The Beginners Guide To Travel Insurance

“I don’t need travel insurance. I bounce like a ball when I fall over skiing, volcanoes plan their eruptions around my holidays, and my camera is superglued to my hand at all times…”

Said, no one ever.

Travel insurance is something that you really do need travelling. But, you’d be surprised how many folk disappear off without getting any type of cover.

Unless your Magic-8-Ball accurately predicts the future, we’d suggest not bothering waiting to ‘ask again later’ and make sure you cover all your travel insurance bases.

So, how do you go about picking? It isn’t just down to price and there’s no denying that travel insurance can be a real minefield. To help you get clued up here’s our roundup on what to look out for.

More than medical protection

Think travel insurance, think medical protection. But your insurance should cover you for a multitude of scenarios. We’re guessing you’ll pack your smart phone, possibly some rather fancy headphones, you may even have a DSLR or GoPro, that can quickly add up to be quite costly to replace if they get damaged or stolen.

It is worth checking that you’ve got enough cover for medical care, your possessions, cancellation, delays and even the country you are travelling to. Also, make sure you are not doubling up, as you may be covered already by your household or phone insurance. Sadly, no policies provide you with your own personal St. Bernard rescue dog, we checked all the small print.

You can’t always get what you want

Remember policies do have their limits, so if damage is caused to your possession or baggage through carelessness, you won’t get reimbursed. It is always best to check what your policy doesn’t include, and try avoid those things like the plague. If you are prone to clumsiness, we’d recommend buying kit like the Jurni that has been built to take the impact of frequent travel. 

Anything to declare?

Make your insurer aware of any pre-existing medical conditions, and you will help avoid any claim being rejected. These are conditions that you have had treatment for such as asthma. If you are scratching your head thinking, how do I know what qualifies? Most insurers will have a list of what they need to know before travel, but don’t hold back on giving a full run-down of your health, although you probably don’t need to mention the chickenpox you had when you were 8.

Calling all adrenaline junkies

Your hard won trophy scars or scabs are not only stories to tell, but also probably testament to the fact that partaking in some extreme activities puts you more at risk. If this is your bag, then make sure you give your insurance company the heads-up, even if it is just a one-off bungee jump, that way they can cover you for this. As for wintersports or any activity based holiday, make sure you get a policy that covers you for specific activity-related injury and your sports equipment. 

Buy before you fly

You’ve got your flights and hotel booked, and it’s only 93 more sleeps until your holiday!

What about travel insurance? You’ll get that closer to your holiday. Buzz, wrong answer! Travel insurance doesn’t just cover you whilst you are away, it provides cover before your trip for things like cancellations or anything else that may go wrong (although we have our fingers crossed that it doesn’t).

Already searching comparison sites for your travel insurance deal? Ding, ding, right answer!

Go forth and multi-travel

You’ve been bitten by the travel bug, and one trip a year is not enough to satisfy your wanderlust. If this sounds like you, then it is worth investigating annual policies instead of single trip cover. Annual cover very often works out cheaper in these scenarios, but it is always worth cross-checking as costs depend on locations and how long you are away for.

Leaving on a jet plane? Don’t know when you’ll be back again?

All you backpackers, gap-year escapees, please step to one side. For you, our adventurous friends, standard annual travel insurance just won’t cut the mustard. Why? Because most policies cap the timeframe they’ll cover you for, often at 31 consecutive days. Some single-trip policy providers may offer the flexibility and timescales you need (around the 365 days mark), or alternatively there are specialist backpacker insurance providers that will cover you for 18 months and can even be extended.

Off to see Europe? And we don’t mean the band

Before any final countdown gets sung, you are still entitled to the FREE European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This rather useful card allows you to obtain treatment in state-run hospitals in European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland at the same rate as a local resident - so, if they recieve free treatment, you do too. But don’t forgo the travel insurance, as that covers far more.

For more advice, we don’t think you can beat the Money Saving Experts site, which has great guidance on travel insurance and where to get it, plus a great section for backpackers.

Travel insurance is the perfect travel companion, and will always have your back when you need it. Although we have everything crossed that you never do.


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