Excess all areas
Excess is the amount you have to pay towards any claim so if you make a claim for £500 and the excess is £200, then the insurer will pay £300. Some companies charge an excess on each claim so be sure to check the details. Cheap policies usually mean high excesses and what looked like a good deal often turns out to be a false economy.
What cover do you really need?
Medical expenses, belongings and cancellations are the standard but be realistic – if the worst happens, it can often be more expensive than you think. Which? advises medical expenses cover of at least £2m for Europe and £5m worldwide, £3,000 for cancellation and a minimum of £1,500 for personal belongings and luggage. Always check the single item and valuables limit. Many cheap policies not only have high excesses, the limit of the value of single items is low, making the cover virtually worthless.
How often, how far and for how long?
If you travel abroad more than three times a year, then you’re invariably better off by getting an annual policy that covers you for all trips rather than a single policy for each. But do check the geographical cover as some ‘ worldwide’ policies exclude the USA and Canada while Tunisia, Morocco and Turkey are often included in European cover. It’s especially important to be sure if you’re travelling through countries and similarly check the time limit – Saga’s standard annual cover is for 45 days but many companies only extend to 31 days.
European Health Insurance
Make sure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that gives you access to reduced or free healthcare while visiting an EU country as well as Switzerland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The EHIC is valid for five years and you can get an application form online or by phoning 0300 3301350. Organise this well in advance of your trip as it the process can take a couple of weeks and remember, you can only renew the card within six weeks of it expiring.
Age and medical exclusions
A new agreement between the insurance industry and the government means that if you’re turned down for travel insurance because of age limits, you must be referred to an alternative provider. While Saga travel insurance has no upper age limit and covers many medical conditions, other companies may differ so check the details. It’s absolutely vital to answer questions honestly and be clear about whether you’re covered for pre-existing medical conditions.
Make sure you’re not paying twice for the same item; some personal possessions may be covered by your home insurance, or through credit card or bank policies. But do beware of the ‘free travel insurance’ that some organisations offer as it tends to very basic and may not cover your needs adequately.
Sport and daredevils
Specialist travel insurance is available for winter sports, golf and scuba diving but do check which activities your policy may exclude as ‘risky’. Even professionally organised activities such as horse riding, cycling and jet skiing are often in that category and sometimes walking at high altitudes is not covered.
If you’re someone who prefers to make your own arrangements rather than a package, make sure your travel insurance covers you for scheduled airline failure and if an airline, villa or ferry company goes bust after you’ve booked your trip. Saga offers this as standard but some insurers may not cover airline failure.
UK insurance - is it necessary?
Most of us tend to think of travel insurance when going abroad but unfortunately, hiccups can happen closer to home. Some UK policies will cover the cost of extra accommodation or travel home if you or someone you’re travelling with is taken ill or hospitalised. It’s also important to check cancellation policies of hotels, guest houses or self-catering accommodation so that you don’t lose money as well as your holiday if something untoward happens.
Whether travelling solo, as a couple, with a group of friends or with the whole family, be sure the travel insurance you buy is what you need for where you’re going, how you’re getting there, what you’re taking and what you’ll be doing. Robert Louis Stevenson’s fine words , ‘…to travel hopefully..’ are good advice but in today’s world, travellers need reassurance as well as hope!
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Is travel insurance essential?
Beware costs of exchange and EHIC
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