YOUR GUIDE TO CHOOSING THE RIGHT TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance and coronavirus
- Many travel insurers have now suspended the sale of new policies entirely
- Only a limited number of insurers are offering policies that cover COVID-19, Staysure and SAGA are among providers who do.
While some providers might still be offering specialist travel insurance, the government’s effective ban on travel now applies indefinitely. In this case it makes sense to wait until restrictions are lifted – and you have a clear date when you can travel again – to buy a new travel insurance policy.
If you have a trip booked for later in the year but do not have insurance, you might consider looking for a policy to provide cancellation cover for a reason other than a coronavirus-related issue, such as bereavement or divorce.
However, you would need to scrutinise the policy wording to check what cover was provided and confirm your understanding with the insurer before buying. You would also have to consider the fact that you might not be able to undertake the trip anyway because of the pandemic restrictions, in which case you would not be able to claim.
If you’re diagnosed with coronavirus before you are able to get home to the UK, you will need to seek medical treatment first. If you fall ill, tell your insurer immediately and they will advise you of your options.
As far as travel insurance is concerned, your situation will depend on where you are, what treatment you receive and your medical prognosis.
Insurers are responding differently to the situation as it develops, so you’ll need to ask them for advice and support.
What if I contract Coronavirus whilst abroad?
If you fall ill in Europe, your European Health Insurance Card will entitle you to treatment on the same terms as a local citizen (this will remain the case at least until the end of the Brexit transition period, which runs until 31 December 2020).
If you are further afield, your travel insurance should meet any medical expenses you incur, provided you did not ignore government travel advice. You may also be able to claim for additional expenses incurred because of your prolonged stay overseas, such as bed and board for other members of your party.
If you are placed into quarantine abroad, you may also be able to claim for out-of-pocket expenses, but as ever, you’ll need to check with your insurer.
Brexit and insurance - updated January 2020
There are no changes to the rules on travelling to the EU before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.
If you are travelling in the European Economic Area or Switzerland during this time, you can apply for and continue to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), as you did before. The EHIC gives you the right to access emergency state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in those countries..
Remember that the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property. It is not valid on cruises.
You should make sure your travel insurance covers your healthcare needs.
When taking out travel insurance you should also check:
- the level of healthcare cover it includes
- the travel disruption cover it includes
- the terms and conditions
Contact your insurer if you have any questions about your travel cover.
For people visiting the EU, we recommend buying travel insurance to ensure you can travel safely. You should make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy, and that the policy is sufficient to cover possible disruption.
If you already have travel insurance to cover your trip, your insurer should let you know if there will be any changes to the way your policy is serviced that will affect you after the UK leaves the EU. If you have questions about what your travel insurance policy covers, or whether the policy is sufficient to cover possible disruption, you may wish to contact your insurer.
You have booked your next holiday and now it is time to start thinking about getting some travel insurance. By having the right level of cover when you travel means that you can relax and enjoy your time away, without those niggling ‘what ifs’.
But choosing the right cover can be tough, especially with so many different policies available. Are you going with family or friends? Are you going to Europe or travelling further afield? Will you be taking part in any sporting activities? These are the type of questions you need to ask yourself before deciding on an insurance policy. All insurance policies differ in terms of cover and cost depending on what you’ll be doing and where you’re going. So before you buy your travel insurance read our guide for help finding the best cover for you.
Why do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is intended to protect you in case something goes wrong. It can cover you for a range of problems such as medical costs if you are taken ill or injured abroad and holiday horrors such as lost luggage or stolen possessions.
Some policies can even provide cover for unexpected issues such as redundancy and extra costs for pet care in cases of longer delays.
The average cost if you fall ill on holiday and need hospital treatment is approximately 1,200€ per night at a private hospital here in Spain. Without travel insurance many travelers would have to borrow from family and friends if things didn’t go to plan, a stress most of us could do without.
The different types of holiday insurance
Single trip – If you are planning one holiday a year a single trip policy may be suitable.
Annual insurance – If you are a frequent traveler then an annual multi trip policy may be suitable, this can be cheaper than buying multiple single trip policies. This can also cover you for short UK breaks but you would need to check your policy.
European or worldwide cover – European cover is often cheaper than worldwide insurance. Many of the popular holiday destinations such as Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia are not always covered by a European policy. You will need to check that your intended holiday destination is covered under the correct cover.
Single, couple or family policy – If you travel with a partner or your family look into getting a joint policy as this can bring costs down. The definition of ‘family’ can differ from various insurers so check the small print and find out who is covered before you buy.
Active – If you will be taking part in any sporting activities or going on excursions let your insurance companies know so that you can check that you have the appropriate level of cover. Some insurance companies include certain activities but charge extras for others. If you plan to be active whilst on your holiday it is essential you check that the activities you want to do is included in the policy you have bought. If it is not included you may have the option to pay extra to have this included but this depends on the insurance policy. It is important to always book trips abroad with a reputable supplier, and, if in doubt, check with the insurance company.
Older travellers – Policies that cover older travelers can prove costly. You may want to try a specialist insurance firm to compare costs and what is covered as these policies often include a number of common pre-existing medical conditions.
The level of cover you need
You need to ensure you choose the right type of cover for your individual needs. The cheapest policy might not always be best for you. Travel insurance can vary a great deal and extras can be added on to them, but it is important that your policy should have the following basic level of cover:
Personal liability – In case you need to pay for any damage or accidents you cause.
Cancellation or curtailment – In case you need to cut short or cancel your holiday or your hotel or flights are cancelled. This could be used if you lose your job, a close relative falls ill while you are away or need to come home earlier than planned.
Medical emergency – To cover the cost of treatment due to sudden illness or through an accident you have whilst on holiday. Your cover should also include repatriation in case you need to be flown back to the UK.
Pre-existing medical conditions – You need to declare any health issues you have when applying for travel insurance, failure to do this may make your policy invalid or may mean you are not protected by your policy in the event of a claim. You will find a list of Insurance companies that cover pre-existing medical conditions HERE
Delays – This coverage is designed to cover you for long delays. You may need to get the airline to confirm this in writing and also keep any receipts for items you’ve bought due to the delays.
Loss or theft – This can cover the cost of replacing money, personal items or replacing luggage should anything be lost stolen or damaged.
Emergency assistance – Most insurance companies offer a 24 hours emergency helpline. This can be a real life saver when you are in a different time zone.
Every year we see in the newspapers cases where holiday makers have been refused hospital treatment or been given huge medical bills due to travelling uninsured or not disclosing pre-existing medical conditions. Can you really afford not to take out travel insurance?
What ever policy you choose make sure it also covers your personal belongings and baggage during your trip in case they are lost, stolen or damaged. This can be purchased as an extra add-on with many policies. Sometimes you may be covered under your home insurance if you have cover for items away from home (usually called personal belongings) however you would need to contact your home insurance provider.
All policies differ greatly and what is covered by one policy, isn’t guaranteed to be covered by others. It is vital that you are thorough when reading documentation and if in doubt, ask. This guide is intended to help you chose the right policy for you but it important to do your research when choosing a policy and ensure you understand exactly the level of cover you are buying.
Visiting Europe from 1st January 2021
Healthcare: check you’re covered
You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020.
It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.
Compensation if your travel is disrupted
Some travel insurance policies only cover certain types of disruption. Check your provider’s terms and conditions to make sure you have the cover you need if your travel is cancelled or delayed.
Your consumer rights will not change from 1 January 2021. This means that if your travel is cancelled or delayed you may be able to claim a refund or compensation. Check your booking’s terms and conditions to find out more.
If your travel company goes out of business
You’re protected if you buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business. You get this cover even if it’s an EU company, as long as the company targets UK customers.
Otherwise, you can claim compensation if you used your credit card. You’ll continue to be able to claim for payments between £100 and £30,000.