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Get the right travel insurance for you
Whether you decide to go for a single trip policy or invest in an annual policy will depend on how often you plan to travel in the year...
You can buy a policy for a single trip, usually of no more than 30 days, or you can opt for annual insurance, so you are covered for any number of holidays throughout the year. It's always a good idea to compare prices for both types of cover. But as a general rule, annual cover is more cost effective if you plan to travel long haul and take more than two or three trips a year.
Don't forget that a holiday in the UK is still a holiday. So you will need cover even if you are not venturing very far afield.
What about family holidays?
Travellers can choose a single trip policy for a single person, a couple or a family. It can often work out cheaper to buy a family policy than to arrange separate cover for several people, but make sure you read the terms and conditions of the insurance.
For example, the excess might apply to each person named on the policy. So, if you a have an excess of £150 and you make a claim, you could end up paying £300 or more towards the cost.
Where in the world?
Travel insurance for Europe is usually cheaper than worldwide cover. But you should check the insurer's definition of Europe to make sure your chosen country is included. Some firms, for example, do not class Turkey as Europe, so you might have to pay a higher premium.
I have cover on my bank account or credit card. Is this cover enough?
Some premium credit cards and bank accounts come with 'free' holiday insurance, so you might not need to buy a separate policy. Just make sure you are happy with the level of cover, as freebie insurance is often restricted in terms of the actual geographical cover and the excess. You might also have cover for personal possessions under the terms of your home contents insurance. Read the small print to make sure the cover is adequate.
Don't delay - take cover out today.
Many people only think about getting a policy a few days before they set off on holiday. But you should ideally arrange cover as soon as you book your trip so you are protected should you need to cancel.
When buying single trip travel insurance it is important to compare as many products as possible - and you can do that quickly and easily using TravelSupermarket's free, independent quotation service, which will lead you to a cheap policy that doesn't compromise on quality.
Finally, don't just go for the cheapest policy you find. Check the levels of cover and the excess levels to ensure you find a policy that has the range and amount of cover that you require at an affordable price. Cheapest is NOT always the best when it comes to single trip holiday insurance.
Falling ill either before you travel or while you're away is the single biggest concern of travellers. But get the right travel insurance policy, and you'll be covered...
A good holiday insurance policy will cover a wide range of risks including illness, theft and cancellation. However, medical cover is one of the most important aspects of any policy and you should look for a policy that covers medical treatment and expenses of up to £2m in Europe or £5m worldwide in case you are ill or injured abroad. It sounds like a lot of money, but the costs can quickly add up, especially if you need to be flown home in an air ambulance or taken from a ski slope after an accident by helicopter or specialist rescue services.
If you are travelling within Europe you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Certificate (EHIC), which entitles you to state funded healthcare while you are away. But bear in mind that the EHIC is no substitute for insurance because a huge amount of medical treatment is not free, as it is with the NHS here at home, and the EHIC does not include repatriation costs back to the UK.
Always disclose any pre-existing medical conditions when you arrange insurance. The insurer may exclude cover for the illness or may add a premium to your policy cost. However, if you withhold information it is likely to invalidate your policy. In other words, your insurer could refuse to pay out if you make a claim and you could be left with costs running into thousands of pounds.
You should also consider declaring the medical conditions of relatives who are dependent on you at the time of booking your trip in case you need to cancel due to this.
With some policies light on cover and others with huge lists, what should you look out for in a good single trip policy?
We've already mentioned that medical cover is the most important aspect of travel insurance. But here are the other key elements.
It's not uncommon for belongings to be lost or stolen on holiday, so you should make sure that you have adequate insurance cover. The insurer will set an overall limit in the value of your possessions, but there might also be a limit on individual items. For example, if your luggage is stolen you might be able to claim for up to £2,000, but there could be an individual item limit of £500. So, if you have packed an expensive camera worth £600, you could be left with a £100 shortfall. There is also usually a cash limit of between £200 and £500.
Cancellation and curtailment.
If you fall ill before you travel, or if someone close to you dies while you are on holiday, you might have to cancel or cut short your trip. Most experts recommend a minimum of £3,000 cancellation and curtailment insurance, but it should at least cover the cost of the holiday, plus any excursions. Make sure you understand the terms of the policy as some insurers are stricter than others about valid reasons for cancellation.
Most people forget about personal liability, but it's an important part of any travel insurance policy because it covers the policyholder if they accidentally injure someone or damage their property. The recommended minimum level of cover is £1m.
You may also wish to consider things such as End Supplier Failure if you have booked a DIY trip, Catastrophe Cover for things such as earthquakes and other natural disasters, travel delay and, of course, winter sports cover if you are going skiing or snowboarding.
Ideally, how much cover should you have on your policy?
At TravelSupermarket we recommend the following levels of cover as a minimum:
Common exclusions - Many holiday insurance policies offer more extensive cover. You can, for example, expect a 24-hour helpline and insurance in case the airline goes bust. But there are also common exclusions. We have already mentioned pre-existing medical conditions.
Many companies also do not include adventurous activities as standard. So, if you plan to scuba dive or paraglide on holiday, you might need to buy extra cover.
We recommend that you always read your policy in full within 14 days of purchase to ensure it covers you for your needs. If unsuitable you still have time to cancel under the cooling off period and find alternative cover (providing you haven't started your travels).