Travel Insurance Tips and Frequently asked questions

  • 1715 days ago
Going away is one of the highlights of the year, and none of us really wants to think about something going wrong while we are enjoying sun, sea and sangria.

Getting the most from your cover

Going away is one of the highlights of the year, and none of us really wants to think about something going wrong while we are enjoying sun, sea and sangria.

But the reality is that some of us will have some sort of problem while we are away, whether that is lost luggage, delayed or cancelled flights, or a medical emergency. So getting travel insurance really is a must before you head overseas.

However, the price of policies can vary dramatically, so never accept the first price you find, always compare prices to make sure you get the best value cover you can.

What do you need to cover?

You must get cover for anything that you anticipate could go wrong. So the basics would be lost luggage, delay or cancellation of your flights, needing to cancel your holiday before you go away in the case of illness or a death in close family, medical treatment while you are away, and cover for any dangerous sports or activities that you are planning on taking part in.

For medical cover, the minimum cover you should have is £1m, although some policies will go as high as £10m, and it is wise to get a higher limit if you are travelling in America or Australia, where treatment is famously expensive.

Getting cover for medical evacuation and repatriation, in case you cannot fly home on a commercial flight or without a medical professional, is wise. This is especially the case if you are involved in winter sports or other dangerous activities which could lead to serious injury.

Never assume the activity you want to undertake is covered as standard under the policy – you always need to check the terms and conditions, and buy additional cover if you need to.

Baggage cover and cancellation cover should be at least as high as the value of the baggage you are taking, and the cost of your holiday so you are not out of pocket.

Cancellation cover will usually be between £1,000 and £2,000, which for most trips will be enough, but remember to include any pre-paid trips and excursions you are planning while you are away.

If you are taking expensive items with you, such as laptops or cameras, then make sure their value is within the single item claim limit on the policy you have chosen. This is often £200-£300. Otherwise you could find yourself unable to replace them if they are lost or damaged while you are on holiday.

You should also have at least £1m of personal liability cover in case something happens and you face claims against you personally as a result.

In addition, getting some kind of catastrophe cover with your policy, so if there is a repeat of the Icelandic Ash Cloud or there is another disaster while you are away that prevents you from getting home, you will be able to reclaim your additional costs.


What happens if the holiday company goes bust?

This depends on whether you have left before or after it fails. Years ago, it would have been unusual for someone to consider this, but with the likes of XL and Silverjet going under in 2008, it has become much more of an issue for holidaymakers.

If you have booked a holiday in good faith with a company and it goes bust before you go away, you will not usually have enough cover under your insurance policy to deal with this, unless you have what is called ‘Standard Airline Failure’ as part of your cover. But this is rare, so if you want this cover you need to make sure you choose a company that offers it.

If you are away when the holiday company goes bust, then providing it is Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) protected, which most package deals will be, then you will be able to get home as this means the Civil Aviation Authority will arrange new flights home for you.

If you are yet to leave, you should also be able to get a refund under ATOL rules, but this is not the case if you have booked your accommodation and flights separately. In this case, if you have booked your holiday on your credit card, you may be able to get your money back under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

This makes the credit card company and the provider of goods or services jointly liable if those services or goods are not provided, or are substandard and are worth more than £100 and less than £30,000.

What if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

If your flight is delayed your airline will have to provide you with a seat on a later flight, or refund your money. You have no right to expect the airline to pay for another flight with a separate airline.

If it is cancelled, then you should be entitled to food, phone calls and accommodation if the delay means you being stranded overnight. But there is a grey area here, as if the airline claims the delay is outside its control, it does not have to provide you with any compensation.

Being delayed for between eight hours and 12 hours means you should be able to claim some money back from your travel insurer. Check the terms and conditions though, as the actual length of time the delay needs to be will vary from insurer to insurer.

Catastrophe cover will help you if you suffer delays and cancellations due to major events, such as a Volcanic Ash Cloud, but do not assume that you are covered on a standard policy without this being specifically mentioned. To be fair, in most cases, travel insurers will step in to help their customers in these instances even if the cover is not specifically offered, but do not expect it.


Annual, multi-trip or single trip travel insurance?

If you travel abroad a lot, then getting multi-trip cover will work out cheaper for you. Buying single policies each time will become expensive, and you could forget to buy it before you go, which will be a disaster.

However, if you are only going away once in a year, a single trip policy would probably be better value. In both cases, you should compare policies to make sure you are getting the best cover you can, at the best possible price. Remember, cheapest is not necessarily best.

What other type of travel insurances are available?

Family cover

These policies will offer cover for families who are travelling together, and sometimes when they are travelling apart. You may have to pay for children to be added to the policy, but again in some cases they will be allowed to be included at no extra cost to you.

Over 65s

When you reach age 65, travel insurers get twitchy about offering you cover, as they think you are more likely to make a claim when you travel abroad. So a number of companies have started offering policies specifically to cover this age group. Again, compare costs and cover to make sure you get what you need.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Standard policies will often exclude any pre-existing medical conditions you have, but if you need to have something covered while you are away, such as diabetes, there are companies who will do this.

Winter sports

Taking part in winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding are considered dangerous activities, and if you want to do this while you are away, you will need to take a policy that offers this cover.

Comprehensive cover for less

Travel insurance comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and so does the premium you will pay. Buying your cover from your travel agent when you book may seem like a good idea, but in some cases these policies do not offer you the cover you need, and can be a lot more expensive than policies available elsewhere.

So you should make sure you compare policies to get the best deal. Do not assume that the cheapest policy is going to be the best one for you, you must be sure you can pay any excess for a claim – the higher this is, the lower the premiums – and it must also provide the cover you need.

The value of a policy is in whether a claim will be accepted and paid, so it is vital to check the terms and conditions of the policy you are looking to sign up to. Make sure you are comparing like-with-like too, as thinking your policy is better value but finding it does not have the specific item covered, or level of cover you need, is a false economy.

1. Which companies pay out for volcanic ash related claims?
There is no universal answer as each policy is different. You will need to read the Key Facts and policy wording for your policy.

Some insurers may decline a claim as natural disasters can be excluded from policies. Your claim may also be declined if your flight is cancelled, as many insurers believe it is the airline’s responsibility to cover all costs.

2. I’m going on a cruise? How do I find a policy?

If you’re going on a cruise and need cover, conditions will vary from insurer to insurer and some may not cover cruises at all, therefore it is essential that you read the policy documentation prior to taking out a policy.  You will also need to check that all countries you are going to visit during the cruise are covered.

When using our site to book this type of insurance, we recommend that you select the furthest geographical destination for your holiday and then check with the insurer they will cover all the other countries/destinations that are scheduled for your trip.

3. What type of policy should I buy? Can I ring someone for advice?

At present you will need to purchase your cover online by searching for the most appropriate policy for you.

In order to help, we have provided some guides to help you choose the best policy, your choice will be single trip and annual multi-trip. A single trip policy will provide coverage for a specific holiday or a single trip. Simply select your holiday destination and then your holiday start date and end date. An annual multi-trip policy is a travel insurance policy valid for 12 months. The main advantage of an annual multi-trip policy is that you do not have to arrange cover for each journey that you take, especially if you and/or your family travel frequently throughout the year. It also generally works out better value than buying two or three single trip policies a year.

For more details, please view our guides before making your choice.

4. What is classed as a pre-existing medical condition and can I be covered?

A pre-existing condition usually means any medical condition for which medical advice, diagnosis, care or treatment was recommended or received. It is always a good idea to speak to the insurer you are thinking of using to check whether they will include your condition on the policy.

If you’re pregnant, certain exclusions may apply if you travel after a certain point during the period of your pregnancy. We would advise you to read the Key Facts Policy Summary, and the policy wording thoroughly, prior to purchasing the product to see at what point exclusions and conditions may be in place. For complete peace of mind, you can also ask your insurer any questions you may have.

We are able to offer a full list of companies who specialise in this type of cover. Please click to see our panel of insurers who provide travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions.

5. Will I be covered for day trips, excursions, and holidays with multiple destinations?

Many insurance policies will cover for excursions, e.g. travelling to another country for a day or two as part of your holiday. However, check with the insurance company as there may be conditions and limits to cover.

For holidays with multiple destinations, this also varies by insurer. If you wish to purchase a single trip policy you’ll need to select the furthest away geographical destination and then check with the insurer they will cover the other destinations and also any time spent travelling.

The other option would be to simply purchase an annual policy which will ensure that you are covered at all times and in all destinations, subject to your policy conditions.

6. What is included in my policy?

Details of what you are covered for can be found in your policy wording and Key Facts. Levels of medical cover, personal liability cover and any other types of cover that you have purchased will be noted within your documents.

For coverage for Cruises, Winter sports and Hazardous activities levels of cover (if available) will vary from provider to provider. We would suggest you read your policy documentation or check with your provider prior to travel.

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