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Our Big Guide to Travel Insurance

in Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is definitely the one travel money product which most people aren’t smart about. A few border on stupid while most just fall into the ‘could do better on price’ category. Time to wise up.

Smart people get the right travel insurance cover at the right price. Generally everyone else falls into one of the following brackets:

  • take out no cover
  • take out inadequate cover or think they’re covered when they’re not
  • pay more than they need to for their travel insurance

For anyone who falls into the first group you’re taking a serious risk not taking out any travel insurance, even for short trips in safe destinations. Medical bills if you have an accident or fall ill when overseas can be astronomical. Even in Europe when you should be covered with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you have one you could end up paying thousands in excesses. What’s more most claims against travel insurance policies are for lost and stolen possessions- this can happen to anyone, anywhere. If you shop around for the best price policies shouldn’t cost you more than a tenner to cover you for most holidays. Compare that to the cost of getting sick, breaking your camera, getting your wallet stolen or the airline losing your bags and travel insurance should be a no-brainer for any trip.

Most people who get caught out without cover when they need it actually think they’re covered when they’re not. The most common cases are:

  • I thought I had insurance with my credit card/ bank account
  • I thought I was insured for skiing/ bungy jumping/ fire eating
  • What do you mean my £2000 laptop isn’t covered by the policy

To be fair, travel insurance policy documents are long and boring but you really should check over the wording before you leave. Here are the key things to check:

  • You’re covered for all the countries you’ll be visiting on your trip
  • You’re covered for all the activities you’ll be doing- especially with winter sports cover where different policies will cover you for different sports
  • The excess on personal effects claims isn’t ridiculous
  • How much cash or traveller cheques you’re insured for
  • How much your bags covered for if the airline loses it

Finding the cheapest travel insurance (with the right level of cover)

Firstly- do not buy travel insurance from travel agents (either old fashioned ones or online) as part of a package holiday. At best you’ll pay 30% or more above the value of the policy. At worst you’ll get sold a policy which doesn’t fully cover you (not maliciously, just the travel agent is unlikely to know your individual requirements and everything you’ll be doing).

Annual or single trip policies

The vast majority of regular UK tourists who travel more than once a year will be better off with an annual policy. Furthermore couples or families are almost certainly better off buying joint travel insurance policies than buying separately as individuals. These 2 things usually present the biggest wins.

Where a single trip policy is the best option (if you’re travelling alone and only once a year) the trick is really just finding the cheapest policy that meets your minimum requirements by comparing as many insurers as possible.

Winter sports cover (ski insurance)

If you’re skiing, snowboarding or doing basically any other sport in a ski resort you’ll need a policy which covers you for winter sports. The exact sports you’re covered for will be in the policy wording but you can assume that if you’re just skiing or snowboarding on piste any winter sports cover policy should be fine. Look out for policy details around loss and damage of ski equiptment which is an expensive asset and also  make sure you’re covered should you need to be air lifted off the mountain. Piste closure, cancellations and avalance cover should be included as standard.

Travel insurance for the over 65’s

Because over 65’s, and to a lesser extent, over 50’s have a higher liklihood of needing to claim against medical cover while abroad travel insurance premiums for this age group are significantly higher. There’s no real way to avoid this unfortunately. Look for policies with specialist providers like SAGA who often have the best rates but don’t assume anything, use a comparison engine and shop around and see what prices the other providers can offer.

This only really scratches the surface. There’s so many in’s and out’s with travel insurance this guide could go on forever but in reality that extra information won’t make our policy any cheaper, it’ll just waste your time. To conclude, the golden rules when buying travel insurance are:

  • Buy in advance and online. Don’t leave it until the last minute or rely on your travel agent.
  • Compare as many providers as you can
  • Compare the cost of annual policies against single trips
  • Buy as a family or couple if applicable
  • Make sure your covers sufficient and read your policy wording before you leave

One last thing. Print your insurance certificate off and take it with you and make sure you keep the insurance companies hotline number handy wherever you go (don’t just store it on your phone- not much good if you’re reporting a lost or stolen phone!)

Bungee jump photo by Carla MacNeil from Flickr

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