Travel insurance is an essential of any holiday, and yet so many of us still go abroad without it. Some people find it too expensive or just too confusing to deal with, others assume that their EHIC card will cover any medical needs they have while away, and some just seem prepared to take the risk. The reality is that travel insurance is just as essential as your passport or luggage, and it’s not a huge expense compared with the costs you could be left with if you get ill or injure yourself while on holiday. Follow our guide to make sure you’re covered for your holiday!
Many people think that their EHIC card is a substitute for travel insurance if they’re in an EU country, but your EHIC can only help you in medical emergencies and even then does not guarantee free treatment. In fact your EHIC only entitles you to the same treatment as a citizen of that country – if they get free medical care then you will too, but in a country where medical care isn’t free you will have to pay the same rates.
Travel insurance varies depending on what kind of policy you get, but even the most basic policy should cover injury or illness, lost luggage, cancellation, flight delays and personal liability (if someone makes a claim against you). Many insurance companies also offer a 24-hour helpline, so you have someone you can call for help and advice if you get into difficulty.
Excess: The excess is how much you have to pay yourself before the insurance company put their contribution in – for example if you made a claim for £200 and the excess on your policy was £50, you would have to pay £50 yourself and the insurance company would pay the additional £150. The cheapest policies generally have the highest excesses, so take this into account when choosing your policy.
Europe or Worldwide: This may sound obvious but always check that your policy covers the destination that you’re travelling to, as some policies only cover specific continents. A few tips – European policies often stretch to include popular holiday destinations like Turkey, Egypt and Morocco, and ‘Worldwide excluding USA’ is usually cheaper than ‘Worldwide’.
Single-Trip or Annual: Annual or ‘multi-trip’ policies will cover all your holidays for the whole year, so if you go on holiday more than twice a year this policy will probably be most cost-effective. It also means you only have to shop for travel insurance once a year! However if you only go on holiday once or twice a year single trip policies will probably be better value for money, especially if you only travel in Europe.
Solo or Group: If you’re travelling with your family or in a couple you don’t need to purchase separate policies for each traveller – providing you live with the people you’re travelling with you can buy one policy to cover everyone. Just be sure to check the small print of a family policy, as it could be invalid if family members are travelling separately or if children are travelling with someone not named on the policy (for example on a school trip).
Backpacker Cover: Most single-trip policies have a maximum validity of 31 days, and sometimes even annual policies have a maximum duration for each trip. If you’re planning a long trip or gap year you can buy specific backpacker insurance which will cover you for up to 18 months in multiple countries.
Winter Sports: Basic travel insurance policies don’t tend to cover more than the standard risks you could encounter on a holiday, so something with a higher chance of injury like a ski holiday requires a special policy. Winter sports policies can also cover your equipment and ski passes.
Activities: Like winter sports, any risky activity will not be covered by the standard insurance policy. If you’re planning on doing horse riding, bungee jumping, scuba diving, or any out-of-the-ordinary activity, you will need to check that it’s included in your policy. Policies that cover this will be more expensive but not unreasonably so – it’s definitely worth the extra cost.
This guide should set you well on your way to finding the best travel insurance policy for you! If you have any more questions, comment below!