Q&A: All you need to know about travel insurance

If you’re planning to book or go on holiday soon, don’t forget to take out travel insurance to protect you while you’re away.

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Here, we explain all you need to know about travel insurance, and what information you need to disclose to insurers when applying.

1. What does travel insurance typically cover?

Travel insurance policies can vary widely in terms of how much protection they offer, but as a general rule, they will usually cover you for the following:

  • Delays
  • Cancellation or curtailment
  • Lost or stolen baggage or belongings
  • Personal liability
  • Medical costs and repatriation.

2. What does travel insurance typically exclude?

Some travel insurers won’t cover pre-existing medical conditions, so make sure you find out whether any policy you are considering will provide you with sufficient protection if you do have any health issues.

Policies also won’t pay out for any losses which arise as a result of you being drunk or under the influence of drugs.

And travel cover will typically exclude winter sports such as skiing and snow-boarding, unless you have chosen a policy which specifically covers these.

Extreme sports such as bungee-jumping or sky-diving also won’t usually be covered by most policies, although some insurers will provide cover, so check the small print before planning any adventurous activities.

Remember too that travel insurance won’t protect you if you choose to holiday in a country that the government advises against travelling to. You can check which countries you should not travel to at the Foreign and Commonwealth website at www.fco.gov.uk/travel.

Although insurance will usually cover the cost of cancellation if you are unable to go on your holiday due to illness, it won’t pay out if you cancel because the weather looks bad, or because you decide you can’t afford to go.

3. I have a medical condition which is under control, do I need to tell insurers?

The short answer is yes, you do.

Insurers need to know your medical history and any conditions you’ve suffered from previously, or they could reject any claim you make, potentially leaving you with a big bill if you fall ill.

A pre-existing condition usually means any medical condition for which medical advice, diagnosis, care or treatment has been either received or recommended.

If your condition is under control, and has been for some time, then depending on what it is, you may not face significant extra costs when buying cover, or you may be happy to opt for a plan which excludes claims arising from the condition you’ve declared. 

Never be tempted to withhold information, as if you do make a claim the insurance company will be able to access your medical records.

4. I’m pregnant, do I need a specific type of travel insurance?

Most standard travel insurance policies will cover you if you’re pregnant, but usually only until you’re around seven months pregnant.

If you travel later than this, there’s a bigger risk that you’ll have the baby while you’re away, which is why travel insurers are reluctant to provide cover if you are nearly full term.

Terms and conditions do vary though, so you may be able to find insurers that will cover you later into your pregnancy, and some even offer specialist pregnancy travel insurance.

Bear in mind that airlines often impose restrictions on how close to your due date you are when you travel. You will need their permission to fly if you are nearly full-term and may have to provide a note from your doctor confirming you are fit to fly.

5. What does an EHIC cover me for?

The EHIC, or European Health Insurance Card, which replaced the E111 form a decade ago, entitles you to free or reduced cost healthcare in countries within the European Economic Area (EEA).

Routine maternity care and any pre-existing medical conditions are both covered by the card.

Children and adults can have an EHIC, but if aged under 16, parents or guardians must apply on their behalf. 

It’s free to apply for an EHIC, so avoid any websites that charge a fee.

6. I have an EHIC, do I still need travel insurance?

Yes, you will still need travel cover.

The EHIC only covers medical treatment, but won’t be any use if, for example, your baggage is lost or stolen.

Unlike insurance, it also won’t help get you back to the UK if you need to be repatriated, or cover the cost of cancelling or cutting short your trip.

7. Should I take out single trip or annual travel insurance?

That depends on how many trips you are planning to take over the year.

If you’re only going away once, there’s no point having annual cover, as this provides cover for several trips and is usually more expensive than single trip cover.

As a general rule, if you are planning two or three holidays in the next 12 months, annual cover will usually be more cost-effective than taking out single policies each time.

8. I’m going on holiday in the UK. Do I need travel insurance?

Many people think they don’t need travel insurance if they are planning a staycation in the UK, as they can rely on the NHS if they are ill or have an accident.

However, insurance can still prove invaluable if you need to cancel your trip before you go, or if you need to cut it short, for example, due to illness or a family emergency. You’ll also be protected if any valuable items are stolen or lost while you’re away.

9. Can I cancel my travel insurance policy?

You can only cancel an annual trip travel insurance policy within 14 days of purchase without penalty, and you will be able to get a refund from your provider.

However, if you have bought a single trip policy, you can’t cancel it and get a refund as the right to cancel does not apply to travel insurance policies which are shorter than a month.

10. Can I get a travel insurance policy for my whole family?

Yes, you can. All you need to do is request family cover and you will be asked for the names and ages of each family member you want to be covered under the policy.

Family policies will usually cover one or two parents, as well as any dependent children up to the age of 18, although some policies will cover children up to the age of 22.

11. Will travel insurance cover me in the event of terrorism?

Many travel insurance policies won’t cover acts of terrorism, and this will typically be listed in their general exclusions.

That said, some policies will pay out for medical expenses if you're injured in a terrorist attack, while others will also provide cover for baggage and other expenses (read the small print carefully).

However, if you purchase travel insurance through MoneySuperMarket, you can choose to bolt on a new product called Safe Journey to your cover. This will protect you against the impact of terrorism before you travel and while you're away.

This additional cover is available from £3.79* and you'll be given the opportunity to buy it from the confirmation page when you purchase travel insurance through MoneySuperMarket, or through your confirmation email.

12. How do I make a travel insurance claim?

To make a claim, contact your insurer as soon as something goes wrong. Most insurers have 24-hour helplines so you can contact them at any time of the day or night.

You’ll usually need evidence to support your claim so, for example, if valuables have been stolen, you will need a crime reference number from the local police. Similarly, if your baggage has gone astray, you should get a form confirming this from the airport and submit it with your claim.

Remember that when you make a claim, you will usually have to pay an excess, which is the portion of any claim you must cover yourself. 

*Based on a single trip of up to 8 days, worldwide. Travel to Cuba is excluded. See policy details for full list of excluded countries.

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