Preparing for a holiday can be an exciting and busy time, and as a result an alarming number of people neglect to consider buying travel insurance.Such a simple oversight can often have devastating after-effects when something goes wrong, and many fail to consider just how many things can go wrong whilst travelling. You should consider what you might do should you fall ill or require medical attention while away. For example, an air ambulance from the USA to have you repatriated back into the country can cost in excess of £50,000. Perhaps your belongings and cash are stolen, leaving you stranded, or maybe you don't even make it to your holiday - unfortunately suffering a bereavement, redundancy or personal injury shortly before. The travel agency could cease to exist, taking your money with them, or perhaps there's a natural disaster at your destination before you fly out. These are all things which need to be thought about, and with careful consideration about your needs, the right policy should have you well covered for most eventualities.
Hopefully none of that has put you off your holiday plans. We'll guide you through the maze of travel insurance options with our easy to follow breakdown. This will enable you to ensure you have adequate cover, and avoid many of the pitfalls and loopholes people often fall prey to when investing in travel insurance.Basic Coverage
Insurance policies vary greatly. No doubt you'll be looking to get good value for money, whilst also ensuring you have adequate cover. You should look for a basic package that offers the following coverage:Flight Delay
Generally, in the event that your flight is delayed for longer than twelve hours you will be compensated. Should this happen, you should request confirmation after the event from the airline company, as well as keeping the receipts of anything you buy during the delay as these can be claimed back and used for further evidence in the case of any difficulties with your claim.Cancellation
You may need to cancel your holiday for a number of reasons. Most providers will offer this in the case of illness to yourself or a family member, and for other reasons such as redundancy or bereavement; but it's advised to carefully check your policy to see what's stipulated there as it can vary. Also, ensure that the total coverage (after deduction of the excess charge) is equal to the cost of your holiday, including any trips or excursions you've paid for in advance.Medical Cover
Possibly the most important type of coverage, due to the sheer cost of medical aid when abroad. The recommended amount of cover is £2 million, which should cover any treatment you might require and repatriation into the country. Some companies attach higher values to their policies, but this is apparently for show rather than practicality as the largest claim ever made was around £2m.Luggage & Personal Belongings
You should be looking for a coverage of up to around £1500, depending of course on your needs. Due to the amount of claims for lost baggage, this is one of the things some of the providers cut down to £750 or less in order to offer seemingly cheaper policies. You should also look closely at the specifics for claims about electrical items, as many providers limit such claims to £250 or £500. This is also true of claims for lost or stolen cashPersonal Liability
Accidents happen, and it may be that you injure someone whilst on holiday or damage a property. This type of coverage insures against claims made against you. You should look for coverage of £1 million to be sure
Other ConsiderationsDo you have existing cover?
You might want to double check that you don't already have a level of coverage provided by someone else. For example, many banks and credit card companies offer travel insurance as an incentive for using their products, and some home insurance policies cover your personal belongings outside of your house. You'll need to scrutinise the details of these policies of course to have peace of mind. But they may enable you to save some extra cash by reinforcing them with a cheaper travel insurance policy.Insuring for long holidays
Most policies will only cover you for a period of 31 days. You'll need to check the details of each specific policy if you intend to be away for longer. If you're planning on going backpacking, look for 'long stay' or 'gap year' policies which will cover you for three to eighteen months across several countries.Adventure & Activity Holidays
Most basic policies won't cover even mild 'risky activities' such as camel riding or scuba diving. You can sometimes buy extras to cover common holiday pursuits such as these, but the active and adventurous need to look at more specialist policies. If you're holiday involves white water rafting, rock climbing, bungee jumping, or anything else where you risk serious injury you should look at a specialist package to ensure you have yourself well covered. Essentially you'll pay more, but at least you wont have to worry about anything other than dying.Winter Sports Holidays
Winter Sport policies are a common type of package available to snowboarders and skiers, providing a greater level of coverage for 'risky activities', as well as coverage against expensive equipment and ski passes. As always it's important to check the specific terms of the policy. For example, some providers won't cover the replacement of stolen skis unless they're secured or locked away at the time of theft.Disaster coverage
Traditionally, insurance providers wouldn't cover against 'disaster' scenarios or what might have been deemed 'an act of God'. However since the volcanic eruptions in Iceland caused havoc in 2010 you may now find that your policy covers against 'ash clouds', or something to that effect. If you're travelling to an area which might be susceptible to civil unrest, terrorism or kidnappings, you might like to check each policy in detail for peace of mind against these types of eventuality.
You may be offered travel insurance from several difference sources depending on how you purchase your holiday. For example, many travel agents will offer you insurance should you book through them, or if you're buying airline tickets you may be offered insurance when you reach the checkout. The more savvy of us prefer to take the matter into our own hands and look at a detailed comparison of the available products before committing to the best product for our purpose, but this in itself can feel like a complicated process. The advent of price comparison websites would seemingly provide the ideal tool for comparing and selecting policies. However, the intensity of competitiveness in this marketplace has created a pressure for providers to offer increasingly cheaper policies in order to stay towards the top of the comparison ranking. As a result, providers often compensate for these cheaper prices with measure such as offering a lower overall level of quality, or greatly increasing the 'excess' charge for any valid claims, meaning you might not be covered for the total value of your belongings, or any damages and costs which might occur. You should therefore be cautious when using such websites as to not get caught out. Using this guide as a framework, you should now be able to list out your requirements on paper and have a good idea of what you require before you begin your comparisons.