.
Single, couple or family policy – If you travel with a partner or your family look into getting a joint policy as this can bring costs down. The definition of ‘family’ can differ from various insurers so check the small print and find out who is covered before you buy.
Active – If you will be taking part in any sporting activities or going on excursions let your insurance companies know so that you can check that you have the appropriate level of cover. Some insurance companies include certain activities but charge extras for others. If you plan to be active whilst on your holiday it is essential you check that the activities you want to do is included in the policy you have bought. If it is not included you may have the option to pay extra to have this included but this depends on the insurance policy. It is important to always book trips abroad with a reputable supplier, and, if in doubt, check with the insurance company.
Older travellers – Policies that cover older travellers can prove costly. You may want to try a specialist insurance firm to compare costs and what is covered as these policies often include a number of common pre-existing medical conditions.
The level of cover you need
You need to ensure you choose the right type of cover for your individual needs. The cheapest policy might not always be best for you. Travel insurance can vary a great deal and extras can be added on to them, but it is important that your policy should have the following basic level of cover:
Personal liability – In case you need to pay for any damage or accidents you cause.
Cancellation or curtailment – In case you need to cut short or cancel your holiday or your hotel or flights are cancelled. This could be used if you lose your job, a close relative falls ill while you are away or need to come home earlier than planned.
Medical emergency – To cover the cost of treatment due to sudden illness or through an accident you have whilst on holiday. Your cover should also include repatriation in case you need to be flown back to the UK.
Pre-existing medical conditions – You need to declare any health issues you have when applying for travel insurance, failure to do this may make your policy invalid or may mean you are not protected by your policy in the event of a claim.
Delays – This coverage is designed to cover you for long delays. You may need to get the airline to confirm this in writing and also keep any receipts for items you’ve bought due to the delays.
Loss or theft – This can cover the cost of replacing money, personal items or replacing luggage should anything be lost stolen or damaged.
Emergency assistance – Most insurance companies offer a 24 hours emergency helpline. This can be a real life saver when you are in a different time zone.
Every year we see in the newspapers cases where holiday makers have been refused hospital treatment or been given huge medical bills due to travelling uninsured or not disclosing pre-existing medical conditions. Can you really afford not to take out travel insurance?
All policies differ greatly and what is covered by one policy, isn’t guaranteed to be covered by others. It is vital that you are thorough when reading documentation and if in doubt, ask. This guide is intended to help you chose the right policy for you but it important to do your research when choosing a policy and ensure you understand exactly the level of cover you are buying.