Get the right travel insurance for you
Opting for the cheapest policy may be tempting, but bear in mind that this could prove a false economy if you end up with a very basic level of cover...
Scrimping on levels of cover could leave you vulnerable if circumstances such as illness or cancellation mean you have to put in a claim. A comprehensive policy is essential to ensure you are properly protected.
We recommend you having the following minimum levels of cover for your trip;
Don't make the mistake of assuming that every policy is the same – they vary widely. Things that are offered as standard by some may have to be added on for an additional charge with others.
Read our top tips for choosing the right policy when comparing your travel insurance quotes...
Declare pre-existing medical conditions
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is essential that you declare it to your insurer, even if you consider it to be minor. Not doing so could result in your policy being invalidated should you make a claim (and your insurance company request your medical records, which it has the right to do).
This could be disastrous as medical care abroad and repatriation costs can run into hundreds of thousands of pounds. TravelSupermarket has a dedicated channel for travel insurance for those with pre-existing conditions. Quotes are based on the information that you provide.
The easiest way to find the best deal on travel insurance is by comparing policies online. Use TravelSupermarket's price-comparison tool to see a variety of options and find the best one for your circumstances.
Buy your travel insurance when you book your holiday
Travel insurance may not be the first thing you think about after booking a trip. But buying it when you book your holiday is a wise move in case you have to cancel your holiday for any reason. That way, you can make a claim if you can’t go due to an illness or an injury, for example (as long as you purchased the right level of cover).
Don't get caught out by a hefty excess
Always check the excess amount on your policy. It is the amount you will have to pay towards any claim, so make sure it is affordable – even if that means paying more for your policy.
Make sure your travel insurance provider has a 24-hour helpline
Should anything go wrong while you're away, you want to be able to get through to your insurance provider. So, ensure that the company you buy your policy with has a round-the-clock, 24-hour helpline via which you can speak to someone whenever necessary.
Pick your policy type carefully
You will be offered the choice between a single-trip and a multi-trip annual policy. The latter will cost you more. However, if you are a frequent traveller (or plan to go away more than twice in a year, including UK travel), multi-trip should work out cheaper than buying a separate policy every time you travel.
If the whole family is going on holiday, meanwhile, a family policy could prove more cost-effective, and easier than sorting out a separate policy for each person.
It is essential to read the small print of your policy so you know the extent of your cover. Failing to do so could leave you uninsured, and out of pocket...
Policy terms and conditions vary widely. Extreme sports such as bungee jumping and quad biking, for example, are often excluded. And some companies will not pay out for incidents that happened when you were under the influence of drink or drugs. You should be able to find a list of “hazardous” sports that an insurer does and doesn't cover within the policy wording. If you're not sure, get in touch with the provider to double check.
How long are you travelling for?
The length of your trip may not even cross your mind when you are thinking about travel insurance. However, insurers impose a limit on the length of time you are covered. That’s why it’s vital to check this carefully and stick to it, as your policy will be invalidated if your holiday goes over the specified number of days.
Check your country is covered
When you buy your travel insurance policy, you will either have the option of buying a European policy or a worldwide one.
While it may sound obvious, double check that the country you are travelling to is actually covered, as insurers vary in their treatment of certain places such as Egypt, Turkey, the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.
Frustrating as it is, if circumstances beyond your control – such as transport delays to the airport – result in you missing your flight, you may not be covered.
If this is important to you, you should therefore double- and triple-check what your policy includes. Be aware too that, even if your policy does cover missed flights, your insurance company may require proof that you left yourself plenty of time to get to the airport before paying out.
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.
When you've booked an ATOL-protected holiday, you will receive an ATOL certificate to confirm you are covered and what to do if your travel company collapses.
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.
Avoid online companies that try to charge you for the card. Instead, simply visit the NHS website to apply for your card for free.