Skip to content

What does travel insurance cover?

Jonathan Leggett
Written by  Jonathan Leggett
Alicia Hempsted
Reviewed by  Alicia Hempsted
7 min read
Updated: 12 Mar 2024

Need some help choosing the right travel insurance? We've got you. Read on and we'll walk you though what standard travel insurance covers and what may require a specialist policy.

What does travel insurance cover?

A standard travel insurance policy ought to cover you for loss of luggage/passports, the trip being cancelled or disrupted, and medical treatment if you become ill or have an accident while you’re away.

You can usually also expect travel insurance to cover the cost of repatriation to bring you home, and cover your legal costs if someone sues you for damaging their property or causing them injury.

However, not all policies are created equal and may not give you the precise level of cover you’re looking for. So it’s vital you think very hard about the risks associated with your trip.

travel insurance tourist

What medical expenses does travel insurance cover?

Most policies include medical cover in some form and offer a 24-hour helpline. Typically a travel insurance policy will include provisions for:

  • Repatriation: Transporting you home if you come to physical harm or can’t use your original ticket can be a huge expense without insurance

  • Medical expenses in emergencies: This would cover the cost of treatment and charges for ambulances

  • Accommodation and travel for next of kin: This applies should you need someone to bring you home, or fly out to stay out with you

It’s worth noting that not all policies will include cover for the above eventualities and that repatriation and medical treatment can be huge expenses if you’re not covered. Especially in countries such as the USA.

So it’s critical you pay close attention to the terms of the cover and choose accordingly.

Will travel insurance cover me for Coronavirus?

Yes. The majority of travel insurance policies provide cover if Coronavirus prevents you from travelling.

This generally applies if you contract the virus within 14 days of your trip, for which you’ll need to provide medical evidence to be able to claim.

A standard policy should also cover you if your carrier refuses you travel on the grounds that you’re showing symptoms, or if one of your co-travellers or close family members gets COVID.

But make sure you check what level of cover your travel insurance provides when you’re getting a quote. Not all policies cover all eventualities related to Coronavirus.

Can travel insurance cover me for an existing medical condition?

You can get specialist travel cover if you have a pre-existing condition, such as asthma, diabetes, a heart condition or Cancer. But standard policies may not cover you.

As you might expect, specialist cover for pre-existing conditions generally costs more and the onus is on you to declare your health status before you sign up. If you don’t do so, your claim could be rejected.

Does all travel insurance cover repatriation?

Repatriation cover is typically included as standard on travel insurance policies for illnesses or accidents. It’s also likely to cover repatriation of remains.

But be sure to read the small print to check. You’ll usually be able to find the stipulations in the ‘key features’ section of your policy.

Does travel insurance always cover cancellation?

Standard travel insurance generally offers cancellation cover and will pay out if the cancellations were for reasons beyond your control.

That might be because you fell ill or incurred an injury that prevented you from travelling.

A standard policy won’t generally cover you for cancellations due to pre-existing conditions, or if you changed your mind or were unable to get time off work.

Will travel insurance cover the death of a parent or family members?

Generally, standard travel insurance will cover you for the death of a family member if it affects your travel plans and will compensate you for non-refundable payments, such as hotels or flight bookings.

This typically applies if your bereavement meant you cancelled the trip, delayed it or if your travel was interrupted mid-way through.

That said, definitions of ‘close family’ can vary depending on the provider you choose. So be sure to check the detail of your policy before signing up.

Are my baggage and belongings covered by travel insurance?

Lost or stolen luggage cover is a key component of most standard travel cover.

But it’s critical to be aware that it excludes cover for unattended or insecurely stored items and will typically have a single-item limit. That means you’ll only be able to claim a certain amount for any single possession.

So if you’re planning to travel with expensive gadgets or other high-value items, you may want to take out gadget insurance or special insurance for valuables, such as jewellery.

Will travel insurance cover my passport?

Most travel insurance policies cover you for lost and stolen passports.

Depending on the fine detail of your cover, it should cover the outlay for emergency travel documents that you can use instead of a passport to get home, as well as replacement flights and extra accommodation.

Some policies also cover the cost of a replacement passport. But this is by no means universal.

What types of travel insurance are available?

Travel cover comes in lots of forms. Some of which are:

What does travel insurance generally not cover?

The breadth of cover you’ll get in a standard travel insurance policy varies between insurers. But typical exclusions include:

  • High-risk activities, such as adventure sports and winter sports

  • Travel to countries that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommends you avoid

  • Disruption to a trip due to civil unrest, acts of God, pandemics or terrorism

  • Pre-existing conditions, such as a heart condition or Cancer

  • High-value items, such as jewellery or gadgets

  • Changing your mind about your trip

  • Medical care related to substance abuse, if you knowingly took drugs

Does travel insurance cover me for sports and activities?

Low risk activities, for example swimming, fishing or cycling for leisure, are generally covered by standard travel insurance.

But for activities deemed higher risk, such as skiing, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, quad-biking or jet-skiing, you may require a specialist sports travel insurance policy.

You should also be mindful that standard travel insurance generally won’t cover you for the cost of sports equipment in the event of loss, theft or damage.

Will travel insurance cover me if I have an accident involving alcohol?

Incidents that occur while you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not typically covered by travel insurance, if the insurer deems that you did not take reasonable care.

Are airline strikes covered by travel insurance?

Travel insurance may cover you for claims arising from an airline strike, with the proviso that the strike cannot have been announced at the point you booked your trip or when you took out your policy.

Some policies allow you to claim back costs accruing from a holiday cancellation, in the event that your flight is delayed for over 24 hours, or is cancelled and the airline does not arrange a replacement flight.

In some instances, your policy could also cover costs you incurred due to the strike. However, the cost of the flight generally isn’t covered, on the grounds that you can apply to the airline for a refund.

What legal cover can I get from my travel insurance?

Depending on the terms of your policy, your travel insurance may include cover if you’re sued by someone that you injured. It could also cover you for legal costs if you damage someone’s property.

Some policies may include provisions to help cover the costs of securing compensation if you’re injured in an accident.

What happens if I don’t declare a pre-existing medical condition?

Not declaring a pre-existing condition could invalidate your claim, with the result that it’s likely to be rejected by your insurer.

In turn, you could then be liable to pay expensive bills for medication, consultations, repatriation and medical treatment.

Frequently asked questions

Are cruise holidays covered by travel insurance?

General travel insurance policies typically don’t cover cruises. To ensure you’re covered for cruise travel, you’ll need to add specialist ‘cruise cover’ to your policy.

Will travel insurance cover me if someone steals my jewellery?

You can usually expect some cover for valuable items, such as jewellery and gadgets, with a standard travel insurance policy. But with the caveat that there’s often a single-item cover limit, which means that expensive possessions may not be covered in full.

Will travel insurance cover me if I work or live abroad?

It may, depending on how long you’re going to spend overseas. If you’re planning to be away for 18 months or less, you could look into long-stay travel insurance.

However, if you’re staying for longer or planning to live abroad permanently it’s a good idea to look into international health insurance instead.

Will home insurance cover valuable possessions when I’m on holiday?

Home contents insurance can cover items you take with you on holiday. But check your policy before you travel to make sure.

Looking for travel insurance?
Get a quote