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Knowing you have protection from a travel insurance policy will give you the comfort you need to kick back, relax and enjoy your holiday...
The last thing you want to happen when you are away is to find yourself high and dry with nowhere to turn should you have the misfortune of something going wrong. Taking out a travel insurance policy will not only give you peace of mind, it will ensure you can receive help and assistance when you need it.
Holiday 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. Your policy could include cancellation cover should you have to cancel your plans before you have even flown away, medical costs if you were to fall ill or be hospitalised while on holiday, cover for your baggage and money, cover for travel delays, curtailment costs should you have to cut your holiday short, and liability cover should you cause an accident while away. There is also a huge range of other cover types, so check your travel insurance policy carefully.
Be aware that while you want to get the best price possible, cheap travel insurance is not always a good buy as you may not have sufficient cover. The more you pay for your policy, the higher the level of cover you will have. In fact, you can often get more protection for only pennies more, so buy carefully.
When buying your policy it's particularly important to ensure that your holiday cost is covered for cancellation, you have sufficient medical cover and that you are aware of how your policy works should you need to make a claim.
The level of cover you get will depend on the type of policy you take out. Here are some of the things that you should consider when considering travel insurance quotes:
Travel insurance tip: remember to always check what you are covered for in your policy. For example, winter sports, like skiing, and extreme activities, like bungee jumping, are not commonly included in standard policies – make sure you have the right policy for your trip.
We recommend the following minimum levels of cover for your trip;
With such a huge range of holiday insurance policies on offer, from the very cheap to the very expensive, how do you work out which policy is right for you?
There are two main types of travel insurance. Single trip and annual trip cover.
A single trip policy covers you for one individual trip from the first date of travel until the day you return home. If you are an infrequent traveller, this will be the best type of policy for you.
Annual cover (or annual multi-trip cover) operates for a full year with an unlimited number of trips; however, you can only usually travel away for up to around one month at a time. This type of policy works out better value when you travel away two to three times a year.
Each type of policy will be available for cover in Europe or worldwide (either including or excluding the USA/Canada) and you can buy a policy for a single traveller, a couple, family or even a group.
Read our guides to give you more information.
In addition to holiday travel insurance you can also protect yourself by being careful about who you book with, how you pay and taking out an EHIC card...
Ensure your holiday is covered by ATOL
If you are booking a package or flight-inclusive holiday and want the ultimate protection on top of your travel insurance, make sure it is protected by the ATOL scheme. This scheme, run by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), protects you from losing your money or getting stranded abroad if the company you book with goes bust.
Holiday not covered by ATOL?
If you are unable to book an ATOL-protected holiday, make sure your insurance policy includes cover for end-supplier failure or scheduled airline failure as appropriate. You may have to pay extra add this on, but the extra cover could be worth its weight in gold.
You can also qualify for extra protection under the Consumer Credit Directive by paying for your trip using a credit card, as long as the value of the transaction is at least £100. Paying by debit card also qualifies you for chargeback protection, although this is not legal cover.
Don't forget your EHIC
If you are travelling to Europe, another essential item on your holiday “to do” list should be applying for an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) (unless you already have a valid one).
The card is entirely free and entitles you to state health care in all European Economic Area countries. While health care may not be entirely free, it will be a lot cheaper than forking out for private care. You can find out more about the EHIC here.
There are a range of extra levels of cover that you can add on to your travel insurance policy. We round up some of the main ones...
Anyone who is travelling and has suffered with health problems will probably need to consider applying for cover that includes pre-existing medical conditions. These policies take into account any treatment and condition you have and apply special premiums to ensure you can still travel and receive care and attention at a reasonable price.
Those who love their winter sports will need to take out cover specifically for skiing and snowboarding. The cover is often sold as a bolt-on to an existing policy and probably won’t be cheap, but the higher premium reflects the increased risk of medical treatment, as well as additional cover for ski equipment, piste closures and the loss of expensive lift passes. If you are doing winter sports, ensure you have full winter sports travel insurance to protect you.
Many people take cruise holidays and ensuring that your holiday is fully covered is important. Therefore check that any policy you are choosing covers cruises. Cruise insurance is often sold as an add-on to many policies.
Backpacker or long-stay insurance is used by those who travel for periods of more than one month and is often sold for up to one year away. Effectively it is like normal travel cover but gives you peace of mind for an extended travel period.
There are several other types of protection to look out for when buying policy, in addition to medical and cancellation cover...
Abandonment cover: With every travel insurance policy, there are certain things that are included as standard and others for which you must pay more.
Buying a policy with abandonment cover means you would be financially protected if you turned up to the airport and then suffered a delay that resulted in you having to abandon your trip. The minimum length of delay you would have to experience to make a claim will be stated in your policy terms and conditions.
Baggage cover: Arriving in your destination to find that your baggage has been lost or delayed isn't the best start to your holiday. And if you are unfortunate enough to have your bag stolen, it could cost a small fortune to replace everything.
Baggage cover will protect you against this. But be aware that there will be a maximum amount you can claim, as well as a single-item limit for individual items. TravelSupermarket recommends baggage cover of at least £1,500.
Catastrophe cover: Remember the Icelandic ash cloud? This type of cover will protect you against catastrophes such as that prevent you getting home. Events that are likely to be covered include earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis. Always double check for any exclusions, though.
Delayed departure: It's frustrating arriving at the airport to find that your flight has been delayed.
Cover for this eventuality will reimburse you based on the length of time you are delayed – as long as that is greater than the minimum delay stipulated in the policy terms.
Enforced stay abroad: This cover will protect you financially if you are unable to return home on your scheduled flight due to problems such as airport closure.
Hijack: While this kind of eventuality may sound far-fetched, hijack cover means you would be financially protected if your transport was hijacked and your holiday delayed.
Legal expenses and advice: If you suffer injury while abroad, legal expenses and advice cover could prove invaluable – especially in countries where legal aid isn't an option.
Missed international departure: Even if you do everything in your power to catch your scheduled flight, circumstances beyond your control may mean that you miss it. To put in a claim for missed international departure, you would need to provide written support of what happened and prove that you did everything in your power to catch your flight.
Mugging: This will compensate you if you are mugged while abroad and need hospital treatment.
New-for-old: If your policy includes new-for-old cover, the insurer will replace stolen or destroyed items with brand new ones.
Personal liability: This covers you (up to a certain amount) if you accidently injure a third party or damage their property and end up getting sued.
Personal money: If money is stolen from you while on holiday, your insurer will compensate you for a specified amount – typically between £200 and £500. This doesn't mean you can be careless, though. Insurers expect you to look after your money, and many won't compensate you for money stolen from your hotel room unless it was locked away in a safe.
Pet care: Cover for your pet protects you financially if your furry friend needs in-patient treatment from a vet while you are on holiday due to accidental injury.
Sports cover/adventure cover/specialist sports activities: Many travel insurance policies won't cover you for sports and adventure activities due to the level of risk involved. So if there are specific activities you are planning on doing while away, it’s worth reading the small print of your policy to find out if they are covered. If not, you will need to take out a specialist policy or pay a small additional cost to add it to your existing one. Read the guidance in your documents, and remember to shop around – different insurers have different rules.
Temporary or emergency passport expenses: This type of protection covers you if you have to get a temporary or emergency passport while away due to your passport being lost or stolen. It may include paying out for extra travel and accommodation while you are organising the replacement.
Valuables cover: Remember to check the single-item limit on your policy for valuables such as a tablet, jewellery or smartphone. The policy will only allow you to claim back the amount stated, even if your item is worth more.
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