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While it’s important to get good value for money when buying travel insurance, it’s arguably more important to ensure you’re covered for every eventuality – even if it seems pretty unlikely. When you buy travel insurance, you must think about what could go wrong on your holiday and buy coverage to protect yourself in case it happens, whether that’s losing your baggage, your flight being delayed, needing medical treatment, or the chance you might injure yourself doing a specific activity.

The travel insurance policies you can buy aren’t all equal when it comes to what they cover and to what levels of cover they offer. So, as well as comparing the prices of the travel insurance you’re looking to buy, you should also make a comparison between the things that are covered and levels of cover on offer.

Medical expenses cover

Possibly the most important coverage to get right is your medical expenses cover. This will cover you for your emergency medical bills, emergency dental treatment and usually repatriation up to a certain amount depending on your policy. Getting medical treatment abroad can be costly, so you don’t want to end up with a big bill if you’re taken ill or suffer an injury while on holiday.

If you’re travelling in Europe, experts recommend you take out at least £1 million of cover, while if you are travelling outside Europe, at least £2 million. We offer a minimum of £5 million.

It may be a good idea to get a policy with a higher level of cover for medical expenses if you’re travelling somewhere with expensive medical care. The USA is by far the most expensive healthcare system in the world, followed by Australia.

The ten most expensive healthcare systems (by the cost of basic medical insurance) are, in order:

  1. USA
  2. Australia
  3. Japan
  4. France
  5. Hong Kong
  6. UK
  7. South Africa
  8. Canada
  9. Germany
  10. China

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, these will need to be disclosed to ensure they are covered either within the medical expenses cover or as an extra. If this is applicable to you, the process taken by different insurers varies and this will be a key area of comparison for you. Some insurers cover certain minor conditions as standard, others screen all conditions based on a series of questions.

Repatriation (the process of being taken back home from abroad) is covered under most standard travel insurance policies. For travellers, it usually happens when you fall ill or suffer a medical emergency and need to be returned to your home country, so it can usually be found under the medical emergency expenses section. Repatriation is handled separately from medical expenses because the costs associated with it are potentially high – hiring a specialist air ambulance or emergency helicopter, for example. Cover will vary dependent on your policy choice but typically range between £5 million up to £15 million. It’s recommended that cover should not start any lower than £5 million, so make sure you always compare the various travel insurance policies with that in mind.

Personal liability cover

Personal liability covers you if you’re legally liable for accidentally injuring someone, or damaging or losing their property, while abroad.

If you injure someone, or damage their personal property, they could make a claim for compensation against you. It’s therefore a good idea to choose an insurer who is willing to provide you with personal liability cover of at least up to £1 million.

Baggage and belongings cover

This covers you if your baggage or personal effects are lost, stolen or damaged, taking wear and tear into account. The important element to understand here is that regardless of the level of overall cover, some insurers put a single item limit on their policies - this is the maximum amount of money that will be paid for a single item. Single item limits typically stand at around £300, but some policies will allow you to increase your coverage. You should also bear in mind that some insurers will refuse to cover you for valuables such as laptops and smart phones, so you may need to take out separate insurance policies for these items.

Money saving websites such as Which? recommend at least £1,500 for baggage and personal belongings cover. Baggage cover should be enough to cover your valuables and baggage, so you don’t lose money if you have to make a claim.

Cancellation and curtailment cover

Cancellation is one of the most important basic costs that your travel insurance can protect you against. This pays up to the amount specified on your policy if you need to cancel or curtail (cut short) your holiday. Usually this only covers costs that you can’t recover or get refunded from your holiday supplier: depending on your policy, your insurer may pay for some of the costs if you need to cancel or cut short your holiday for a specific personal reason; for example, a serious illness or redundancy, or if your flight is delayed for longer than 24 hours.

Cancellation cover can range from £250 to £7,500, so it’s important to check that your chosen policy covers the cost of your trip. Money saving websites generally recommend about £3,000 for cancellation cover. A good idea is to compare the amount of cancellation cover against the cost of your holiday. If your holiday costs more than your cancellation cover, you may have to pay.

Cancellation cover may or may not protect you in the event you have to cancel your trip as a result of a medical condition suffered by a friend. Some insurers may require a doctor to confirm that you had no way of knowing that friend was going to fall ill.

Activities cover

If you’re planning on doing some extreme sports, you can add on activities cover, which will pay in the event that you need to claim as a result. If you’re planning on more risky activities like bungee jumping or skydiving, however, you’ll need to find a policy that covers you for these so you don’t end up out of pocket if you get injured and need to make a claim.

All travel insurance policies have specific inclusions and exclusions, so it’s essential to read the policy wording carefully and compare the activities covered.

Activities that are often but not always covered:

  • Amateur athletics
  • Archaeological digging
  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Bouldering (up to 4m with a crash mat)
  • Bridge walking
  • Bungee jumping (max 3 jumps)
  • Canoeing (not sea canoeing)
  • Cave tubing
  • Cricket
  • Cycling
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Golf
  • Husky sledge driving
  • Ice skating
  • Inline skating
  • Jogging
  • Marathons
  • Mountain biking (not including downhill racing and extreme ground conditions)
  • Netball
  • Orienteering
  • Parasailing (over water)
  • Parascending (over water)
  • Rambling
  • River tubing
  • Roller blading
  • Running (both sprinting and long distance)
  • Safari
  • Sand boarding
  • Scuba diving (qualified, max 30 metres) under 14 days
  • Sleigh rides (as part of a Christmas trip to Northern Europe)
  • Snorkelling
  • Squash
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Swimming with dolphins
  • Tennis
  • Trekking (under 2,000 metres)
  • Trekking (over 2,000 metres, under 6,000 metres altitude)
  • Triathlons
  • Volleyball
  • Wake boarding
  • Water polo
  • Water skiing
  • White/Black water rafting
  • Windsurfing and Yachting (both racing and crewing) inside territorial waters

Activities that are typically excluded:

  • Boxing training
  • Camel riding or trekking
  • Canopy walking
  • Clay-pigeon shooting
  • Conservation/charity work (educational/environmental - working with hand tools only)
  • Cycle touring
  • Dragon boating
  • Dune bashing
  • Elephant riding or trekking
  • Falconry
  • Go-karting
  • Hiking (under 2,000m)
  • Hiking (over 2,000m but under 6,000m altitude)
  • Hockey
  • Horse riding (not polo, hunting or jumping)
  • Hot-air ballooning
  • Jet boating
  • Jet skiing
  • Kayaking (not sea kayaking)
  • Kite surfing (over water)
  • Mud buggying
  • Paintballing (wearing eye protection)
  • Passenger (in private or small aircraft or helicopter)
  • Roller hockey
  • Rowing
  • Target rifle shooting
  • Tree top walking
  • Wadi bashing
  • Zip lining

Legal expenses

Legal expenses cover protects you if you have to initiate legal proceedings against someone while you’re abroad – if you have to claim compensation or damages, for example. This will usually include the cost of hiring a lawyer.

Legal expenses cover might be useful if you’re planning on doing a lot of driving while you’re away. If someone crashes into you and injures you, it will help protect you (along with your car insurance, which you must also have) as you pursue compensation from the other party.

SAFI

Some travel insurance policies include flight cancellation, but you can purchase SAFI cover as an extra. SAFI stands for “scheduled airline failure cover”. It means you’re protected if the airline you’re travelling with goes bankrupt or becomes insolvent. This type of cover was more urgently needed at the height of the UK recession, but if your airline should happen to go into administration, the cost of rearranging your journey home could be expensive. If you’re looking to add SAFI cover onto your travel insurance, make sure your policy will be enough to pay for the costs of a replacement flight home. We offer SAFI insurance for a maximum of £5,000.

Supplier insolvency

Similar to SAFI cover, supplier insolvency protects you in the event your travel or holiday providers go bankrupt or become insolvent. This includes your accommodation and car hire. This is especially useful if your holiday supplier does not have a licence from ATOL (Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing) or if they’re not a member of ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents), TTA (Travel Trust Association) or the Global Travel Group. If your supplier is a member of ATOL, for example, you may be automatically protected in the event that they go into administration. Booking a holiday through a credit card may also provide you with extra protection through the Consumer Trade Credit Association Act.

Types of supplier may include:

  • Scheduled airlines
  • Car hire and coach companies
  • Caravan or camp sites
  • Safari companies
  • Theme parks

If your end supplier goes into administration, InsureandGo offer cover up to a maximum of £1,500 on our Gold policies.

Hospital benefit

If you have to stay in hospital while abroad and you have purchased hospital benefit cover, you may be eligible to receive a fixed payment for each set period of time (usually 24 hours) that you have to spend in hospital, up to a maximum amount depending on your policy. It’s designed to cover additional costs that aren’t covered by your medical expenses policy – food and drink, for example. Note that this part of the insurance typically doesn’t cover you if your trip is in your home area, i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man (or your final country on a one-way trip). Experts recommend looking for a policy that will pay at least £15 for each set period – enough to cover you for basic daily expenses – and to ensure your insurer will cover you for longer than a day in hospital at least.

Pet care

If you’re planning to leave your pet in a cattery or kennel, and you want to get protection in case your flight is delayed on the return journey and you can’t pick up your pet in time, then pet care cover can provide a daily benefit payment to cover the extended cost of the pet’s stay. This is usually per 24 hours. Naturally this isn’t important if you don’t have a pet, but if you do, it’s good to have cover if you can’t pick up your animal at the pre-arranged time.

Business cover

If you’re travelling for business, this cover will pay up to the policy amount for the loss, damage, theft or significant delay of any equipment or personal money. They may also provide emergency courier services in the event a delay. If you have proof your trip was for business, you can also claim back personal accident money. Your business cover should provide protection for personal belongings (your laptop, tablet or business mobile), business equipment (up to the single article limit based on your policy wording), and pay travel expenses if you’re caused to miss any connections or your flight is cancelled.

Accommodation cover

If your hotel or accommodation is unreachable as a result of fire, flood, storm, explosion, avalanche or an outbreak of infectious disease, this cover will protect you up to an amount specified by your policy. Your policy should be enough to cover the substantial cost of your accommodation.

Delayed departure or abandoning your trip

With this type of cover, you may be able to receive a benefit payment for each full 12-hour period you’re delayed, as long as you eventually go on the trip. If a major delay of over 24 hours forces you to abandon your holiday, where the delay has been caused by strike action, poor weather or mechanical failure, you may receive a payment for your unused travel and accommodation expenses up to the amount in our policy wording.

You’ll need to read your individual policy wording, but some insurance companies may decline a claim as a result of natural disasters – for example, if volcanic ash causes your flight to be delayed or cancelled.

Sources

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We can cover your kids for free!

If you’re going away with your children, we can cover them on your policy at no extra charge, whether you buy an annual policy or single trip cover.

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