When should I buy travel insurance?
If you regularly travel or often travel last minute, then an annual policy is advisable so you are always covered.
It is worth remembering that most policies will cover you should you need to cancel your holiday due to ill health, redundancy or a family bereavement so it may be worth purchasing a policy when you buy your holiday.
How much does travel insurance cost?
Travel insurance is relatively low cost – according to the Association of British Insurers, Britons spend more than double the cost of an average single trip travel insurance policy on magazines and sweets at the airport.
However, it is important not to just opt for the cheapest policy or the first one you see, have a think about what you need from your policy and ensure you are covered for everything you plan to do.
Single trip or annual travel insurance?
If you are a frequent traveller or if you travel at short notice, ABTA recommends you take out an annual policy. It will be cheaper than buying individual policies and takes away the need to book a policy every time you travel.
For those planning just one trip or very different holidays, a single trip policy will suffice.
European or Worldwide cover?
European cover is generally cheaper so if you are staying in Europe it makes sense just to purchase this kind of policy.
Remember though that popular holiday destinations like Turkey, Dubai, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia where thousands of Brits travel each year will not be covered by a European policy.
Single, couple or family policy?
If you regularly travel with your partner or your family look into joint policies as this can bring costs down and it is easier to have everything in one place.
The definition of family will also differ from insurer to insurer, so find out exactly who’s covered before you buy.
Declaring medical and pre-existing conditions
Failure to declare pre-existing medical conditions can void your policy so make sure you mention anything when you buy it, however trivial it may seem. If you do not, this could later result in the insurance company rejecting a claim.
Medical travel insurance and special assistance
Depending on who you are your travel insurance must be adapted to your needs. This page gives advice on travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition, elderly or if you are pregnant.
Medical travel insurance
If you do not tell your insurer about any pre-existing conditions then your insurance will be void and your insurer may not pay your claim.
Do not be tempted to leave anything out to try and bring your costs down, tell your insurer about:
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- Recurring illnesses or injuries
- Ongoing conditions
- Recent and previous surgeries and operations
- Any current illnesses.
If you have an annual policy or have already bought your policy and your health changes you must inform your insurer even if it seems minor. This may result in a change to your premium but will ensure that you are fully protected.
Travel insurance for pregnancy
Travel insurance is perhaps the most important thing you take on holiday and even more so when it’s not just you that’s travelling! As well as protecting you against any pregnancy related eventualities, knowing you have the right travel insurance will offer you the peace of mind you need to relax and enjoy your break. If you’re buying a new policy, you bought your policy before you knew you were pregnant or have an annual policy, you’ll need to check that you are covered, it’s essential you contact the provider to discuss this.
Here are the main things ABTA recommends you watch out for:
- Make sure that your policy covers you for any pregnancy-related medical care as well as labour, premature birth and the cost of changing the date of your return trip if you go into labour
- Some insurers will want to know that your travel has been approved by your GP or midwife so ask for a clear definition of what proof they want eg. a ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate
- When flying, don’t assume that your airline and insurer will have the same cut-off date, you’ll need to check this with both
- It is also worth ensuring your policy allows you to cancel your holiday in the event that something does go wrong and you can no longer travel
- Remember if your doctor or another medical professional advises against flying or travelling or refuses to issue a ‘Fit to Fly’ certificate and you choose to go ahead, this can invalidate any claim you may wish to make.
Travel Insurance for the over 65s and elderly
If you are over 65 it cannot be denied that insurance premiums can increase substantially. This is frustrating for an increasingly active population who still want to travel, regardless of their age.
ABTA’s own research has found that the over 65s are one of the age groups most likely to travel uninsured. The reason why premiums rise is that once you are over 60 you are much more likely to claim than those aged under 60 and the amounts claimed rise significantly.
It is understandable that insurance companies will charge premiums which relate directly to the amount they have to pay out, but if you are in good health without any pre-existing medical conditions many insurers will take a more sympathetic and informed view on the amount they will charge you. Travelling with an EHIC card can also reduce premiums when travelling within the EU, but remember this will be because you will be expected to use state hospitals and cover varies widely throughout the EU, so check in advance if this is the best option for you.
Do not be tempted to hide any pre-existing medical condition when purchasing cover, this will invalidate your policy even if any medical problems you may encounter on holiday are not directly related to this condition.
Never run the risk of travelling uninsured medical expenses overseas can swiftly run into the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds and if you need an air ambulance this too can cost up to £30,000.
We often do things on holiday that we may not do in the UK, which are potentially risky. So if you are going to try sports or go on an excursion such as white water rafting, let the insurance company know to ensure that you have appropriate cover.
What should my travel insurance policy cover?
A good comprehensive policy will cover:
Medical expenses: these can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, sometimes even higher, particularly in the USA. Travel insurance will cover those bills. We recommend that you choose a policy with a minimum of £2m of medical cover in Europe and £5m worldwide. Note that if you have a pre-existing medical condition it is vital you declare it to the insurance company.
Always check the small print, but most insurance policies will cover:
- Emergency medical treatment
- A return flight should you miss yours due to medical problems
- Accommodation and travel expenses for someone to stay with youThe cost of someone to travel out from the UK if your doctor recommends it.
Cancellation charges: if you fall ill or lose your job and are unable to travel the resulting cancellation fees should be covered by your travel insurance. For this reason it is important that you purchase insurance at the time of booking as you can never predict when you might need to cancel. Check to see what your policy offers for the following:
- Family bereavement
- Pregnancy (unknown when you buy the policy)
- Jury service or witness summons
- Home emergency: fire, storm or flood, burglary
- Bad weather – affects the departure of flights and ships.
Lost luggage and belongings: we recommend your policy provides at least £1,500 to cover lost or stolen possessions.
Look for insurance that protects your possessions and baggage at all points of your holiday – particularly baggage lost while it is in the care of an airline.
Most travel insurance policies will cover:
- Individual valuable items – although there is generally a cap on how much is paid out per item
- Lost and stolen items and luggage
- Lost and stolen cash and travellers’ cheques.
Travel insurance will cover lost and stolen belongings but make sure that you take good care of them. For example, if you leave your baggage unattended or in an unlocked hire car or check high value goods into the aircraft hold, the insurance company may take the view that you did not take due care and this may affect your claim.
INSURANCE COMPANIES WE RECOMMEND
HOLIDAY EXTRAS – 0871 360 2742. QUOTE J7295
INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL & HEALTH CARE – 0845 465 1717. QUOTE TRA4
ABTASURE – 0333 207 0603. QUOTE J7295 or www.abtasure.co.uk and input J7295 in the reference box