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Travel Insurance: Know the Pitfalls

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Travel Insurance Policy Abroad Emergency

Travel insurance is now cheaper than it has ever been, with some single trip policies costing just £5. Yet still one in five travellers do not take out a policy before they leave.

Travel insurance offers many benefits, such as ensuring that your medical bills would be paid if you suffered illness or accident, arrange for you to return home in the case of an emergency, or replace any personal possessions that are lost of stolen.

How Much Cover do you Need?

When it comes to insurance the cheapest policy is rarely the best, because the terms of the policy and the level of cover it provides will not be as comprehensive as with more expensive policies.

Choosing the Right Policy

There are several things to take into account when choosing a travel policy. First, if you are likely to take more than two trips a year, you would probably be better off investing in an annual, multi-trip insurance policy rather than several single trip policies.

However, if you are planning on taking out a skiing trip, it may be worth taking out a single policy. Winter sports cover can add as much as 35% onto the cost of an annual multi-trip policy.

The Cost of Medical Bills Abroad

Medical treatment abroad, even minor surgery, is usually highly expensive. In Europe, treatment for a burst appendix can cost around £7,500, but could cost as much as £25,000 in some parts of the United States.

Therefore, the minimum recommended level of medical cover for travel in Europe is £1 million, and that increases to £2 million in the US. Some policies automatically provider medical cover up to £5 million, but you should check the Key Features details on your policy before you travel.

Lost and Stolen Personal Items

As well as paying your medical expenses, travel insurance can also reimburse you for the cost of new baggage and clothes if your luggage is stolen or lost. Insurance will also replace personal items, including cameras, jewellery and foreign currency and travellers cheques.

Travel insurance will also compensate you if your trip is cancelled, your flights are delayed or even if you miss your connection.

Family Insurance

If you are taking your family on holiday, a family travel policy makes good sense. You should find out how many children are included in the price of the policy, because some policies only cover two adults and two children as standard.

Some insurance policies classify children over the age of 14 as adults, and some class 18 year olds as children if they are in full-time education. It all depends on the policy.

Adventure Holidays

Choosing the right policy will also depend on the activities you expect to participate in while you’re away. Most sporting activities (such as watersports and horse riding) are accepted within standard policies. However, activities such as hang-gliding, jet skiing and bungee jumping are usually not covered under a standard policy.

Unsafe Destinations

Most insurance companies will not provide cover for areas of the world that are deemed unsafe to visit by the Foreign Office, such as Afghanistan, Somalia and Zimbabwe. You can obtain a comprehensive list of Foreign Office travel advice at the foreign office website.

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