Travel insurance is a necessity for anybody looking to go on holiday, without it you could be left out of pocket if something goes wrong with the holiday or with a huge medical bill if you fall ill whilst you're away.
The cost of insurance increases the older we get, with the prices significantly rising for those of us over the age of 65. Our guide shares everything that you need to know about travel insurance, including how it works and what you need to look out for when comparing prices.
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance this there to cover the cost of any unforeseen events happening before or during your holiday. Money Saving Expert provide the following definition:
The aim of travel insurance is to cover the cost of the unforeseen, such as illness and injury or theft of your personal possessions while you are on holiday. It's also designed to cover you if you have to cancel your trip, or need to return early due to an emergency."
This form of insurance is there to cover the unpredictable. You may not think that anything will happen to you and that you'll never use it, but it's worth having because you never know what's around the corner.
Having travel insurance will help in situations such as:
- Falling ill on holiday.
- An injury forcing you to cancel your trip.
- Suffering from an injury on holiday.
- Losing your luggage.
- Travel delays.
When should I buy Travel Insurance?
It's important to organise your travel insurance as soon as you've book your holiday. From the moment you book your holiday things can, in theory, begin to go wrong - especially if you're an older holidaymaker.
Your policy will cover events leading up to your trip, such as falling ill with a medical condition or the airline cancelling your flights. The last thing you want is to lose hundreds of pounds after your chosen holiday firm go bust.
It's important to sit down and take a long look at the different travel insurance policies on offer before jumping in and buying one. You need to consider the destination you're travelling to, the types of activities you plan on doing, the amount of foreign currency you plan on taking and the value of your personal belongings.
The majority of policies will offer a varying degree of cover on the following:
- Medical Cover - This covers you for unforeseen illnesses, injuries and accidents on your trip. The policy will pay out for the cost of receiving treatment overseas, as well as the cost of flying you back to the UK.
- Cancellation - This covers you if you can no longer go on your holiday or need to come back early. Of course, there will need to be a valid reason behind the cancellation, such as being made redundant, having to do jury service or caring for a seriously ill family member.
- Baggage and Personal Belongings - This covers you if your belongings are stolen, damaged or lost during your trip. Everything is included, but always make sure to check the limits on different policies. Most providers also provide cover for the loss of your passport, cash and driving licence.
- Personal Liability - This section covers others and their property from any accidents caused by you during your holiday. For example, if you're on a skiing trip and you crash into and injure another skier.
- Delays - There are plenty of issues that could cause your flight to be delayed. Most policies will cover you against delays caused by weather, industrial action and mechanical breakdowns. If the delay is caused by the airline, you may be able to claim compensation directly from them.
Commonly Not Covered
Items which are not generally covered or require a separate policy include:
- An alcohol-related injury - It's highly likely that your insurer will pay out if you suffer an injury whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Different insurers also class being drunk at different alcohol limits, so it's worth checking out.
- Medical Conditions - You need to make sure that you declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer. Any condition that you don't declare will not be covered, so if you require treatment for that condition the insurer will not pay out. You may also struggle to get a claim paid if you ignore advised medication or jabs needed to enter a country.
- Extreme Sports - If you're planning an adventurous holiday or one which includes a winter sport, you're going to need extra cover or a specialist policy. Without a specialist policy you could end up paying thousands in health bills.
- Unattended Possessions - Although your personal belongings are covered during your trip, you won't be able to claim if they were stolen whilst you left them unattended. Always keep your belongings with you!
- Visiting a Dangerous Country - If you visit a country on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office 'unsafe for travel' list, your cover is likely to become invalid.
The excess on your chosen policy is the amount of money that you will have to pay towards any claim you make. This total will be deducted from the total amount that you are entitled to for making a claim.
Many travel insurance companies will have separate excesses for different parts of the policy, such as on any stolen cash and luggage. On a group policy, you may also have to pay an excess for each person for any loss that impacts your entire party, such as cancellation.
There are several policies available, and the one recommended for you will depend on the type of holiday you're going on and the destination. The most common policies available include:
- Single Trip - Insurance that will protect you for one particular trip away. This policy is recommended if you're only going on holiday one or two times a year.
- 12 Month Annual Trip - Insurance that will protect you for a number of holidays throughout the year. This will often work out cheaper than taking out a single trip policy each time.
- Couples - A joint policy for you and your partner, which can work out cheaper than two separate policies.
- Families - This policy is aimed at families who are travelling together. You may receive higher cover levels on a family policy and this could be in the form of additional baggage cover, higher cover level for alternative accommodation and increased cancellation cover.
- Group Travel - This policy covers everybody in your group.
- Winter Sports - This policy will cover any medical bills or theft of gear whilst you're taking part in a winter sport such as snowboarding,
There are also different policies required for European and Worldwide destinations.
Unfortunately, the price of travel insurance increases with age. Commonly, according to Money Supermarket, insurers will have one price bracket for people aged 18-64 and another for those over the age of 65. Some insurers are now offering specialist cover for the over 65s, which may offer extra benefits which you wouldn't have usually received.
If you go abroad more than twice a year, a multi-trip policy is likely to be cheaper than single trip policies. Equally, if you are only travelling within Europe, a “Europe-only” policy will be cheaper than a worldwide policy.
Remember that group policies are based on the oldest traveller or the person deemed to be the highest risk. A separate policy for you may be the best option to avoid everyone paying over the odds but always check both.
If you go on three trips in a 12-month period, an annual multi-trip policy could cost you 1/3 less than the cost of three single trip policies." - Money Supermarket
Avoid Travel Agents
When you book your holiday, your chosen travel agent will try to sell you their travel insurance policy. We advise turning this down, at least until you have gone online to compare prices. Travel agents charge a lot more for their policies and you could end up overpaying.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
As we've already touched upon, you need to disclose any pre-existing medical conditions whilst applying for travel insurance. Different insurers will have their own list of conditions they need to be informed about before you travel, with the most common being:
Your insurer needs to know about your medical history, without these details you could end up facing a huge medical bill.
European Health Insurance Card
If you're travelling to Europe, don't forget to take your European Health Insurance Card. For those of you who are unaware, this little purple card entitles you to treatment in EU countries, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. With this card, you'll be treated as if you were a local.
This card is free, so please ignore any website which try to charge you around £25 for one.
Am I already Covered?
It may very well be that you already have travel insurance. Banks which charge a monthly fee often have extra benefits such as travel insurance, so if you have an account like this you may already have a policy in place. It's worth checking your account online or in your local branch to see if you're covered.
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