Getting the best travel insurance What your travel insurance should cover
Before you buy a travel insurance policy, make sure it offers good value for money. Look at what it covers, as well as how much it costs, so you can be confident you’d have the protection you need if you had to make a claim.
Our financial experts recommend that you look for travel insurance which offers the following features. All of our Best Buy travel insurance policies meet the minimum standards of cover specified below.
1. Medical cover under travel insurance
Medical cover is among the most important features of your travel insurance policy. You should look for European travel insurance that provides at least £2 million worth of medical cover or worldwide travel insurance that offers at least £5 million worth of protection.
This may sound like a huge sum, but the cost of hospital treatment abroad could be many hundreds of thousands of pounds. With no travel insurance, you would have to pay your own medical bills in a country like the USA – and the debts incurred in an emergency could bankrupt you!
In extreme circumstances you may also need to be brought back to the UK in a special air ambulance, which could be incredibly expensive. Be sure that the cost of ‘repatriation’ – getting you home from a foreign country – is covered under your travel insurance policy.
Also, be sure to inform your insurer of any pre-existing medical conditions that affect you or a family member travelling with you, even if it seems minor or irrelevant. By not being 100% honest with your insurance company, you run the risk it may refuse you a payout when you need one. You'll also need to inform your insurer about any conditions that develop between taking out your policy and going on the trip.
2. Insurance for lost luggage, money and valuables
Travel insurance normally covers you up to a certain limit for lost or stolen baggage and belongings.
Which? experts recommend you buy a policy that offers coverage of at least £1,500 for these problems, should they arise.
Ensure that your travel insurance policy covers baggage lost while it is in the care of an airline. While most missing bags are traced and returned to passengers within a day or two, there are some that disappear for good – so it’s important that your possessions have this protection.
As well as an overall limit for lost and stolen belongings, most travel insurance policies will limit what you can claim for individual valuable items. The maximum most companies will pay out is between £200 and £500 per item – so be sure to bear this in mind when packing for your holiday.
Travel insurance policies also tend to limit the amount you can claim for lost and stolen cash and travellers’ cheques. Often the maximum is between £200 and £500, so check the terms and conditions of your policy and refrain from carrying too much currency around with you.
3. Cancellation and curtailment cover
A good travel insurance policy will usually pay you compensation if you have to cancel or cut short (curtail) your trip for reasons such as illness or bereavement. It is always important to check the terms and conditions of your policy to see exactly what is covered, however, as the circumstances in which you can make a cancellation or curtailment claim will probably be quite resitricted.
You should look for a policy that offers cancellation and curtailment cover of at least £3,000, which will include cover for any excursions you have already organised and paid for. Your cover should also include the cost of getting you home.
4. Personal liability cover
Personal liability is an important, if rarely used, feature of travel insurance. It covers you in case you face legal bills which might arise should you accidentally injure someone else, or damage their property, while you’re abroad.
You should look for a travel insurance policy which offers personal liability cover of at least £1 million.
5. Extra features you should look for
If you’d like lost or stolen items to be replaced with brand new ones, you need to make sure your travel insurance policy offers new-for-old cover.
Likewise, if you’re a spectacle-wearer it’s important to make sure your glasses would be covered if they were lost or broken while you were away. Some travel insurance policies don’t offer cover for spectacles as standard.
It’s also desirable for your travel insurance policy to come with access to a 24-hour helpline that will provide help and advice in an emergency. Check whether this is on offer from your provider.
Finally, check to see whether your travel insurance policy includes Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance. This will protect you if your airline goes bust and you are left stranded in another country.