Do I need travel insurance?

Felicity King-Evans looks at what travel insurance covers you for and why it is so important not to travel without it...

Family at airport

Thanks to cheap flights and package holidays, every year people from this country jet off overseas to climb mountains, explore cities, relax on beaches, and have adventures.

But, research from the Foreign office shows that one in five people are holidaying without travel insurance.

Many policies didn’t pay out over the volcanic ash delays, leading some people to question whether or not travel insurance had value.

But while it might not pay out for once-in a blue moon events, it does cover you for the many small things that can and unfortunately do happen.

For example, a good travel insurance policy will cover your expenses if you fell ill overseas and had to be hospitalised, if your pockets were picked or if your luggage went missing. Many policies will even reimburse you if a close relative dies and you can’t face your trip.

Events like that are, unfortunately, far more common then exploding Icelandic mountains; they just don’t make the headlines. But every year thousands of people are protected by their travel insurance policies.

Some people choose not to take out cover when they’re travelling in the EU, because they are carrying a European Health Insurance Card, which entitles them to medical care in the country they’re visiting.

But, although you should carry this card, it’s not sufficient protection on its own. It will entitle you to standard state care in the country you are in, but it won’t cover the extra cost if you need to be helicoptered to hospital, or have special help getting yourself home afterwards.

Different policies cover different things and the cheapest may not be sufficient, so make sure you know the extent of the cover you’re buying.

We recommend the following levels of cover:

  • £2m for medical expenses
  • £1m personal liability
  • £3,000 cancellation - or enough to cover the cost of your holiday
  • £1,500 baggage
  • £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).

Whether you are having an adventure or a lazy week by the beach, your holiday is meant to be a relaxing getaway. Having the right cover in place means you don’t have to worry about what will happen and if you can afford it if things do go wrong.

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