When you’re dreaming about sun, sea and sand, travel insurance is all too often just an afterthought. But while picking the right policy may be less exciting than finding the right hotel, it’s even more crucial. If things go wrong and you haven’t got the right level and type of protection for you and your family, your dream trip could quickly become a nightmare.
With so many different types of travel insurance cover available, it can be difficult to identify exactly what the ‘right’ protection is. To help you get started, here are some explanations of the different types available, and things to think about when choosing the cover you need:
Baggage and belongings – policies providing this type of cover should pay out if your personal possessions, including luggage, are lost, stolen or damaged. Before selecting the level of cover that you need, think carefully about how much it would really cost you to replace your camera, phone, laptop, clothes etc; consider whether you have already have some cover elsewhere (eg mobile phone or home insurance) and bear in mind that many travel insurers will put a limit on the amount paid out for individual valuable items, typically £250 or £500.
Cancellation– most policies will provide cover for cancellation due to the illness, injury or death of the policyholder or a close relative, but the availability of cover for other situations, for example if you lose your job and can no longer afford to go, will differ between insurers. The recommended limit for cancellation cover is the total cost of your holiday.
Delay – this provides compensation in the event that your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours. Be aware that not all travel insurance providers will provide cover for delays caused by natural disasters, such as volcanic ash.
Destination – travel insurance is often priced according to three different zones: Europe, Worldwide (excluding North America) and Worldwide (including North America). When selecting Europe, be aware that in travel insurance terms, Europe isn’t the same as the EU (for example, Switzerland is part of Europe but not part of the EU). Also make sure that you’re covered for any day trips you might go on while on holiday that would take you outside of Europe, eg from Greece into Turkey, or Gibraltar into Morocco.
Excess – the excess is the amount that you’ll have to pay towards any claim so, if you put in a claim for £500 and the policy excess is £100, the insurer would pay out £400. But some policies charge an excess per section so, for example, if you were injured during a mugging, you could be charged an excess for any medical costs claimed and another excess for loss of personal belongings. Some travel providers also offer an excess waiver, which means for an additional premium, the policy excess is reduced to nil.
Existing medical conditions – sometimes called ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions, be aware that exclusions are not limited to medical conditions that have already been diagnosed, but may also apply to symptoms which the customer experienced before buying the policy but that have not yet been diagnosed.
Hazardous activity – this is any activity (mainly sports) which the insurer believes carries a reasonable level of risk over and above just going on holiday. Hazardous activities covered by your policy should be clearly stated in the policy document; make sure that whatever you’re planning to on holiday is covered.
Missed departure - unlike delay, where responsibility rests with the flight operator, missed departure covers circumstances where you fail to arrive at the airport in time, missing your flight. This will usually be limited to delays caused by a mechanical breakdown or delayed public transport.
Once you’ve identified the type and level of cover that you need, use our online comparison tool to shop for the travel insurance that suits. Supported by a team of dedicated advisers, you can be sure well help you find the right protection at the right price.