Travel insurance explained: Is it worth it?
Unlike credit cards, which provide a ‘free’ credit to book holidays, travel insurance policies are usually valid for three years, and cover the whole holiday.
But as part of a package, travel insurance policies include an excess which will be charged if your bill exceeds a certain amount. Travel insurance also provides the benefits and extras you would expect.
A standard policy may cover £1m of medical expenses, if you or your companions are injured. A medical evacuation could get you to safety quickly. Some policies will also pay for travel delays, delays and cancellations due to strikes.
Those travellers who prefer to do their own research are advised to look at the four-star-plus rated provider, including world specialists in trip planning, Sunroad Travel Insurance, which has won or been awarded the Travel Insurance Award.
It is a bit complicated and requires you to input details of every single holiday, but the specialist website Travel Insured has a comprehensive guide on comparing travel insurance.
This comparison site, based in Canada, uses international comparisons to compare several of the world’s leading travel insurance companies. It covers several countries, including Australia, America, Asia, Europe and North Africa, and will even back up and send a replacement passport to your address, if you are required to travel and your passport is stolen or lost in the UK or abroad.
Travel insurance comparisons are a little confusing and all the insurers have a slightly different way of explaining their policies. So here are some key questions that could help you choose which policy would be best for you:
1. Is it better to purchase an annual travel insurance policy for one year or an annual ‘standard’ cover for three years?
The first year policy would cost you £28 a year for three years, whereas the three-year policy would cost you just £4 a year. You would also have to pay an excess on each policy.
However, while buying an annual insurance policy you will have to pay annual premiums, which are more expensive, there is a discount if you pay annually, rather than up front, every year. So if you go the annual premium route, you could save money in the long run.
Another advantage is that annual insurance can be renewed on your chosen policy. But this doesn’t apply to ‘standard’ policies, which will expire unless you renew before its expiry date. It also means if you lose, damage or have a medical emergency during the holiday, you could end up in an expensive situation with out-of-pocket costs.
2. Can I renew my travel insurance policy at any time?
You can go back a year or even to the end of the policy term. But after the expiry date, your policy will end. And if you decide to travel for a third time, it is unlikely you would be able to renew your cover.
3. Is it better to have cover for loss or theft of valuables, or for the loss of the whole holiday?
This is where you might want to avoid ‘standard’ insurance policies. The excess costs can be large, although some insurance companies do offer discounts for coverage for items worth more than £500.
4. Is it better to insure against medical issues rather than the loss of the holiday?
You need to read the terms and conditions carefully to see what cover you are buying, but you will probably be able to include a major medical evacuation if you need it.
Some insurers may even cover overseas hospital treatment, or a doctor’s visit in an English hospital. This means if you fall ill overseas, your insurer will send a medical team to assist you in hospital or send you home. And if you require any further medical treatment or medicine, you will have the claim paid for by the insurer.
5. What extra cover do I need?
For many of us, a major medical evacuation or loss of the whole holiday is unlikely to happen. But some travel insurers will consider an illness or accident ‘catastrophic’, which could bring the policy in to action.
If you have a high medical premium, you could reduce this cost if you put the policy in to cover additional incidents that could happen. This might cover such things as loss of baggage, delayed flights and delays, strikes, and overcrowding. It is worth researching the various benefits and extras that different travel insurers offer.