Choose The Right Travel Insurance

Posted on: 17 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

A comprehensive guide to ensure you're covered in the event of holiday emergencies.

Britons are travelling further afield in search of the ultimate holiday experience, but around 1 in 7 travellers still go abroad without any travel insurance.

Yet a report from financial research company Defaqto shows that most travel insurance policies have never been cheaper than today.

In the report, Travel Insurance 2008 - Adapting to a Changing World, Defaqto has analysed prices for over 235 single trip and 245 annual travel policies, looking at how premiums have moved since 2002. The only area where premiums have increased in the past year was for annual travel cover to the USA. However premiums are still lower than they were in 2003, even before inflation is taken into account.

"The availability of a huge number of policies, many of them online, has driven many insurers to lower their premiums," says report author Brian Brown. "Single trip cover to Europe can now be bought for as little as £6 for a week's holiday."

So there's no need to scrimp on travel insurance. Use comparison websites to compare prices, and check that you are buying cover suitable for your needs.

Bypass The Travel Agent & Shop Around

Choose the best deal from an independent provider rather than accepting the standard deal from your travel agent, and you could save nearly £70, according to Moneysupermarket.

Use a price comparison website to find insurance policies from many different providers.

How Much?

Moneysupermarket recommends at least the following level of travel cover:

Medical expenses: £2 million

Personal liability: £1 million

Cancellation: £3,000, or at least the value of your holiday

Baggage: £1,500

Cash: £250

Know Your Cover

Travellers should be careful to ensure they understand what they are buying, since all policies offer differing levels of cover. Consider what activities you're going to be doing, because holidaymakers planning to do winter sports, diving, climbing and on on need more cover than those intending simply to relax on the beach.

If you are planning to enjoy an active holiday, check the level of cover on your policy. For example, going off-piste on a winter sports holiday may not be covered.

Personal accident and medical cover are vital.

Check cancellation and baggage cover, to ensure it's not below the value of the holiday or your belongings. You chould be covered against loss, theft or damage of your possessions, including costly ski equipment. The standard cancellation cover is £3,000, so for more expensive trips such as ski holidays, ensure it meets the cost of the holiday.

Are You Covered?

Cancellation

Lost Luggage

Delays

Ditching Package Holidays For DIY?

Single Trip Or Annual?

Single trip policies are not always cheaper than annual multi-trip cover. It pays to shop around, especially if you are travelling more than once a year. There are obvious savings to be made, especially when winter sports cover is included.

Research from Moneysupermarket shows that the cheapest worldwide annual multi-trip policy, including winter sports cover, for a family of four, costs under £58 from Flexicover Direct. In contrast, the cheapest single-trip policy to the US for two weeks costs over £73. What's more, the annual multi-trip offers more comprehensive cover with double the medical expenses limit. Even the cheapest one-week single trip policy costs more at over £61.

If you take less than a couple of breaks each year, to Europe, single trip policies may work out cheaper. A family of four can get worldwide travel insurance for a two-week trip for less than £30, compared to under £14 in Europe

Medical Treatment

For a visit to an European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland, the E111 form is no longer valid. You will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive necessary healthcare.

The EHIC is normally valid for three to five years and covers any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip, because of either illness or an accident. The card gives access to state-provided medical treatment only, and you'll be treated on the same basis as an 'insured' person living in the country you're visiting. Remember, this might not cover all the things you'd expect to get free of charge from the NHS in the UK. You may have to make a contribution to the cost of your care.

In most countries around the world you will have to pay for treatment so travellers are strongly advised to take out private health insurance.

The UK has reciprocal healthcare agreements with some countries, which enables travellers to receive free or low cost emergency care.

It's wise to take out comprehensive private travel insurance for visits to all countries, regardless of whether you are covered by your EHIC. Private travel insurance will cover any contribution which is not reimbursable, as well as other eventualities not covered by the EHIC.

Age

Many insurers increase their prices for over 40s, and keep on raising them as you get older. Price comparison websites should include details of suitable policies.

However if you are having problems finding a policy, Help The Aged, Age Concern and other over 50s specialists may be able to offer one. If their quotes are uncompetitive, opting for a single trip policy and excluding pre-existing medical conditions may help to keep the cost down, though only if these are appropriate for you.

UK Breaks

Last year, over 200 million Brits took an overnight holiday in the UK and with the pound struggling against the Euro, it's likely even more people will take their mini-breaks on our shores this year.

You can insure yourself while holidaying in the UK, where lost or stolen personal possessions, cancellations, medical emergencies and motor breakdowns can affect holidaymakers as they do in exotic locations. Such a precaution could prevent you having to stump up an extortionate breakdown call-out fee or shell out to replace personal possessions - you could be carrying a small fortune including cameras and baggage which may not be covered by your contents insurance.

Figures from Moneysupermarket show a week's UK travel cover is available from £6.20 for a family of four and annual motor breakdown cover from £42. City break enthusiasts, who hold annual European cover, can add UK cover to their policy free of charge.

Web Links

Holidaymakers can check how their travel policy compares with any other product in the market by using Defaqto's Compare tool, which shows the key items of cover for each of the single trip, annual travel and winter sports policies held on Defaqto's database. It's available online at: www.defaqto.com

Price comparison website: www.moneysupermarket.com

EHIC and health advice for travellers: www.dh.gov.uk/en/Healthcare/Healthadvicefortravellers

Price comparison website: www.confused.com

Insurance comparison website: www.insurancewide.com

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