Most of go on holiday with our tickets and passports, yet many of us quite happily set off without any travel insurance in place. It is vital to have adequate travel insurance policy for ourselves and for those we are travelling with, especially when we are leaving home.
What would you do if you went abroad and needed medical treatment? Say you have booked a holiday in the UK and have to cancel it due to you being hospitalised or a family member being made redundant.
What would you do should the airline you are going to fly with go bust and you are then unable to reach your holiday destination? Should you not have the correct insurance in place, your dream holiday may become your ultimate nightmare, with you facing bills amounting to many thousands of pounds. Should you have to be brought back to the UK, for example, from the States the air ambulance alone can cost around Ј45,000.
Upon deciding that you do need travel insurance, you then need to make sure that you buy the best kind of cover for specific needs. This will be dependent on the kind of travel you are going to undertake and the cheapest policy may not be the most appropriate for you.
Reading our travel insurance guide will enable you to decide the cover level you need to be looking for so that you are totally prepared for that dream holiday.
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The basics of travel insurance
Travel insurance premiums differ a lot. It is of course vital for you to obtain good value for money as it is to select the policy that meets your needs. You can add extras, however, a basic policy needs to include these cover levels:
Cancellation and curtailment
The limit that is recommended is Ј3,000, or your total holiday cost. Usually travel insurers pay out when family members become ill whilst you are on holiday and you have to return early. Read the small print carefully and you will find that usually insurance companies do not pay out if you have returned early due to a friend becoming ill.
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Baggage and belongings
Should you end up injuring someone or damage someone’s property, they can make a claim against you. Hence, it is sensible to have personal liability cover up to Ј1m.
Most insurance companies provide a 24-hour emergency helpline which can prove invaluable especially given when you are in a different time zone.
Certain policies offer generous limits. However, you need to question yourself as to whether or not the cover is actually necessary. Otherwise, you may be paying over the odds for insurance you do not need.
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Pregnancy ought not to prevent you going on a holiday. You will need to check your policy terms and conditions. The majority of travel insurance companies do insure pregnant women, however, normally for up to around 24 weeks. You are likely to be covered in the event you find out that you are pregnant whilst on holiday and therefore need to curtail your break.
What happens should I have a pre-existing medical condition?
A standard travel insurance policy does not cover pre-existing medical conditions. So say you already have asthma and suffer an attack when holidaying that necessitates medical treatment, your policy is not going to pay out.
It is crucial that you declare any existing health issues on application for travel insurance as failure to disclose any relevant details might invalidate the policy.
Certain specialist policies do cover pre-existing conditions; the higher the risk of a claim the higher premium.
The advantages and disadvantages of a european health insurance card
Should you be going to Europe, you may apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles you to medical treatment in state run hospitals within the EU, as well some other European countries, such as, Iceland and Norway.
The EHIC can prove useful in an emergency. However, it does not act as a substitute for insurance. EHIC holders pay the same amount for treatment as a local would. Hence, if the treatment is free for the country’s residents, you are not going to need to pay nothing. On the other hand, should the locals pay towards healthcare, you are going to have to pay up.
The card does not cover repatriation costs because the card does not cover the cost of a return flight home should you become ill or have an accident when on holiday.
You can apply for the EHIC online (0845 606 2030)) and it is of note that it is free.
If you need medical are and use this card, most travel insurers do waive the excess.
How does the excess work on a travel insurance policy
It is vital to grasp how the ‘excess’ functions on a travel insurance policy in order that you do not get stung. The policy holder pays a set sum, an excess, towards a claim. Therefore, on a claim for Ј1,000, with a policy excess of Ј100, the insurance company will pay out Ј900. Certain policies charge an excess per section, so the costs can rapidly mount up.
Some insurance policies charge only one excess per claim, which can prove to be cheaper.
Do I have to take out worldwide cover?
The majority of insurers provide European or worldwide cover. It is vital that you check that you are insured to travel to your destination. Overall, Europe-only policies tend to be cheaper than worldwide cover and usually include countries on European boundaries, such as, Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. Should you be travelling to America or Canada, ensure the country is included on your worldwide policy; you may need to take out specialist insurance to cover the country.
Travel insurance to annual trips or single trips?
You can purchase travel insurance each time you go on holiday, or you can choose annual multi trip travel insurance, which normally covers any number of trips over a year.
Should you be a seasoned traveler or you are considering a long haul vacation, an annual policy usually works out cheaper. Should you make two or more trips per year, or be going to a far away destination, you can save money on your travel insurance if you opt for an annual rather than a single trip policy.
Overall levels of cover, especially for medical expenses, baggage and cancellation are more generous on an annual policy. So if you are a frequent traveller you can be make last-minute trips without any concerns about insurance.
Insurers normally place a limit on the duration of your holiday. Should you purchase a single trip policy, you are normally covered for a trip lasting up to 31 days. Certain companies insure lengthier holidays as standard, however, read the small print with care. Should you be planning an extended trip, like a gap year, you are able to purchase backpackers travel insurance, often referred to as long stay or gap year travel insurance. This is normally valid for between three and 18 months and covers a trip across various countries.
Family travel insurance
It is usually cheaper to purchase a family policy should you be travelling with your children. Moreover, certain insurers offer free cover for younger children. However, scour the excess terms on a family policy. Certain companies charge an excess for each family member. Therefore, say a family of four was forced to cancel a trip, that family would be stung for four excesses.
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