Buying travel insurance is a vital part of preparing for a family holiday, and it’s just as important when your children travel alone.
Some, but not all, family travel insurance policies cover your children to travel independently. If this isn’t the case, you’ll need to take out separate travel insurance for unaccompanied minors.
What is travel insurance for unaccompanied minors?
Travel insurance for unaccompanied minors will provide cover for your child when they are travelling independently. Levels of cover vary, but most policies include basics such as emergency medical treatment, lost or stolen luggage, and cancellation due to illness or injury.
What is the definition of an unaccompanied minor?
For insurance purposes, an ‘unaccompanied minor’ is a child under the age of 18 who is travelling alone or with friends or relatives of the same age.
Do I need travel insurance for unaccompanied minors on school trips?
If your child is going on a school trip, he or she will not be counted as an ‘unaccompanied minor’ because the teachers going with them take over the parental responsibility for the duration of the trip. However, you’ll still need to buy insurance unless your child is fully covered by a policy arranged by the school – or by your family travel insurance policy.
What does travel insurance for unaccompanied minors cover?
Travel insurance for children travelling alone should provide similar cover to a standard policy. This means your child should be covered for :
- Medical treatment, if they need to receive care while abroad – these costs can reach into the thousands in some countries
- Possessions, if any of their items such as luggage, cash or documents are lost or stolen
- Holiday disruption, if your travel or accommodation arrangements are cancelled or curtailed due to reasons beyond your control
- Legal costs, if you need to pay legal fees for an incident that wasn’t your fault and sometimes if you have to pay personal liability if an incident was your fault
But it will also come with the same limitations. If, for example, your child leaves their bag unattended, you may not be able to make a claim for it and its contents – so it’s important they understand the terms and conditions of their policy. You should also ensure you tell the insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions, as if they flare up while your child is travelling they may not be covered for the cost of treatment if they don’t declare the condition beforehand.
Other things to think about when choosing the level of child travel insurance cover you need include:
- Where they are going – is their destination covered by a European policy, or do they need Worldwide cover? (If they’re travelling in Europe before the end of 2020, they may also need an EHIC card)
- What they are doing - if your child is going to be taking part in winter sports or water sports, for example, you’ll generally have to pay to add winter sports cover
- What they are taking – it’s a good idea to check the amount you can claim for a single item if your child is travelling with valuables such as a laptop or high-end mobile phone
Can my child travel alone?
Most airlines will only allow children to travel without an adult if they are at least five years old. Between five and 12 (or sometimes 15) years of age, they must also be registered with the airline’s unaccompanied minors programme. On Eurostar, meanwhile, the minimum age at which a child can travel alone is 16, while on a train service that starts and ends in the UK, under-12s must be accompanied by someone aged at least 16.
When preparing for your child to travel overseas alone, ensure you’ve remembered the following:
- They have their passport, which is valid for the entirety of the trip (and sometimes six months afterwards)
- They have all the relevant visas and other paperwork they need to travel
- The country they are travelling to allows a child of that age to arrive without an adult
- They’re booked on the airline’s unaccompanied minors programme at least 24 hours before departure (if necessary)
Compare travel insurance
It’s easy to find and compare travel insurance policies for unaccompanied minors with MoneySuperMarket. Just fill in a few details about your child’s travel plans, then choose the quote that best suits your needs.