New data from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has found that a quarter of travellers went abroad with no travel insurance in the last year, up 3% on 2016’s figures.
The figures were even higher for millennials, with 40% of people aged between 18 and 24 travelling abroad uninsured. The average cost of medical cover overseas is £2,040 – so it’s wise to make sure you buy suitable travel insurance when you book your holiday.
Types of travel insurance
When travelling abroad, the cover you choose can depend on the answers to these questions:
- Who? – how many people are going together, and how old are they?
- Where? – do you need worldwide or European cover? Is it a place the Foreign Office have advised is too dangerous to visit?
- How often? – would you need single or multi-trip cover? And when is the best time to purchase cover?
- What? (are you going to do?) – certain sports and activities may cost more to insure
- Which? (pre-existing medical conditions) – a higher risk of illness may cost more to insure
Who needs travel insurance?
If you’re travelling with anyone else other than yourself, you can usually get the following types of cover:
- Couple travel insurance – for you and your partner if you live together
- Single-parent family cover – for one adult and a number of children
- Family travel insurance – for two adults plus up to four children that live with you
- Couple and one child cover – can be a cheaper alternative to family cover if available
Travel insurance premiums can increase significantly from the age of 65. Some insurers specialise in cover for older travellers, for example those that regularly take cruises or travel abroad more than once a year.
How much travel insurance cover do I need?
Levels of cover and excess policies will vary, but most travel insurance will cover the following:
- Medical expenses – emergency medical and surgical treatment that cannot be delayed
- Cancellation – having to cut your trip short for reasons beyond your control
- Delays/missed transport – eg: if you miss your plane due to adverse weather conditions*
- Repatriation – the cost of having to travel back at a different time for medical reasons
- Baggage – if it is lost, stolen or damaged or destroyed
- Personal liability – in case you are found liable for damage to someone else or their property
*In the light of the British Airways computer failures on May 26-28, it’s worth pointing out that under European Union law, you are entitled to claim compensation for cancelled or delayed flights that either a)were operated by a European airline or b) departed within the EU.
What’s the EHIC card?
If you’re taken ill abroad in the EU or selected other European countries, the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) – while no substitute for proper travel insurance – will at least get you the same state health care available to citizens, which is often free. It only covers medical care though – if you lose your bags or miss your flight, you’ll need full travel insurance.
Do you need special cover for sports and activities?
You are likely to need specialist cover for more adventurous, sporty holidays. This can range from those that carry obvious risks, such as winter sports, scuba diving or bungee jumping, but also if you plan to ride motorbikes, go kayaking, and so on. There is also specialist cover for backpacking around the globe, or any travel plan without a clear idea of where you’re going to be or what you’re going to do.
Single or multi-trip cover?
Most policies last a year, so if you think you’ll be going away more than once in that time, annual or multi-trip cover will usually work out cheaper than single trips. It could also allow to make trips at short notice without having to arrange new travel insurance every time. Bear in mind though that a a week of winter sports and bungee jumping in New Zealand may not be covered in the multi-trip cover you first got for a quiet weekend in the Loire Valley, so you might have to get different cover.
What are pre-existing medical conditions?
Policies vary between insurers, but as a general rule you need to declare in your application if you are awaiting an operation or test results on a medical condition, if you’ve had a serious medical condition in the past, or if you have seen the doctor or a hospital in the past year. It may affect the price of your cover, and in some cases it may lead to cover not being available.
Being honest about these when you book your insurance is crucial, as it could affect any claim you make if you keep it hidden.
How do I compare travel insurance?
Cover varies depending on so many of the reasons above, so it’s best not just to look at the cheapest deals around, but the actual cover that suits you best – and then compare those.
Remember, if you lose your bags or get them stolen, miss your flight or are taken ill, you’ll be glad that you’re financially protected.
This article was kindly sponsored by The Telegraph UK