Travel insurance jargon buster

Travel insurance jargon buster

It’s generally accepted that there’s an awful lot of gobbledygook spoken out there.

From politicians with their annoying habits of conversing in throw-away sound bites, to irksome teenagers who steadfastly communicate in a street language all of their own making.

Some people make about as much sense as an inebriated ventriloquist while others routinely sound like Professor Stanley Unwin gargling with nails. Google it if in doubt. And if it’s not ‘txtspk’ and ‘Unwinese’ we’re battling to understand/decipher/loosely translate, then instead it’s meaningless jargon which needs interpreting.

The world of insurance is littered with words and phrases which require would-be policyholders to have a revised edition of the Oxford English readily to hand whenever and wherever they reach for policy literature; and the world of travel insurance in particular is often found at the vanguard of this seemingly nonsensical movement.

That is, until now.

To help you work your way through the literary minefield of travel insurance gibberish we have devised this ‘at-a-glance’ jargon-busting A – Z guide which aims to cut through the potentially misleading blather and prattle and tell you travel insurance stuff, pretty much how it is (i.e, straight); once you strip away all the filler.

Travel insurance terminology doesn’t need to leave you confused every time you look to arrange the right policy for you and your family, which is why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile this one-stop travel insurance glossary page.


Annual Multi Trip (otherwise referred to as ‘Multi Trip policy’) – Probably the best of the travel insurance product buys, in as much as it extends to cover the policyholder for up to 365 days, as instigated from the date of issue. Although the policyholder is restricted to just how many consecutive days they can be away at any one time as per the contractual agreement thrashed out by both parties (e.g. insurance policy provider and the insured), which tend to be in the regions of 17, 31 and 45 days in individual duration. Such policies aren’t limited to overseas travel as domestic holidays can also be best served by this product, providing the jump off point and return journey finish line for the period of vacation is always here in the UK.


Baggage – This normally covers items which are either worn, used or carried about the policyholder’s person during a trip/scheduled holiday, up to a certain predefined monetary value. For business travellers, this will also run to specific business-related materials and equipment. There are often sub-limits for types of personal effects, particularly valuables (often including all electronic goods), so it’s always advisable to check definitions carefully.


Cancellation – This is as simple as it sounds and is essentially the terminology used to describe when a policyholder cancels their planned holiday as a direct result of injury or illness stopping them in their holidaying tracks. Although in reality this could be due to a host of unforeseen circumstances or series of events playing out which effectively compromise the scheduled get-away. The upshot of it is that in many instances the policyholder can claim certain monies back on a trip they can no longer partake in, depending on the extent of the their individual travel policy features.

Claims Handler – An individual whose name appears on the insured person’s policy documentation – and previously appointed by the travel insurer in the event of situations arising – who is tasked with handling any future claims which are recorded, providing they comply with the terms and conditions of the policyholder’s agreement.

Close Family Relative – This is typically any member of a traditional family unit who’s either listed as next of kin or equally close in terms of the family tree. For instance mother, father, wife, husband, brother, sister, son, daughter, grandparent, etc… all the way down to brother-in-laws and legal guardians as far as travel insurance policy documentation is concerned.

Cooling Off Period – Absolutely nothing to do with diving into a hotel swimming pool and temporarily escaping the heat of your chosen holiday destination, but rather the intervening period specifically noted as being between the date at which the travel insurance company acknowledges receipt of your completed policy application and 14 days thereafter. Providing no travel has taken place during this interim passage of time/no claims have been made, the would-be insured’s policy can be annulled and returned (not many questions asked) and they can expect to be in receipt of a full refund. As is protocol with many leading insurance products.

Couple – For the purpose of travel insurance providing companies this normally refers to married or common law couples (including same sex) who, crucially, reside at the same address.

Curtailment – Unlike ‘Cancellation’ which is explicitly in relation to an unpredictable incident or situation arising which ultimately forces the policyholder to not even venture on holiday in the first place, ‘curtailment’ is the description for policyholders who need to cut their travel/holiday short (and consequently return home) quicker than they’d anticipated due to a variety of reasons. Everything from issues back home which might have unexpectedly cropped up whilst the insured was away, to the policyholder suffering from an injury or illness while on vacation. In these eventualities it’s common place for most travel insurers to compensate for this un-premeditated turn of events, by way of a subsequent claim settlement. This normally manifests itself in the form of pro-rata reimbursement, regarding the unused percentage of the holiday’s overall cost.


Date of Issue – Shouldn’t be confused with travel dates, as it expressly refers to the actual date the insurance premium was paid and subsequent policy actioned, and will be highlighted on the travel insurance policy documentation.

Delay – Some travel insurance providers will recompense the insured for any unforeseen financial outlays brought about as a result of travel delays which are deemed beyond the control of the insured party. That’s to say claims for short delays might typically cover refreshments and overnight accommodation costs incurred if delays are more prolonged than 5 hours or so and/or if alternative arrangements cannot be sought to avoid inconveniencing the policyholder and/or leaving them out of pocket through no fault of their own.


EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) – This Europe-only available free card entitles the user to a selection of reduced-cost medical treatment in certain countries found within the EU, and can on occasion run to cover free treatment. Yet the EHIC should never be looked upon as a viable or peace of mind alternative to orthodox health insurance policies or comprehensive travel insurance plans as its scope is somewhat restricted.

Excess – As with the majority of personal insurance products widely available on the market today, an excess is essentially the initial part of an insurance claim (when made) that the insured has to foot themselves. In reality this equates to the policyholder receiving a hypothetical £400 pay-out on a settled claim, if said hypothetical claim submitted totaled £500, in the event of the excess being set at the sum of £100. As always it’s calculated on risk, in as much as the greater the monetary contribution the policymaker stakes from the outset (in terms of a policy excess), the less the premium they pay as it’s acknowledged that you’re shouldering more responsibility for the pre-considered risk.


Family – By this travel insurance companies define as conventional 2-parent families or equally, a single parent family travelling with their child/children (normally under 18-years), who typically all live under the same roof, whom in the eyes of the law are considered to be the legal guardians.


Gap Year – This references a long-duration style travel insurance policy designed specifically for those travelling for extended (and in some case, indefinite) durations. By definition they tend to facilitate an under-50 age limit, and may allow the insured party to sporadically return home (to attend weddings, etc…) without cover lapsing.

General Exclusions – As is the case with many insurance policies, there will duly be excepting to the general rules of the agreement and which fundamentally aren’t covered; for a multitude of reasons. Providing you’re aware of this from the outset of signing a travel insurance plan then all well and good. Just for the record, these general travel insurance exclusions are usually discovered in either the front or back of the policy document and yes, tend to be crafted in small-ish print. So keep your wits about you.

Geographical Limit/Area – In a nutshell this represents the countries and areas within each country/continent that a policyholder’s specific travel insurance plan affords them the luxury (or rather, protection) of exploring/experiencing/enjoying. These are obviously itemised by both parties whilst the policy is being prepared and before it’s ratified as such. Worth noting that should the policyholder submit a claim while journeying/holidaying in areas excluded (or strongly urged against travelling to and through) by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, then odds on it won’t be upheld and will be pretty much refused by the travel insurance provider.


Hazardous Activities (Also known elsewhere – and more specifically as – ‘winter sports cover’ and ‘activity insurance’) – This phrase is used to cover a multitude of extra-curricular pursuits and popular pastimes regularly participated in by increasing numbers of specialist holidaymakers. We’re talking sports and activities which are known to present a higher degree of risk than walking down Blackpool prom on a windy day, and habitually include the likes of canyoning, base-jumping, wakeboarding, scuba-diving, snowboarding, zorbing and sky-diving to name but a few. You can bet your bottom dollar that most mainstream UK travel insurers will note these within its policy exclusion zones, so it’s imperative that the insured party checks prior to jetting off. However a policyholder can always have a hazardous activity feature as a policy add-on as and when required.


Joint Cover – Despite sounding like a targeted medical insurance package which safeguards over-worked limbs while on our annual jollies, ‘Joint Cover’ is of course the term regarding two people sourcing travel insurance protection as the one entity. More normally snapped up by couples or close friends/long-standing travel companions, this type of dedicated insurance policy could potentially reduce travel plan premiums by representing better value for money than the two single policies.


Legal Expenses – There’s always the risk that for one reason or another a travel insurance policyholder will dispute costs or unresolved issues which arise from holiday scenarios which go awry, with the travel operator, airline or hotel. Sometimes it’s just unavoidable. With this in mind it’s imperative that the insured party box ticks the ‘legal expenses cover’ option on associated policy literature from the off, so as to counter any legal proceedings which might be instigated at a later date.

Limits/Level of Cover – This details the exact limits of a financial settlement a policyholder can expect to receive should a claim be made on the insured party’s travel insurance package. Upper limits will be clearly identified within a typical policy, and policyholder’s are advised to ensure that this fiscal limitation meets with any preconceived requirements in the event of a claim being lodged. For instance, if your holiday was cancelled would the mooted figure compensate for the loss of holiday bearing in mind the costs already incurred re: flights, accommodation, etc…?


Medical Assistance Company – This is the company recommended (and subsequently appointed) by travel insurance providers at the juncture of rubber-stamping any contract agreement by all parties. It’s the medical assistance company’s job to arrange appropriate levels of medical care and attention in emergency situations which might arise during the policyholder’s holiday/travels; routinely fronting a 24 hours a day/365 days a year point of immediate contact.

Multi Trip Policy – Please see ‘Annual Multi Trip’ policy above.


Period of Insurance – This refers specifically to the passage of time which plays out from the moment the travel insurance policyholder leaves their home in the UK to the time in which they return to said residence and moreover ALL the time in between these pivotal points.

Personal Liability – This terminology bears direct reference to the legal liability which befalls the travel insurance policyholder to arrange with their provider, and which ostensibly covers the insured for accidental damage or injuries sustained by a third party and/or property belonging to that third party during the pre-defined period of insurance expanded on above.

Pre-Existing Medical Condition – This bears relevance to any medical and/or underlying health conditions which a policyholder knew about prior to taking out a travel insurance package with their provider. A timely declaration needs to be made to the appropriate insurance party – documenting any previous or dormant medical conditions which may crop up at any time in the future – and which you take prescribed medication to control the effects of in the meantime. Chiefly these refer to insured parties who may have been diagnosed/treated (or still in the process of being treated) for such serious conditions as heart-related ones, circulatory, respiratory, stroke or cancerous episodes presented to any level during the past 2 years, and leading up to a scheduled holiday. Learn more >>> A guide to getting travel insurance with pre-existing medical conditions


Reasonable Care – Travel insurance providers insist that policyholders adopt the same standard of due care and attention, concerning both the individual(s) in question and their property/possessions when travelling near or far, as they would if they hadn’t utilised the umbrella of travel insurance packages.

Repatriation – The phrase implemented by the travel insurance industry with implicit regard to policyholders being left with no other choice than to prematurely return home in the direct aftermath of sustaining an illness or injury which compromises the continuation of their holiday/travel itinerary. The ramifications and logistics of which would be agreed to in advance as per the terms and conditions signed up to, which sanction the approved Medical Assistance Company to oversee its responsibilities.


Single Trip Insurance – This is the label/brand name coined by the travel insurance industry as the opposite of ‘Annual Multi Trip’ or ‘Multi Trip’ policies and essentially referring directly to one trip holidays or travel arrangements. Geared up towards those who envisage the single overseas adventure/expedition of sorts during any one 12 month period, the single trip policy won’t unfortunately cover as many hazardous sports and activities which its annual multi trip counterpart will support as standard.


Travelling Companions – These are – as the phrase implies – the people the policyholder chooses to accompany them on holiday/their travels. And typically include partners, family and close friends for the most part.


Undiagnosed Condition – This bears relevance to medical/health conditions which the policyholder may be suffering from, yet have not yet been diagnosed by a medical practitioner. Travel insurance providers cannot offer policies for conditions which haven’t been officially diagnosed and/or under investigation by specialist health professionals.