There is a lot to consider when taking out travel insurance, but industry expert, George Seatter (Director, Vizion Private Clients), advises that, as with any insurance policy, the most important thing to do is to read the small print before taking a travel policy; you don’t want to find out when it’s too late that you aren’t covered if you have to make a claim.
Should I buy an annual or single-trip policy?
If you travel more than twice a year, it may well be cheaper to buy a multi-trip policy (which usually lasts a year).
Be careful though – a multi-trip policy may not be the best option for you if you are an older traveller or if you have a medical condition. It will probably also have a limit on the number of days of each trip and a maximum number of days in total.
Is an EHIC enough insurance for European travel?
A free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) entitles you to treatment in state-run hospitals in any EU country (and Iceland). You pay the same as the local rate. At the time of writing, Brexit is up in the air (still!) but it will almost certainly affect the EHIC provision and quite possibly put an end to it. Check before you travel and remember that the EHIC doesn’t offer the same provision as travel insurance.
How will Brexit affect my policy?
In true Brexit style, we don’t know! There is the potential risk of disruption to travel and, in that event, the added potential for knock-on delays and cancellations.
You should check your policy before you travel and refer to the government website or Money Saving Expert’s 25 Brexit need-to-knows for sound post-Brexit advice.
You can sometimes get travel insurance for 'free' using cashback sites; if you're only going for a short trip the amount of the cash back might exceed the cost of the policy.
Is travel covered by an existing insurance policy?
Travel insurance can be offered as a sweetener when opening a bank account or it may be something you’re paying them a small amount for each month. Before you rely on this though, check to see what it actually covers. Also be aware of the cover provided by your credit card. This usually only covers purchases made on the credit card and/or accidents that happen on the mode of transport you paid for with the credit card. Do also check your home contents policy before you travel. This may well cover your belongings abroad.
Does it matter what type of holiday I’m going on?
It’s probably not a surprise that a skiing holiday is seen as riskier than, say, a beach holiday in the Med. Look particularly for ‘winter sports cover’ which will cover skiing injuries and damage or lost equipment and if you are going for the more extreme mountain pursuits, check that you are covered. Likewise, if you are going on a cruise, you may need add-ons to cover unique circumstances like cabin confinement due to virus.
Is it cheaper to get a group policy when travelling as a family?
Some insurers offer a discount for a family, group or couple policy and this can also make claims easier to deal with. As cover is usually on a per person basis, that does mean that you would probably have to pay excess for each person and this can mount up the costs. Consider how much excess you would be prepared to pay before you buy your policy.
Will my age or health affect the cost of insurance?
Whilst many insurers will seize the opportunity to charge you more if you are aged over 65 or have a pre-existing medical condition, you can still find a perfectly reasonable policy but, particularly with a medical condition, may need to approach a specialist provider. If you’re struggling to find one yourself, talk to a broker who can help you navigate the options. BIBA provides a list of brokers to point you in the right direction but a good starting point is Good To Go Insurance who provide travel insurance cover to individuals, couples and families who may have difficulty obtaining cover elsewhere, either due to age or pre-exisiting medical conditions.
Check your bank to ensure you don’t get any insurance included in services provided by your bank (for free). Some Lloyd’s and NatWest accounts still include free travel and mobile phone insurance, and most people never take advantage of it.
Do all online policies provide the same amount of cover?
George Seatter, a broker for Vizion, comments that most policies will provide the same thing in terms of medical cover and repatriation, but the areas to look at closely relate to cover for luggage and personal effects and also cancellation and curtailment.
Most mainstream policies bought on line only cover up to £2,000 for luggage and personal effects, and this is an area of concern as the cost of replacing expensive luggage full of clothes and shoes could be much higher. Not to mention any personal items such as jewellery and watches which are normally worn, and are therefore going to be coming on holiday too! Seatter maintains that it’s worth checking your household insurance to ensure that you have all-risks worldwide cover for your more valuable items.
With regards to cancellation, again, most online policies tend to stop at around £1,500 per person travelling which can often be insufficient depending on what type of family holiday it is.