Travel insurance is designed to cover unexpected costs that you may incur when on your holiday. In this article, we take a look at what travel insurance covers, whether you need travel insurance and some of the best travel insurance providers in the UK in 2023.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance should be an essential addition to your holiday as it can help to recover unexpected costs that may have arisen whilst you were away. Travel insurance will help cover the cost of emergency medical treatment should you fall ill whilst abroad but it can also help if you need to cancel your trip or your personal belongings are lost or stolen.
There are many types of travel insurance and it is important that you buy the right policy for your holiday to ensure you are covered. Single and Annual multi-trip travel insurance are the most common travel insurance policy types. Single trip travel insurance is designed to cover one trip abroad for a set period of time while annual multi-trip travel insurance will cover multiple trips in a policy year. Annual multi-trip travel insurance may be more cost-effective if you are a regular traveller. It is also possible to get travel insurance for long stays or backpacking trips, group and family holidays, winter sports holidays and cruises.
What does travel insurance cover?
Most standard travel insurance policies cover the cost of emergency medical treatment abroad so it is important to check the amount of emergency medical cover offered on a policy, particularly if you are travelling somewhere with expensive medical care such as the USA. Travel insurance may also cover the cost of trip cancellations and lost or stolen belongings.
One thing to consider with travel insurance, however, is that you may have to explore other ways to get your money back first before claiming. For example, if you need to cancel your holiday your travel insurance provider may first ask you to contact your airline or tour provider to see if the dates can be moved. Also, if you have paid on a credit card you may have to prove that you have tried to recover the costs from your card provider before being able to claim on your travel insurance policy.
The best travel insurance providers
In the comparison table below, we compare some of the best travel insurance providers on the market. We highlight the different levels of cover and perks you can expect with each. Exactly how much cover you can get varies depending on the policy you choose.
We have also compared the cost of the most comprehensive single trip travel insurance policies with each of the providers. This policy cost is based on a 7-night stay in Spain for a 30-year-old individual with no underlying health conditions. How much you will actually pay for your travel insurance will depend on a number of factors including your trip destination, your age and whether you have any existing health conditions.
Compare the best travel insurance providers
|AA||Admiral||CoverForYou||Direct Line||Holiday Extras||LV=||Staysure||Post Office|
|Policy excess (policy dependant)||Up to £150||Up to £100||£0||Up to £75||Up to £150||Up to £90||Up to £129||Up to £125|
|Maximum emergency medical cover (policy dependant)||£15m||£20m||£15m||£10m||£15m||£10m||Unlimited||£10m|
|Cancellation cover||up to £5,000||Up to £5,000||Up to £7,500||Up to £5,000||Up to £5,000||Up to £10,000||Up to £10,000||Up to £5,000|
|Baggage cover||Up to £2,500||Up to £2,500||Up to £3,000||Up to £1,500 (optional extra)||Up to £2,000||Up to £3,000 (optional extra)||Up to £5,000||Up to £3,000|
|Optional Winter sports cover|
|Optional Cruise cover||Included as standard||Included as standard||Included as standard on annual policies|
|Online discount||10%||15%||Signature policies||15% for students|
|Perks||No excess for AA members (policy dependant)||Add-ons for golf trips and hazardous activities||Loyalty discount scheme, Travel Mate app||Disaster cover||Optional wedding cover||Online claims process||Add-ons such as excess waiver and golf and gadget cover||Travel insurance app|
|Single trip policy age limit (years)||85*||75*||*||*|
|Annual multi-trip policy age limit (years)||79||79*||70||75||80||79|
|Defaqto star rating (policy dependant)||2, 3 and 5 star||3, 4 and 5 star||3, 4 and 5 star||1, 3 and 4 star||3, 4 and 5 star||3 and 5 star||2 and 5 star||3, 4 and 5 star|
|7-night European Single trip policy cost (30-year-old)||£28.13||£15.40||£28.00||£26.04**||£24.19||£37.96**||£21.42||£39.48|
|Good for...||AA member benefits||Winter sports||No policy excess||Coronavirus cover||Staycations||Group travel insurance||Pre-existing medical conditions||10% student discount|
|More information||AA travel insurance review||Admiral travel insurance review||CoverForYou travel insurance review||Direct Line travel insurance review||Holiday Extras travel insurance review||LV= travel insurance review||Staysure travel insurance review||Post Office travel insurance review|
(Quotes correct as of 09/06/23) *limits may apply **includes baggage cover
Do you need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is not a legal requirement but it should be an essential part of your holiday planning to ensure you are not left out of pocket should things go wrong whilst you are away. You should especially look to take out travel insurance if you are travelling somewhere with expensive healthcare such as the USA where treatment for a simple illness such as a stomach bug could cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Travel insurance can also help to repatriate you to the UK if you need to return due to a medical emergency. For more information, read our article 'Do I need travel insurance?'
Do I need travel insurance if I have an EHIC/GHIC?
There is a common misconception that travel insurance is not required if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which is the replacement for the EHIC. If you have an existing EHIC it can still be used until its expiry date but if yours is no longer valid you will need a GHIC.
EHIC and GHIC cards can provide cover towards medically necessary state-provided treatment in countries within the EU or Switzerland. The cards may not however cover all treatment costs and repatriation which is why travel insurance is still necessary when travelling within the EU. Travel insurance can also help to cover lost or stolen belongings as well as cancellation costs.
How to buy the best travel insurance policy
The quickest and easiest way to purchase a travel insurance policy is via a comparison site such as MoneySuperMarket* or Compare the Market* as you are able to compare multiple travel insurance policies at once to suit your trip. One thing to consider before purchasing via a comparison site is that not all comparison sites are whole of market which means you may be able to get a better deal elsewhere with insurers that aren't on comparison sites.
You may also wish to check with your bank provider as some banks offer packaged current accounts with travel insurance benefits included. Some of these packaged accounts are only available to existing customers or require you to open a specific account. Most packaged bank accounts come with a monthly fee and some may have a minimum term e.g. 6 months.
Remember to purchase your policy as soon as possible once you have booked your trip to help cover any problems that could prevent you from travelling later down the line.
Things to consider before buying travel insurance
You should consider the following before purchasing a travel insurance policy to ensure you are getting the best cover for your trip:
- Emergency medical cover - have you got a generous amount of medical cover in the unfortunate event you need to claim for medical expenses, particularly if you are travelling somewhere with expensive healthcare?
- Trip destination - does your travel insurance policy cover your destination? Some providers have specific policies to cover certain countries such as the USA.
- Single vs annual multi-trip policies - are you travelling on more than one trip in a year? An annual multi-trip policy may save you money compared to multiple single-trip policies.
- Pre-existing medical conditions - have you declared all of your pre-existing medical conditions? Not doing so could affect your cover and result in a claim not being paid. There are specialist travel insurance providers for pre-existing conditions insurance if you are struggling to get cover.
- Trip activities - what are you planning to do whilst you are away? If you are planning to do winter sports such as skiing or you are going on a cruise you need to ensure your policy covers you for your trip. If you are also planning to take part in extreme activities on an adventure holiday does your insurance cover the activities you are planning?
- Can you save money? - we share a number of travel insurance money-saving tips in our article to ensure you know how to get the best deal on a travel insurance policy.
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