Travel Insurance – A Complete Guide
We don’t think about the unexpected to happen when we are on holiday but if the worst does happen, we want to be protected from hefty costs and medical bills.
Travel insurance is the Most Important thing you will need besides your passport and money when travelling. You never know what could happen because we don’t think about the unexpected when we are on holiday. Most health insurance plans don’t cover you when you travel abroad. Travel insurance cover injuries or illnesses so you would be able to seek medical attention. It also covers accidents that might happen to your belongings such as if your camera falls into a lake or river while you are photographing plus situations where it might be stolen. It covers trip cancellation or delays and personal liability as well. What all these means is that a Travel Insurance is an absolute must when planning your holidays.
The type of cover you need will depend on the countries you’re visiting, the activities you’ll be doing and the length of your trip. You’ll also need to decide whether you want travel insurance for a single trip, multiple trips or for backpacking. With so much to consider, I decided to put together this list of considerations so it is clear what to look out for when purchasing a holiday insurance.
A synopsis of this post
First up in this post you will find reasons why travel insurance is important and why you should not leave home without it. I make a brief mention of what you need to consider when purchasing and offer suggestions on the type of cover and factors relating to the type of holiday insurance you may need, With so many insurers offering so many different cover, it can be overwhelming to come to a conclusion. I have researched and have noted a comprehensive list of what makes a good travel insurance policy, and concluding with a summary guide to getting the right cover for the right price. I sincerely hope that this post will be of value to you.
1 | Why is travel insurance necessary?
When you are planning your holiday, you rather not be thinking about all of the things that might go wrong on your trip. However, these things can and do happen. If the unexpected does happen, you would want to be protected from hefty costs and hassle free resolutions. A primary reason why holiday insurance is important and necessary is because it covers you and your family on the trip. Medical attention in a foreign country can be very expensive. Depending on the country visited, medical facilities can be very basic. Signing up to the right policy can be indispensable. I found 13 reasons how the right policy will cover you:
1.1 | 13 reasons to consider why travel insurance is necessary
- When you get sick and need to see a doctor;
- When your medical condition worsens and you need urgent care;
- When you need to be helicoptered out of somewhere;
- When you need to be sent home;
- When you have to cancel your trip;
- When you experience delays and cancelled flights;
- When your passport is stolen or lost and needs to be replaced;
- When you have to stay longer while awaiting for your passport to be replaced;
- When your money is stolen;
- When your personal belongings are stolen, such as your laptop, camera and/or other electronics;
- When your personal belongings are damaged and need to be replaced;
- When your luggage is delayed or lost;
- When you undertake sports or high risk activities such as skiing – accidents do and can happen in circumstances beyond your control such as an avalanche or a volcanic eruption.
Now that you are aware why holiday insurance is necessary, the next step is for you to think about what factors you may have to consider when purchasing your travel insurance policy. With so many providers out there – how would you choose the correct provider to suit your needs? Here are all the factors which you need to consider:
2 | Factors you need to consider when purchasing travel insurance
Obtaining the right travel insurance cover to suit your needs is important. It is important because you need to ensure that you are adequately covered for any eventualities for you and your family plus you don’t want to pay through the roof on a premium where you could pay less if you had done your research. The following are factors you may wish to consider when purchasing travel insurance: and will aide your decision when purchasing.
2.1 | Affordability
There are so many insurance companies offering products where the premium varies. Some are astonishingly cheap while others are exorbitantly expensive. Like all things you buy, you get what you pay for. You may not need all that is included in the policy. You need to choose a cover that you can afford and one that suits your needs;
2.2 | Peace of mind
Choose a policy that covers all eventualities in your given holiday such as emergency medical for extreme sports; suitable alternate accommodation in the event of floods, airline strikes and volcanic ash cloud. Ensure you are covered for disruptions and cancellations due to volcanic ash cloud.
In April 2010, the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud caused wide scale disruption to thousands of holidaymakers where their holidays were cancelled, having paid for expensive holidays which they could not take. Many found themselves stranded abroad not knowing when or how they would get home. Holidaymakers also discovered that the delays and cancellations due to volcanic ash cloud was NOT covered by their travel insurance policy. Learn more about the volcanic ash cloud insurance from an article by moneysupermarket.com here
2.3 | Hassle free process
You would want to purchase a policy from a provider that is recognised for its customer relations’ quick processing of claims. You will want money or electronics replaced quickly while on holiday; You will want to have a simple and user friendly platform without having to fill out lengthy forms when making your claim.
You should be able to make a claim online and/or abroad while travelling instead of when you return home.
3 | What type of travel insurance cover is best for me? | Choosing the right insurance policy and travel cover to suit your needs
The type of travel insurance policy and cover that is suitable to your needs will really depend on the following considerations:
3.1 | Where you are going
Policies are usually set by area.:
Worldwide excluding US; and
Pro Tip – Cross-border travelling: You need to ensure that if you choose to do day trips that these are covered, for example if you are travelling from Greece into Turkey, Gibraltar to Morocco or the USA to Mexico.
3.2 | How long are you going away for
Annual and single trip policies covers you for 90, 120 or even 180 days. If you plan to be away longer, a long-stay policy provides you with up to 18 months of cover.
3.3 | The type of holiday you are taking
Is it business, family, single, backpacking or group travel. Each type of holiday will offer you a different premium.
You will need to consider specialist insurance for the following:
Backpacking; Volunteering; Golfing; Winter sports such as skiing; Cruises.
Find out the latest on the best and worst cruise insurance here
For specialist holidays such as backpacking, golfing and volunteering, you can look up specialist brokers British Insurance Brokers Association
For independent travellers and intrepid families, you may want to consider World Nomads.
World Nomads travel insurance are designed by travellers for travellers and offer policies to cover 150 plus activities in their adventure list. With World Nomads, you can buy travel insurance on the road! Extend cover over activities you’d forgotten to do initially. In essence, they are flexible, and provide a smart way of travel.
3.4 | What activities you will be doing
Will you be doing any winter sports or adventurous activities? There are a number of policies specifically for winter sports that covers injuries and piste closures. If you are doing anything adventurous, it may incur additional cover. Obvious adventure activities include bungee jumping and scuba diving as well as less obvious adventurous activities such as horse riding and canoeing.
3.5 | Your age – Travel insurance for Over 65s
If you are over 65, you will need a specialist policy. Some policies may be more expensive than others for the same cover. You need to shop around. The following are links which you may want to use to research further before making your final decision:
3.5.1 | Which?
Which? sets out a list of suggested best buy insurers for Over 65, often with the latest information.
Who are Which?
Which? is a UK brand that promotes informed consumer choice in the purchase of goods and services by testing products, highlighting inferior products or services, raising awareness of consumer rights and offering independent advice.
Here are the links from Which? for you to research on:
3.5.2 | Specialist brokers
Look up British Insurance Brokers Association who are experts in finding you specialist cover.
Pro Tip: To get the best deal. you may want to consider a multi-trip policy instead of a single one as this will work out cheaper for you in the long term. In addition, taking out a specific policy that relates to the activity you will be doing for example, cruising, may work out cheaper than a single trip.
3.6 | Your medical condition:
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may be charged a slightly higher premium because of the risks involved.
A pre-existing medical condition is an illness or injury that exists before, or at the time, you take out an insurance policy. Common medical conditions are:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- respiratory problems including asthma
- joint and bone inflammation
- chronic illnesses such as cancer or stomach problems
Anxiety or depression should be disclosed as well.
You must disclose any and all pre-existing medical conditions at the time you take out your policy so that it is not invalidated.
Look up these websites for advise and be informed on pre-existing medical condition:
Travellers with pre-existing medical condition – Recommended by Which?
Cover for pre-existing medical condition by the Money Saving Experts
3.7 | What type of traveller are you?
Couple; Family; Group; Business;
Travelling with family or friends gives you the following options:
Single parent cover;
Couples cover provided both are at the same address;
Family holiday insurance that covers two adults and up to four children travelling together provided children are under 18 and living with you.
Couple and child cover is a cheaper family policy if you are a couple and travelling with only one child
However, take note that a “family” policy can be invalid if members are travelling independently. Family policy may not include children/step children who do not ordinarily reside with the policy holder.
3.8 | How often will you be travelling over a 12-month period
- Single trip?
- Annual multi trip?
If you plan to travel more than once over a 12 month period, it will be a good idea for you to purchase a multi-trip policy instead of a single trip. Premiums work out cheaper that way.
A single trip policy covers that just one holiday and ends when you reach home. A multi-trip holiday covers as many trips as you wish to take in a year – the 12-month period begins with your first trip. Each trip may be limited to 31 days or 60 days, depending on the provider.
3.8.1 | Annual OR Single Trip – How would you decide? What is best?
When considering whether a single or an annual policy is suitable, the thing to bear in mind is whether the multi trips over the year are “of a kind” or of different types. If you are planning a skiing holiday and a summer beach holiday, it will be more appropriate to get a specialist holiday insurance policy to cover your skiing holiday and then to get a separate single trip policy for your summer vacation. This may work out cheaper in premiums for you.
NB: Always research thoroughly before purchasing your policy. There are website links listed below for you to use.
No matter your circumstances, there is a choice of policies available to suit your needs. A good policy will have you covered, giving you optimum cover:
4 | What makes a Good Travel Insurance Policy?
As there are so many travel insurers out there, policies vary a great deal. Insurers offer varying features covering different losses. To ensure you are on the right track to getting a good travel insurance policy, ensure the following features are provided for by the insurer:
4.1 | Medical Expenses
A good policy will provide cover towards the costs of emergency medical and surgical treatment while you are away.
£1 million or more for travel to Europe
£2 million or more for the USA
4.2 | Repatriation
An automatic cover to bring you home in cases of emergency.
4.3 | Cancellation
If you have to cancel or shorten your trip, this clause covers you for any travel and accommodation costs you have paid and can’t use or claim back. A good policy will cover you for £2000 and more. You need to read the fine print as some policies will only cover in certain circumstances.
4.4 | Missed departure
Sometimes, due to circumstances beyond your control, you may miss your departure flight, boat or train for example if your car breaks down on your way to the airport. In these situations, you may be covered for £500 or more.
4.5 | Delay
Again, if due to circumstances beyond your control, your travel plans are delayed, you may be covered for £200 or more. There will be separate limits for the first 12 hours of delay and for every 12 hours after that.
4.6 | Travel abandonement
Policies cover certain situations of abandonment where if you have to abandon your trip and cancel your journey, your travel and accommodation expenses will be reimbursed. Cover is £2000 or more. Check the T & C’s.
4.7 | Baggage cover
Policies cover baggage lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. £1500 or more. There are usually separate limits for single articles, valuables and baggage delay. You will need to report all losses within certain time periods and get a written report from your airline if they lose your baggage.
4.8 | Personal liability cover
This cover is for when you are liable to pay damages due to accidental bodily injury to someone or for loss or damage to someone’s property. Cover is £2 million or more.
4.9 | Dental emergency
This covers the cost of emergency dental treatment, £250 or more.
4.10 | Money
This cover replaces money or equivalent (like travellers’ cheques or pre-paid tickets) if it is lost or stolen. Cover is for £500 or more but you need to ensure that you report the incident to the local police within 24 hours and obtain a police report.
4.11 | Cash
This covers you for loss of or damage to money held as cash. £300 or more.
4.12 | Terrorism
Full cover is provided. Some insurers do not cover baggage. Read the fine prints here.
4.13 | Loss of passport
This covers additional travel and accommodation expenses as a result of needing to replace a lost passport. £250 or more. Ensure you have receipts.
4.14 | Winter sports
Covers winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. Cover for your own or hired winter sports equipment, loss of ski pack, piste closure and avalanche delay.
4.15 | Excess amounts
Some insurers might apply different excesses depending on the type of claim. For example, amounts might differ according to whether a claim is for cancellation, baggage loss, abandonment or personal liability. However, a good policy will offer for one excess to be applied per claim.
4.16 | Overseas days + trip duration
A single trip duration during the policy is 30 days or more and the maximum number of days covered when overseas – 120 days or more.
The features above should guide you to choose the type of policy you need and the cover that you need to look out for. To get the right cover at the right price, you need to shop around for best deals and do some research. I sincerely hope that this post has helped you in that area. To summarise all of the above research which I did, I can honestly say that the following should be your guiding steps to buying the right cover for the right price:
5 | Summary Guide to Travel Insurance – Getting the right cover for the right price
How to get the right holiday insurance for the right price – 6 considerations
- Consider a multi-trip policy – as mentioned earlier, this depends on how much travelling you do in a year. It is worth buying an annual cover than to buy each time you travel. In addition, you don’t have to research for new policy each time you travel. Not only does multi trip policy saves you money but it also saves you time.
- Look for multiple cover – best to buy for a couple or family under one policy.
- Check the policy limits – Some insurers set unnecessarily high limits for medical cover, baggage and cancellation. Some policies set high excess limits. Ensure you check these details.
- Watch for exclusions – check for activities that are covered and not covered.
- Check for age limits – over 65’s? Consider points discussed above at 3.5 above.
- Choose a good provider.
6 | Resources and links to choosing a good travel insurance provider
Finding a good provider of travel insurance will always be challenging because there are just too many of them. What is suitable for one traveller may not be suitable to another. You have to choose the provider that best suites your needs. My research shows there are a few which you could explore:
6.1 | Learn more about the best and worst travel insurance companies from the experts
The best and worst travel insurance companies by Forbes
The best and worst travel insurance companies by Which?
Trip Advisor Travel Insurance Forum
6.2 | Comparison sites for Travel Insurance
For quick and easy guide, here are two providers :
Compare the market dot com – This is a USA and UK price comparison website and it is meant to give you the best/cheapest price from the best providers.
Money supermarket dot com is a UK based price comparison website specialising in financial services.
NB: The cheapest quote does not mean the best quote for your needs. You must dig deeper on the fine prints so you are not caught out.
6.3 | Specialist Travel Insurers
6.3.1 | Holiday insurance for over 65s
Insurance for over 65s tend to get a little more expensive. It always pays to research well in advance for the right cover for the right price. Here are some links to aide your research:
Avanti Travel Insurance – This provider has no restrictions on age for single trip policies. However, for annual cover, the age is limited to 70.
Flexicover – This provider has no restriction on single or multi trip policies but has an overall age cap at 85.
Providers with no upper age limit restrictions for single or multi trip policies:
JD Travel Insurance
Specific points for over65s to consider:
Check activities – make sure the activities you intend to do are covered.
Cut cover – sometimes eliminating some cover may reduce your premium
6.3.2 | Backpacking
Backpackers travel a little differently because of their low budget lifestyle and exploring off the beaten path tracks. They still need to protect themselves with a comprehensive travel insurance cover.
Safety Wing is said to provide the best cheap backpacker insurance. It offers $250,000 in emergency medical coverage, $100,000 in medical evacuation and $5,000 for trip interruption.
For me, the best overall travel insurance for backpackers is provided by World Nomads. World Nomads cover the widest number of countries and more than 300 activities, with 150+ activities in their adventure list. They are affordable as well. What makes them unique is that the policies are curated by travellers themselves – some being backpackers themselves in their lifetime. They have been there and done that. Check out their policies that offer $100,000 in emergency medical coverage, $300,000 in medical evacuation and repatriation, $1,000 for stolen or lost baggage. Furthermore, they offer flexible plans to suit your needs – there are plans with higher coverage.
For further research and information British Insurance Brokers Association
BIBA represents the interests of insurance brokers, intermediaries and their customers by campaigning on all aspects of insurance to ensure the industry is united and working for brokers and customers alike.
6.4 | Travel insurers recommended by Which?
Which? recommends the following providers:
HSBC | First Direct | L V | M&S Bank
Resources used in this article:
UK Government Foreign Travel Advise
UK Government Guidance on Foreign Travel Insurance
Money Advice Service by UK Government
Is this post valuable to you in planning your purchase of travel insurance? If so, do let me know in comments below or via Contact Form, I would love to hear from you.
Have a wonderful time exploring the world!
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February 2021, Update
Completely agree that travel insurance is so very important – I am yet to make a claim but wouldn’t dream of travelling without it. Really happy that you found my article to have useful information. Thank you so much.
That’s just awful when insurance companies turn out to be unhelpful! That is precisely the point when they need to be supportive and helpful to ensure your claim is processed as quickly as possible. Hope you future experiences with insurance companies will be a pleasant one.
Yes, the need for travel insurance is much greater when you travel abroad. There is a lot to consider indeed but hoping my checklist will help to guide towards making a decision.
Absolutely. We need to safeguard US when we travel because we never know what can happen to trigger the need to having had one.
I agree with you absolutely. With so much bureaucracy around, a hassle free user-friendly system is a must.
Travel insurance is so very important. We always have it, and actually did use it once when my son became very ill on a trip. Your article does a nice job of describing all the reasons you could need insurance as well as plenty of reputable companies that offer it.
I have to say I often don’t travel with insurance unless I’m travelling to the US! I mean to, I guess I’m just not that organised. Plus the one time I needed to make a claim, my insurance company – let’s just say, were not that helpful. But as I get older and more prone to having disasters, I should reconsider 🙂
There is so much to consider when taking travel insurance, I do take it especially when traveling abroad because you just never know.
Thanks for this helpful guide. With so much uncertainty around travel insurance has become crucial.
A very comprehensive source of information.
Great article on the points to consider while deciding on a travel insurance. I think ‘hassle free process’ that is user-friendly is the most important point to consider. Thank you! 🙂
Haha Ann, we all overlook some things some of the time. I am guilty of that too. Very happy to know the my post on Travel Insurance – A Complete Guide reminded you to take a closer look at options. Thank you so much for sharing.
Okay, I do not have enough knowlage of my insurances… I have to get on that. Thanks for kicking my butt in the matter!
Totally appreciate your kind comments, and you are absolutely correct that travel insurance is needed now more than ever, especially when we are in a foreign country.
This is such a detailed and helpful post as it can be overwhelming trying to find the right policy for your travels. Now more than ever, it’s so important to ensure you have travel insurance, especially when exploring abroad.
That is so true – it costs very little indeed. Sometimes, things do happen when we least expect it. Thank you for sharing your experiences.
The cost is really nothing when you think about what is covered should something unexpected happens! I worked in the Embassy in Madrid for a few months helping Americans in trouble – things like muggings, pickpocket, etc. and it was far easier to get financial help with people who had insurance than those who did not! Was a good lesson for me!
I must say, I agree with you. Travel insurance is an absolute must and one never knows when something can happen.
I have never travelled without travel insurance and not sure why some people do, I guess its that “won’t happen to me” opinion.