Travel insurance explained
If you’re planning on travelling, it’s important that you cover yourself with travel insurance in case the worst should happen. In this guide, Latest Deals breaks down exactly what travel insurance is, why you need it, how to find the best travel insurance for you, and answers any questions you may have.
Can I get travel insurance with Covid cover?
If you’re thinking of going away, it’s important to know that you can get travel insurance with Covid cover. However, it’s important to understand the risks, and to find suitable cover.
Most insurers now offer travel insurance Covid medical cover. But, there are lots of different scenarios involved with this, and you likely won’t be covered for all of them.
Firstly, you should know the risks about what happens to your insurance if government travel restrictions change. With most insurers, you won’t be covered at all if you travel somewhere against the advice of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). You also likely won’t get cancellation cover if restrictions to the UK or the country you’re travelling to prevent you from going. However, this will vary depending on your provider.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Travel is still very much in flux, and the restrictions in the UK and abroad can change at any time. So, it’s important to be careful when booking a holiday. Try and book as flexibly as possible, and make sure you understand the terms of your covid travel insurance so that you know the financial risk you’re incurring.
Why is travel insurance important?
Travel insurance acts as a safety net if things go wrong while you’re abroad. So, if you lose your baggage, your flights or accommodation are delayed or cancelled, or you become ill, travel insurance can help you. Without travel insurance, you would need to cover the cost of these mishaps yourself, and they could be very expensive.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is designed to cover any unseen costs from problems you may experience while travelling. From theft, cancelled trips, lost baggage or injury, travel insurance can cover you against issues you don’t see coming.
However, it’s important to note that travel insurance doesn’t protect you from everything, and different policies will have different inclusions. So, it’s important to check a travel insurance policy carefully before taking it out.
What does travel insurance cover?
Different travel insurance policies will cover for different scenarios, but there are certain things that you should look out for that are covered by most providers.
If you need to cancel your holiday because of a circumstance covered by your travel insurance policy, you will be able to claim back the cost of the cancelled trip up to a certain amount.
If you face delays, cancellations or disruptions to your trip, you may be able to claim back money for parts of your trip that were impacted, for example hotel stays or flights.
Baggage and belongings
If your baggage or belongings are damaged, lost or stolen whilst you’re travelling, through travel insurance you may be able to claim back the value up to a certain amount.
If you’re travelling abroad, medical costs can be very expensive, particularly in the USA. With travel insurance, you can claim for the cost of care, if you become ill or are injured while travelling.
If you fall ill and need to be sent back to the UK to receive specialist treatment, your travel insurance may cover the cost of this. This is called repatriation and can be very expensive to handle yourself if you don’t have travel insurance cover.
If you’re involved in an accident where you are at fault, for example damaging someone else’s possessions, personal liability cover on your travel insurance can cover the cost of legal fees.
What does Covid travel insurance cover?
If you have Covid-19 cover on your travel insurance, it likely won’t cover you in every scenario. Here are some of the scenarios you may or may not be covered for. It’s important to check before taking out Covid travel insurance, to make sure you’re covering as many bases as possible.
- You or someone you’re travelling with gets Covid-19 and can’t travel
You will be covered for this on most travel insurance policies, as long as you’re not travelling against government advice
- You or someone you’re travelling with is told to isolate by the NHS Test & Trace app or the NHS Covid App and can’t travel
Some policies will cover you for this, so it’s important to check your insurer’s website carefully.
- You can’t travel due to government restrictions either in the UK or your destination country
Some policies will cover for this, and some will not, so make sure you’re clear on whether or not your policy does.
- You don’t feel safe travelling and don’t want to go
Most travel insurance policies will not cover you for this.
What is not covered by travel insurance?
If you’re travelling and you have taken out travel insurance, it’s important to read the terms of your cover carefully. Above we listed the various types of cover most travel insurance will include as standard, and there are certain things that most insurers won’t cover you for. These include:
- Certain destinations: if the government has advised against travel to a particular country or region, your insurance could become invalidated.
- Excessive drinking: if you’re claiming for something that happened as a result of excess drinking, your insurer may not pay out on your claim. It’s important to read your policy terms carefully, as some insurers won’t pay out on claims where you’ve had only one alcoholic drink.
- Terrorism: if you’re claiming for something that happened as a result of an act of terrorism, this usually won’t be covered under most policies.
- Undisclosed medical conditions: if you have pre-existing medical conditions and you don’t disclose them to your insurer, your cover could become invalidated.
Additional travel insurance cover options
While there are certain things most travel insurers will cover, and certain things they likely won’t, there are also things you can opt for as additional cover. This can be helpful if your policy doesn’t include some of the standard options listed previously, or if you think you’ll need cover for additional circumstances.
Below are some examples of other options you may want to add on to your policy:
- Winter sports: you may be able to get cover for potential medical costs or cover for expensive equipment associated with winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding.
- Gadgets: you may be able to add specific cover for any gadgets you’re travelling with against theft, loss or damage.
- Watersports: if your holiday involves any watersports, such as scuba diving, specific watersports policy will cover your equipment and medical costs.
- Golf: if you’re travelling with expensive golfing equipment, adding specific golf cover to your policy can protect it against theft, loss or damage.
- Passports: if your passport is lost or stolen while travelling, having specific passport cover on your policy can help you resolve any issues.
- Natural disasters: you may be able to find cover to protect you from any injuries or losses sustained from a natural disaster occuring.
- Wedding cover: if you’re travelling for a destination wedding, you may be able to get additional cover for the dress or rings and so on.
Different types of travel insurance
There are different types of travel insurance cover depending on how long you’ll need the cover for.
Single trip travel insurance
Single trip travel insurance is designed for one-off holidays. So, if you’re planning on just one trip for any length of time up to a year, this is the type of cover to look into.
Annual multi trip travel insurance
If you’re planning multiple holidays in a year, you may be able to get cheaper travel insurance with annual multi trip cover. This will cover you for multiple holidays within a year, usually with a maximum trip length of 30 days.
Backpackers travel insurance
Backpacker travel insurance offers cover for travel over a longer period of time, so it’s ideal if you’re planning a long-term trip. The maximum time limit with backpacker travel insurance is usually between a year and 18 months.
Cruise travel insurance
Cruise travel insurance is designed for travellers on cruise ships. If for any reason your trip is disrupted, for example you miss a port stop due to bad weather, or you have to quarantine in your cabin due to an on-board illness, cruise travel insurance can cover you.
Where can you go with travel insurance?
There are also specific types of travel insurance for particular destinations.
If you’re planning on a holiday in Europe, you’ll need to take out European travel insurance. This will cover you for trips within Europe. It’s important to double check what your insurer classifies as ‘European’ as some providers have different rules for which countries fall under this cover.
Worldwide (with exclusions)
If you’re travelling outside Europe, you’ll need worldwide travel insurance. However, you can also get worldwide travel insurance with exclusions. This usually excludes the USA, Canada and the Caribbean (check with your specific provider for their inclusions before taking out the policy) and is therefore cheaper than worldwide cover, as medical costs are usually high in the excluded countries.
With a worldwide policy, you’ll be covered wherever you travel in the world. However, it’s important to keep an eye on government regulations and restrictions, as this can affect your cover.
Can I get travel insurance with medical conditions?
If you have a pre-existing medical condition and you’re looking for travel insurance, it’s essential that you give your provider details of this. This includes any pre-existing conditions and treatment you’ve had.
Usually, you will be able to get travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition, but you’ll likely need to pay more for your cover. If you fail to disclose medical conditions to your insurer, your travel insurance could be invalidated.
There are certain conditions that must be declared, and these usually include asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart conditions. It’s important to check with your insurer about which conditions would be excluded from your policy.
If you’re struggling to get travel insurance
If you’re struggling to find travel insurance cover, there are a few resources you can use that might be able to help.
Firstly, you can look at the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) website for a list of specialist insurers.
Or, you can ring the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) on 0370 950 1790 for more advice.
How to find the best travel insurance?
Before taking out cover, it’s important to find the best travel insurance for you. In this article you will have seen that there are different types of policies, and the right one for you will depend on what type of traveller you are, and where you’re going.
So, firstly you should determine whether you’ll need single or annual multi trip travel insurance. Then you can consider where you’re going in the world and which type of cover (European, worldwide exclusive or worldwide) is appropriate. And then you can think about who you’ll need cover for, so whether you’re travelling alone or if you’ll need family travel insurance.
You will have seen examples of the different types of inclusions available for cover with travel insurance. You should consider which options are essential to you, for example repatriation or protection for baggage, and then look for cover where these are included as standard.
Then, you may want to consider any extra coverage you want to add on. For example, if you’re going on a skiing holiday, you may want to add on winter sports cover, or if you’re worried about being stranded abroad you may want to add on passport cover.
Once you’ve made these decisions and you know what you’re looking for from your cover, you can then find the cheapest travel insurance available, that still covers you against everything you need it to.
Find cheap travel insurance
It’s important not to compromise on your coverage in your hunt for cheap travel insurance, but there are certain things you can do to ensure you find the best travel insurance for you at the best price.
- Shop around
There are lots of different travel insurance providers, and it’s important to find a reputable insurer at a price that is competitive. Before setting up a policy, you should shop around and compare prices between providers, to ensure that you’re getting the best price available.
- Decline optional extras
As important as it is to include extras you think you’ll need, it’s equally important to make sure you’re not paying for things you likely won’t need. So, when setting up your travel insurance, make sure you decline optional extras you don’t think are necessary for you and your circumstances.
- Policy type
Lastly, you should ensure that you’re not paying more than you have to when it comes to the policy itself. For example, if you’re travelling to Thailand, make sure that you’re paying for worldwide travel insurance with exclusions, rather than worldwide. Or, if you’re going on a single holiday, make sure that you pay for single trip travel insurance, rather than annual multi trip travel insurance.
How do I make a claim on my travel insurance?
If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, it’s important to do everything you can to make sure your claim will be accepted.
- Keep essential documents
Make sure you have your policy documents close at hand, including your insurance policy reference number. That way, when you contact your insurer they will be able to quickly find your details and look at your claim. It will also ensure that you know exactly what you’re covered for.
- Alert the authorities
If you’re making an insurance claim because of a crime, it’s important to report the crime to the authorities as soon as possible. Some insurers will only pay out on a crime if it has been reported within a certain period of time, for example 24 hours.
- Act quickly
If you think you need to claim on your travel insurance, you should contact your insurer as quickly as possible to make sure they’ll cover you for what you need. This is particularly important if you’re claiming for medical expenses. Some insurers may need confirmation of the treatments you’ll be receiving before paying out, to check that it is included in your policy.
Some insurers have a 24 hour contact number, so it’s worth checking this in your documents before travelling so you know how to contact them in an emergency.
- Gather evidence
Your travel insurance claim has a better chance of being successful if you include as much information as possible. So, providing receipts as proof of ownership, police reports or medical reports can seriously help your chances, and for some insurers will be essential to your claim being paid out on.
What if my travel insurance claim is rejected?
If your travel insurance claim is rejected and you feel it is unfair, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman.
For more information on how to make a complaint, you can read our guide here.