Travel insurance advice

Luggage on airport carousel. © Digital Vision/Getty ImagesMany people deeply regret not taking out travel insurance. They think their credit card accident cover, home insurance, or private health cover is sufficient.




The real cost when things go wrong

An emergency abroad can be extremely expensive. If you need to be returned to the UK it could cost you thousands of pounds, unless you are adequately insured:

  • £35-45,000 - air ambulance from USA’s East coast
  • £12-16,000 - air ambulance from the Canary Islands
  • £15-20,000 - scheduled flight, stretcher and Doctor escort from Australia

Figures supplied by FirstAssist Services Ltd.

Remember: the British Embassy or High Commission will not pay for this.

What should my travel insurance policy cover?

  • medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad – more infomation on medical and health cover page
  • 24 hour emergency service and assistance
  • personal liability cover in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property
  • lost and stolen possessions cover
  • cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip) cover
  • extra cover for activities that are commonly excluded from standard policies, such as jet skiing.

The policy should cover the whole time that you’re away.

Your policy may also have:

  • personal accident cover
  • legal expenses cover
  • financial protection if your airline goes bankrupt before or during your trip.

Many insurers will extend cover if you ask them. If not, shop around for a specialist policy.

Common travel insurance policy exclusions

Always check the conditions and exclusions of your policy:

  • most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents
  • you must take reasonable care of your possessions or your policy will not cover you.

Travel insurance buying tips

  • shop around to find a good price and the right product rather than opting to travel without cover
  • cheaper policies will usually have less cover – for some the price seems most important, but is it worth the initial saving?
  • consider annual multi-trip insurance if you make several trips a year – you’ll save time and money.

Cancelling or cutting a trip short

A good insurance policy will cover you for cancelling or cutting a trip short. Check carefully to see exactly what you’re covered for:

  • accident
  • illness
  • pregnancy (unknown when you buy the policy)
  • jury service or witness summons
  • home emergency: fire, storm or flood, burglary
  • redundancy
  • strikes
  • bad weather – affects the departure of flights and ships.

Ensure your policy:

  • will refund the full cost of your holiday
  • pays out if you need to cancel or cut short a trip because you fall ill for example
  • covers pre-paid expenses such as excursions
  • covers extra costs incurred to get home

And try to book through an agent that's with the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), Air Travel Organisers' Licencing (ATOL) or other credible Financial Protection Organisations.

Personal liability insurance

If you accidentally cause an injury to someone or damage their property they may sue you. Good travel insurance will cover you for personal liability.

Personal accident cover – disability and death

Travel insurance can cover a personal accident payment made for permanent disability or death.

Cover for stolen, lost or damaged possessions

You can normally choose the limit in your policy. Limits for single items such as cameras and jewellery can vary from as little as £250 up to £1000 or more. Check these limits are adequate and realistic.

You should report a loss to the Police within 24 hours. Proof of notification will be required when you make your claim.

All insurance policies say that you must take care of your belongings at all times. If you don’t, the policy may not pay out.

Tip: take as much care of your property as if it were uninsured.

Lost baggage on flights

Do not rely on compensation from an airline if it loses your luggage.

By law, airlines only have to pay a specified minimum value per kilo of lost luggage. This is unlikely to cover the full value of your things.

Legal expenses cover

Taking out legal expenses cover will help you to pursue compensation or damages following personal injury while you're abroad – very important in countries without a legal aid system.

EHIC - European Health Insurance Card

Get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for healthcare in European countries. Understand what it does and doesn’t cover you for.

Financial protection for holidays

Don’t get stranded abroad without a refund when your holiday company goes bankrupt – know what protection exists for you.

Credit card protection

Information on the financial protection offered to credit and debit card users

Useful Links

Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) - the organisation which represents British travel agents and tour companies

Air Travel Organisers' Licensing (ATOL) - a consumer protection scheme for the air travel industry

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