“It is essential that holidaymakers have adequate travel insurance in place before jetting off on their holidays,” says Bob Atkinson of moneysupermarket.com. He adds: “Travel insurance offers holidaymakers the peace of mind that they are covered for lost or stolen possessions, holiday cancellations, personal liability and a range of other costly possibilities.” The first step, according to Andrew Ferguson of M&S Money, is to check if your bank account, or credit card, comes with free travel insurance and whether baggage cover comes under your home insurance. However he cautions travellers to check these offer the level of cover you want.
Andrew Hagger of moneynet.co.uk notes that despite the fact that some people might question whether it is worth paying £10 or £20 for travel insurance, “if you were to become ill while away and require medical treatment, or if you were to have to cancel or cut short your holiday, that £10 or £20 could be recouped at least 50 times over.” He adds: “If you were to have an emergency that required you to cancel your holiday altogether, you could easily waste thousands of pounds in non-refundable airfares and hotel costs.”
2 GET AN EHIC
Even though just 37 per cent of the Europe’s population, at the last polling, had heard of the European Health Insurance Card (Ehic), anyone travelling beyond their borders should definitely get one. It grants access to state-provided healthcare in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland, at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge and is free to apply for at www.euhealthcard.org. The Ehic is a must, but the NHS advises it “is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as mountain rescue in ski resorts, repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property.” But even if you aren’t leaving these shores, Vanessa Chance of insurer LV= suggests getting coverage. Their research shows many people travelling within the UK are losing on the costs of hotels and flights if forced to cancel.
3 CHECK THE SMALL PRINT
Atkinson notes it’s worth remembering that you might not be covered for some extreme activities on holiday, such as bungee-jumping, which an insurer could class as “hazardous”. Kate Rose of confused.com suggests that if not already covered, travellers should buy insurance at the point of booking holidays. She notes: “Many travellers purchase insurance at the last minute with only lost baggage and medical cover in mind, however almost all policies offer cancellation cover of varied values which will be invaluable in the event your holiday is cancelled.” Rose suggests this is “extremely important given the increased strikes at airports and airlines at present.”
Ferguson says: “The absolute most important thing is to ensure you disclose any pre-existing medical conditions before you travel.” Not doing so can invalidate your policy. Hagger points out that although many people tend to concentrate on cover for cancellation, loss or theft of baggage or money, “the biggest potential risk and expense is if you become ill or have an accident abroad. This, along with liability cover – if you injure somebody else – is probably the key part of the policy.” He says: “A decent policy will offer at least £2m for medical expenses, with third party liability cover of a similar level.”
Getting travel insurance shouldn’t be a matter of whether or not, but how much. With plenty of online competition, costs are remarkably low, so there really are no excuses.
SUGGESTED MINIMUM LEVEL FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE POLICIES
£2m for medical expenses
£1m personal liability
£3,000 cancellation – or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday
£250 for cash
Policy excesses under £100
Cover for scheduled airline failure and end supplier failure (as desirable)
Delay cover (e.g. £20/hour for first 12 hours)