Don't travel without insurance
Many people, having already shelled out on flights and hotels, skip travel cover. But they shouldn't.
Having to cancel a holiday worth thousands of pounds is bad enough. The cost of falling ill abroad and needing to be repatriated could run into six figures or more.
Yet these costs could all be covered by a travel insurance policy that for many will cost less than £100.
Here, we share our top tips on getting great travel insurance for less.
What travel insurance do I need?
Among other things, travel insurance can cover you if you need to cancel your holiday or return early, help you get emergency medical treatment overseas, and will cover the cost of replacing your luggage if it goes missing or is stolen.
While it can be tempting to get the cheapest cover you can find, this could prove a false economy. Instead, look for minimum levels of cover:
- Medical expenses: £5 million
- Cancellation cover: £2,000 or the value of your holiday, whichever is higher
- Personal belongings: £1,500 or the value of your possessions, whichever is higher
- Personal liability cover: £1 million
Our policy scores for travel insurance are based on how extensive a policy's cover is. You can find the best and worst here.
It might be tempting to buy travel insurance without looking at a lengthy policy document, but you should never take the risk; make sure that all the cover you need is listed in the policy.
Should I buy single or annual cover?
Also, consider whether you need a single or annual-trip policy.
Single-trip policies work out cheaper if you are taking one or two trips in the next 12 months, but if you are making three or more journeys, annual cover is your best bet.
- Find out more: travel insurance explained
When should I buy travel insurance?
One of the best features of travel insurance is that in many cases you can recoup the cost of the holiday if you have to cancel, with good reason, before you go.
With that in mind, it is important to buy your insurance as soon as you book your holiday, unless you already have an annual policy.
Leaving insurance to the last minute means you're not making the most of your cancellation protection, and you could be out of pocket if you no longer go.
- Find out more: our full holiday checklist
Should I buy travel insurance from the tour operator or airline?
When you buy your holiday, whether through a traditional package provider or a budget airline, you're likely to be offered insurance at the point of purchase.
Cover offered as an add-on to your trip is unlikely to be tailored to your needs and could be more expensive. Always check the wider market to see if you can get better cover for less.
- Find out more: best package holiday providers
Do I already have insurance?
Before you decide to buy travel insurance, make sure you haven’t already got it. Some packaged bank accounts come with travel insurance as a sweetener, so if you have a packaged account, check whether cover is included.
If you do have travel insurance with your bank account, check its terms carefully and make sure it meets your needs. Does it cover you for trips outside Europe? Will it cover your medical conditions? If it doesn’t, call your bank to see if you can extend your policy or look for a standalone policy that meets your needs.
Can I get insurance if I have a medical condition?
As well as ensuring you have the right limits for your luggage and potential cancellation, you must be properly covered if you're unfortunate enough to fall ill overseas.
Medical cover is especially important for those that have pre-existing conditions. Insurers will ask you about your medical history so they can set your premiums and cover you correctly.
Any conditions your insurer does not know about will not be covered, and you could end facing a massive medical bill if you fall ill abroad.
- Find out more: medical conditions travel insurance
Ask a broker for help
If you're still struggling to find cover contact the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) for advice.
BIBA will put you in touch with a broker in your area who could help you find the insurance product you need.
Remember your Ghic
A Global Health Insurance Card (Ghic) – the replacement for the Ehic – is a medical card that can be used throughout the EU, which entitles you to treatment in state hospitals at the same price as the residents of the country you are visiting. So if they get free treatment, you get free treatment.
If you are travelling to Europe make sure you have it with you, as some insurers will waive the excess on a medical claim if you have a Ghic.
However, never assume a Ghic is a replacement for travel insurance.
As well as covering medical expenses, travel insurance will cover you if you need to cancel your holiday, return early, or if you have your luggage goes missing or is stolen, among many other things. In addition, some insurers will waive the excess on a medical claim if you have an Ehic.
- Find out more: Using your Ghic abroad