15 things you might not know about travel insurance

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June 14, 2017

As Brits across the country scramble to book their place in the sun this summer spending hours-on-end crawling the internet for a dream holiday, far too little thought is put into buying the correct level of travel insurance.

In fact, a whopping 28% of travellers fail to take out travel insurance at all.

Those who do invest in travel insurance are inevitably much better protected, but there are certain factors that many may not be aware of.

With that in mind, here are 15 things that you must consider when taking out a travel insurance policy.

Pre-holiday cover – When to buy travel insurance

Have you booked your holiday, but haven’t taken out insurance yet?

If the answer to that question is ‘yes’, then you need to sort this out now! Your travel insurance doesn’t just cover you while you’re away but also in the run up to your trip, protecting you against cancellations, serious illness to you or a family member or various other things that might go wrong beforehand.

Want to have a drink?

If you plan on taking in some of the local flavours while on your travels, keep in mind that some insurers won’t even consider paying out should you have an accident, or lose something, when you’re under the influence of alcohol – some insurers are so strict that they operate in a way that will refuse a claim after just one drink.

They can even test blood samples for alcohol so make sure you check the fine print and are aware of when you are covered and when you are not.

READ MORE: 9 bizarre claims made on travel insurance policies

Regular traveller? Save money with annual cover

If you are travelling twice (or more) within the space of 12 months, you‘ll probably find annual travel insurance to be much better value than a single-trip policy. For one annual fee, you can cover yourself for various trips around the globe, saving yourself some money in the process.

Make sure you’ve got a decent amount of medical expenses and cancellation cover and, of course, make sure your insurance covers any region you plan on travelling to.

Check if you have a packaged bank account

Packaged bank accounts generally include different insurance policies, including travel – so before you start searching, keep in mind that you may already have cover. Make sure you look into it carefully to ensure you have adequate levels of cover for your trip, though, because these policies do tend to be quite basic.

For some holiday types, you may even need specialist cover which almost certainly won’t be provided by your bank (for example, skiing, cruising, extreme sports or backpacking).

Note: You might also have credit card travel insurance if you pay extra for a premium account.

Your annual insurance covers you for the full year, even if you are due to travel later

This one requires some explaining, so here’s an example:

If you bought an annual policy in August 2019, then you are covered until the renewal date in August 2020 – simple.

What many people often overlook, though, is that if you have booked a holiday for September 2020 (after the policy's expiry date), you should still be covered for that holiday until your annual policy runs out. That means if you need to cancel your holiday due to an unexpected illness  (yourself or a family member), your home becoming threatened by floods or fire or your destination becoming unsafe, you should still be able to claim on your insurance - be sure to check these terms with your insurer.

If you are unfortunate enough to have to cancel your holiday, remember that you are covered for the date you cancel, not the date of the trip.

READ MORE: Best travel insurance companies (UK)

Check your destination country is covered

European cover is generally geographically defined, and not just EU states – but strangely, some European policies don’t cover Spain and the Balearic/Canary Islands, while others cover non-European destinations like Iceland, Egypt and Cape Verde.

Always check the terms of your policy for a complete list of destinations that are covered. Some insurers offer separate policies for certain parts of the continent (for example, ‘Europe with Spain’) – this is because people are more likely to travel to certain hotspots which, in turn, has increased the cost of healthcare.

Even minor medical conditions should be stated

Be honest with your insurer when it comes to your health, and the health of those close to you. If there is anyone you would fly home to care for if they got ill, your insurer would need to know how likely this scenario is to occur when calculating your premium.

Travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions may end up costing you more, so look into specialist insurers who accept a range of conditions, sometimes at no extra cost. Some mainstream insurers charge more, but others may add a clause whereby you are not insured against any stated pre-existing medical conditions.

If you are diagnosed with a new medical condition after taking out travel insurance, you should let your insurer know as soon as possible. It may not have an impact on your premiums, but it will certainly ensure that your provider has no reason to decline any possible claim you make.

Your EHIC: Travel insurance after Brexit

At long last, the UK’s withdrawal agreement has been ratified by the EU meaning we now have a better idea of how Brexit might affect travel insurance.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still valid in all valid member states (as well as Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein and Switzerland) during Britain’s 1-year transition period, but it is yet to be seen how the future of the cards will be affected in 2021.

The government is pushing for the EHIC to remain in effect in as many countries across Europe as possible post-Brexit, but there is currently no telling whether or not this will be the case.

Insurance doesn’t just cover medical expenses

Travel insurance doesn’t only cover medical emergencies – you’re also covered for theft, lost luggage and repatriation. Having an EHIC (until 2021) does offer medical cover, but there are various other scenarios (health-related and otherwise) which are not covered.

For example, travel insurance might pay for accommodation for somebody to stay with you during treatment and organise transport if you are required to return home later or earlier than expected – neither of these are covered by the EHIC.

You may not be covered for private treatment

A lot of insurers won’t cover any private treatment, unless it’s an emergency and there’s no state-run facility nearby. This means that if you end up accepting private treatment, your insurer might not pay out and you could rack up thousands-of-pounds in medical bills.

Try and find out what medical facilities are available at your destination and check with your insurer. This way, should anything bad happen, you know where you stand on the subject of private care.

You can get the same cover for cheaper

When taking out cover for more than one person, the price of insurance will always be based on the highest risk individual (usually the oldest, or someone with a medical condition).

If you can’t get a reasonable family travel insurance quote, try removing any ‘high risk’ individuals from the policy and compare prices for them on an individual basis instead.

As a rule of thumb, anyone over the age of 65 is probably better off taking out an individual travel insurance policy.

READ MORE: Travelling in Britain: Do I need travel insurance?

Your smartphone isn’t usually covered

It isn’t always easy to find travel insurance with gadget cover included, so check to see if it is available as an optional extra. Another way of protecting your gadgets is to check if this can be added on to your home insurance or take out a separate gadget travel insurance policy (just make sure that your policy provides cover whilst abroad).

You may need specialist cruise travel insurance

Cruises are entirely different to other holidays, which is why many insurers offer tailored cover for anybody planning on booking a cruise.

Cruise insurance will cover specific scenarios such as:

  • Missed port cover – if the cruise skips a destination due to inclement weather or timetabling issues.
  • Cabin confinement cover – if the ship’s medical officer confines you to your cabin due to illness.
  • Unused excursion cover – if you are forced to miss out on a pre-booked excursion due to illness or injury.

Dangerous destinations are never covered

The Foreign Office offer travel advice on GOV.UK, advising against travel to certain countries that are deemed as dangerous. If you plan on travelling to a country/area that the Foreign Office warns against travelling to, it is extremely unlikely that you’ll be covered for any claims as you’re deemed to have ignored Government advice.

It is also worth noting that standard travel policies do not tend to include cover for terrorism-related threats or incidents.

If you do, for some reason, need to travel to one of these areas then consider taking out a high-risk travel insurance policy through a specialist provider. These will be more expensive than standard cover, for obvious reasons.

Don’t lie

The majority of travel insurance claims are paid without issue, but there are scenarios in which rejections occur – these are usually put down to fraud.

While ‘fraud’ may seem like a serious allegation, there are various ‘fake’ travel insurance claims which might be classed as fraudulent. This includes lying on your policy.

Whether you dismiss a pre-existing medical condition, lie about your age or exaggerate your claim, your insurer will not pay out if you are deemed to have lied either on your initial quote or during the claims process.

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