Travel insurance guide
Why not having travel insurance could turn your holiday into a costly nightmare
Travelling abroad without travel insurance can be costly if you fall ill or something goes wrong. That’s why taking out travel insurance is important.
What cover do you need from a travel insurance policy?
You can get as much or as little cover from a travel insurance policy as you like – like anything else, you get what you pay for. But a basic policy should include the following:
- Medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance
- Personal liability cover in case you’re sued for accidentally causing an injury to a person or property
- Lost or stolen luggage
- Cancellation or cutting short your trip
- Extra cover for potentially dangerous activities such as jet-skiing or bungee jumping 2
- As well as making sure your policy covers the above, make sure it is valid for the whole time you’re away.
Good polices should also include personal accident cover, legal expenses and financial protection against your airline going bust either before or during your trip.
Many policies exclude cover for drink or drug-related incidents. Most didn’t used to include terrorism but some now do. Also understand that your insurer will not pay out if they prove you have been negligent or reckless.
Read the small print
The devil’s in the detail, so they say, and it couldn’t be more true with insurance. Make sure your policy refunds the full cost of your holiday (less any policy excesses) and that it pays out if you cut short or cancel your trip due to a specified reason covered within the policy.
When looking for travel insurance, try to find a company that has an Air Travel Organisation (ATOL) licence or is a member of an organisation that offers financial protection such as ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents).
Tips when buying travel insurance
Shop around to get the best price for the best cover – remember though, you get what you pay for. Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting before you buy by ticking off the cover outlined above in this article. If you travel often, it might be worth considering annual multi-trip insurance, which could save you time and money.
Cutting short or cancelling your trip
A good policy will cover you if you are forced to cut short your trip or cancel it due to:
- Pregnancy (providing you didn’t know about it at the time of booking your holiday)
- Jury service/witness summons
- An emergency at home such as fire, burglary, storm or flooding
- Bad weather (preventing you from flying)
What does it cover and how much would you receive?
Again, cheaper insurance is likely to have lower policy limits. Some travel insurance policies may allow you to choose the limits on your policy for single items such as cameras and jewellery ensuring them from £250 to £1,000. Find out what your possessions are worth and what it would cost to replace them if they were lost or stolen and take out the appropriate insurance. Remember, too, that you must report the loss to the police within 24 hours and you will be asked to prove this, usually by supplying a police report.
Some policies include cover to help you pursue compensation for personal injury.
Do I need insurance cover if the airline loses my luggage?
This depends on how much and how valuable your possessions are within your checked-in luggage.
Get hold of your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), previously known as the E111 form, which entitles you to state-provided medical treatment that could be free or at reduced cost depending on the country. It can be used if you become ill or have an accident during your stay. You will be expected to pay the difference between the cost of treatment and the discount the EHIC card provides. In addition, the EHIC card will only cover you in a state-owned hospital and will not provide cover in private hospitals or clinics.
The EHIC also covers:
- Treatment for long-term and existing illnesses, such as dialysis for kidney disease
- Routine maternity care
The quickest and easiest way is to apply online at www.nhs.uk (search for ‘applying and renewing your EHIC’).
Your card will normally arrive within seven days. Some people can only apply for an EHIC by post but this will take longer.
- To apply by phone, call 0845 606 2030
- To apply by post, get a form from your local post office. Send the completed form to EHIC Applications, PO Box 1114, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 2TL.