As we wave goodbye to a very gloomy January, it’s time to start thinking about summer holidays and looking forward to brighter, warmer climes. And whilst the most exciting part of planning your summer adventures probably won’t be evaluating and purchasing your travel insurance, it’s one holiday essential you shouldn’t travel without.
Travel insurance covers you for a range of areas, though exactly what you’re covered for will depend on the quality of the policy you buy. Be wary of cheaper policies which may not provide you and your family with sufficient protection against certain eventualities. Typically, the more you pay for your holiday insurance, the greater level of cover you will have. Essential areas to look out for include, cancellation cover: should you have to cancel your plans before you’ve even set off; medical costs: if you were to fall ill or be hospitalised whilst away; baggage and money: for loss or theft; and liability cover: should you cause an accident on holiday.
Buying travel insurance is something we often do without much consideration, often jumping for the policy with the lowest price. However, spending a little holiday prep time finding out how your policy works will pay dividends should you need to make a claim
What does travel insurance cover?
- Cancellation costs – If you’re unable to travel, for whatever reason, you can recover your holiday costs. You may also be covered for a cancelled or delayed holiday caused by an airline or travel provider.
- Missed flight – cover for missed flights, which should also include any travel expenses you incur in reaching your destination.
- Lost baggage – airlines are legally required to pay a specific amount of money per kilo of lost luggage. However, this will most likely not cover the full cost of your luggage & contents.
- Personal liability – cover in case you accidentally injure someone or damage their property.
- Emergency medical cover – insures you for medical charges and treatment; replacement ticket/s to get home; and reasonable additional transport and accommodation expenses for relatives/close friends.
- Theft – most insurers require a police report in the event of theft.
In addition to the standard protection cover offered by insurers, other types of cover include:
- Abandonment – Protects you financially should your holiday be delayed resulting in an abandoned trip.
- Catastrophe – Covers you for disruption caused by earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.
- Hijack – Although unlikely, hijack cover financially protects you if your transport is hijacked and your holiday is delayed.
- Legal advice – If you suffer an injury or injustice abroad, legal expenses and advice cover could prove invaluable, especially in countries without legal aid.
- Enforced stay abroad – Protects you in the event of being unable to travel home, due to an airport closure, for example.
- Pet care – Cover for your pets should they require veterinary treatment on holiday.
- Passport expenses – Should you require a temporary or emergency passport whilst you’re away, due to loss or theft, this cover protects you financially and may include paying for travel and accommodation while you organise a replacement.
- Valuables – Remember to check the single-item limit on your policy for valuables such as jewellery, tablets and smartphones. The policy will only allow you to claim back the amount stated, even if your items are worth more.
- Cash – If money is stolen from you, your insurer will compensate you for a specified amount, typically £200-£500. Often, insurers won’t compensate you should money be stolen from your room unless it was secured in a safe.
Please note, most insurers refuse to pay claims for if you were drunk or under the influence of drugs.
Specialist travel insurance:
There are many extra levels of cover that you can add on to your travel insurance policy, including:
- Existing health conditions – Cover for anyone travelling with a pre-existing medical condition, ensuring you can still travel and receive care and attention at a reasonable price.
- Cruise travel – Cruise insurance is often sold as an add-on to a holiday policy, so check that the policy you’re choosing covers cruises.
- Back-packer insurance – Or long-stay insurance, used by those who travel for periods of a month or more, providing peace of mind for an extended period of travel.
- Winter sports insurance – specialist travel insurance for skiers and snowboarders which will attract a higher premium to cover you for the increased risk of medical treatment, plus equipment, piste closures and loss of pricey lift passes.
- Extreme activities – Activities such as climbing, bungee jumping and jet-skiing will most likely not be covered on a standard holiday insurance policy. Ensure you declare such activities when sourcing the best holiday insurance for your requirements.
How much travel insurance cover do I need?
The following minimum levels of holiday are recommended:
- £2 million medical expenses
- £1 million personal liability
- £1500 baggage
- £3000 cancellation
- £250 cash
Do I still need travel insurance if I have an EHIC card?
The free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to state health care in all European Economic Area countries. The card will not cover you for private treatment, nor other holiday insurance essentials such as lost or stolen property. If you’re travelling in the EU, it’s advisable to take an EHIC, but this should complement your insurance policy, not replace it.
Further holiday protection.
In addition to travel insurance, you can protect yourself further by being careful about who you book with and how you pay.
Ensure your holiday is covered by the ATOL scheme, run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which protects you from losing money or getting stranded abroad if the company you booked with goes bust. If your holiday is not protected by ATOL, ensure your travel insurance policy includes cover for end-supplier failure or scheduled airline failure as appropriate. You may have to pay extra to add this on, but for the extra cover and peace of mind, it’ll be worth it should the worst happen.
All travel insurance policies have exclusions and specific benefits, so it’s essential to read the policy wording thoroughly. If you’re unsure which type of policy you need or how much cover you’ll require, speak to an A-Plan local insurance expert in one of our 85+ branches nationwide, who will discuss your holiday plans in detail and advise the best policy for you.