Travel insurance is an insurance policy designed to cover the cost of unexpected expenses that may occur whilst you are on holiday, such as medical costs or lost possessions. In this article, we look at what travel insurance does and does not cover as well as the best place to buy a travel insurance policy.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is designed to cover the cost of unexpected bills should things not go to plan while you are away. Travel insurance is best taken out as soon as you book your trip to ensure you are covered for cancellation in case you are unable to travel. You may also be able to claim on a travel insurance policy for lost baggage or possessions whilst you are abroad so it should be something that you consider when organising your holiday.
There are a variety of travel insurance policies to choose from and it is essential you get the right level of cover for your trip to maximise the chances of a claim being paid. We explain the different types of travel insurance in our article, 'What are the different types of travel insurance?'
What does travel insurance cover?
In this section, we explain what is covered when you buy a standard travel insurance policy. The amount of cover you qualify for and exactly what that cover includes will all depend on the type of policy you choose. Read our article for more information on the different types of travel insurance.
What is covered by a standard travel insurance policy?
A standard travel insurance policy will usually cover you for the following:
If you are travelling abroad you need to ensure you have sufficient cover for medical treatment. The cost of medical treatment outside of the UK is usually very expensive so it is essential that you have an insurance policy that will cover any medical bills should you fall ill whilst travelling. Medical treatment cover is likely to vary between £5m - £15m, with some providers even offering unlimited cover, which may seem excessive but depending on where you are travelling to, medical bills can quickly add up. It is also worth noting that some travel insurance providers may exclude any treatment provided by a private hospital, so you will need to check the T&Cs of your policy documents carefully.
Repatriation is the process of bringing you back to the UK should you need to come home early or require additional treatment when you return. Repatriation costs can be expensive as you may need to travel in a specialist aircraft or be returned home from a remote location. Repatriation is likely to be covered on all standard travel insurance policies (it is usually listed along with medical cover) and the amount of cover is likely to vary between £1m - £10m.
A standard travel insurance policy is likely to include cover should your baggage get lost, damaged or stolen. How much cover you have will vary depending on the travel insurance policy, but it usually ranges from £750 - £4,000. There may be limits on how much you can claim for individual items that have been lost, but you can choose to insure your personal possessions (e.g. phone and camera) separately. Some insurance companies offer this type of insurance as an optional extra and so you may be able to add this to your travel insurance policy if necessary.
Most travel insurance policies offer some level of cover for cancellation. Some may also cover the cost of curtailment, which is cutting your trip short due to illness or family bereavement. How much cover you will get for cancellation will vary depending on the travel insurance provider and you should always check your travel insurance documents carefully in case of any policy exclusions.
Personal liability cover is included in most travel insurance policies and covers you for legal bills that may arise as a result of you injuring someone else or damaging someone's property.
Does travel insurance cover Covid?
Most travel insurance providers offer some level of cover for coronavirus should you fall ill and require treatment whilst you are abroad. Not all policies will cover you for cancellation of your trip, however, so you will need to carefully check your policy documents so you know exactly what you are covered for. For more information on travel insurance and coronavirus cover, read our article 'Does travel insurance cover covid?'
What does travel insurance not cover?
Below, we explain what is unlikely to be covered by a standard travel insurance policy. The following list is likely to vary depending on the travel insurance provider and cover for pre-existing conditions and high-risk activities is usually best bought from specialist insurers.
What is not covered by a standard travel insurance policy?
A standard travel insurance policy is unlikely to cover you for the following:
The policy excess is the agreed amount you have to pay in the event you need to make a claim. How much you will have to pay and when you will need to pay the policy excess will vary on the travel insurance provider.
Some travel insurance policies will exclude cover for pre-existing medical conditions. In most cases, you may still be able to get cover to go away but your existing medical condition may be excluded. In this instance, it may be best to speak to a specialist travel insurance provider who may be able to seek cover for you. You can compare a number of travel insurance providers that cover pre-existing medical conditions via the comparison site PayingTooMuch*. Additionally, MoneyHelper has a useful directory of providers that cover pre-existing medical conditions.
For more information on travel insurance providers that cover pre-existing conditions, can be found in our article, 'The best travel insurance for pre-existing conditions'.
If you are looking to take part in high-risk activities whilst away, such as bungee jumping or winter sports, then it is unlikely to be covered under a standard travel insurance policy. In this case, you may benefit from travel insurance that provides additional cover for these types of activities. Some insurers offer specialist winter sports insurance that will cover you for activities such as skiing and snowboarding as well as cover for your equipment and unforeseen weather events like an avalanche.
Drug or alcohol-related claims
Most travel insurance policies are unlikely to pay out if you are found to have had an accident or illness caused by a lack of awareness and judgement as a result of being impaired by excessive consumption of alcohol. This does not mean that you are unable to drink whilst you are away but you should check your policy documents carefully to ensure you know exactly what you are covered for. Any claim arising from taking drugs or as a result of any other type of illegal activity is unlikely to be covered by your insurer.
How to claim on your travel insurance policy
If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance policy then it is advisable to keep receipts for any bills or expenses you have incurred as a result of your claim. If some of your possessions have been stolen then your insurer may need a crime or reference number from the local police department.
Some insurers also have a set amount of time that they wish to be notified by if you need to claim. For example, travel insurer Staysure says that if you require emergency medical treatment whilst abroad, you or a travel companion should contact them within 48 hours. Staysure also states that if you require non-emergency treatment you should call them first so that they can advise of the best possible place for treatment.
If you make a claim due to COVID-19 it is likely that your insurer will ask for proof of a positive test result.
Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is an essential addition to your holiday to cover the financial cost of things going awry whilst you are away. Travel insurance is designed to cover the cost of medical bills if you fall ill whilst abroad and it can also help with repatriation costs back to the UK if you need to return for further medical treatment. Travel insurance can also help cover the cost of cancellation if you are unable to travel or for lost baggage and delays. If you do not take out a travel insurance policy then you will have to pay for any medical costs yourself and you may be out of pocket if your possessions go missing and you need to replace them.
Travel insurance is best taken out as soon as you have booked your trip in case you need to cancel due to being unable to travel. The sooner you take out the policy, the sooner you are covered. Find out more in our article, 'Do I need travel insurance?'
Where can I buy travel insurance?
The quickest and easiest way to purchase a travel insurance policy is via a comparison site such as Compare the Market* or MoneySuperMarket* as you can easily compare the cost and different levels of cover between the policies. A downside to a comparison site, however, is that they are usually not whole of market which means that you may not always get the best deal.
You may also be offered the chance to purchase a travel insurance policy when buying a package holiday. Make sure you check the terms carefully to ensure you are covered properly for your trip as you may not necessarily have been offered the best cover to suit your needs.
It is worth checking with your bank as some banks offer packaged accounts with the added bonus of travel insurance. The app-only bank Revolut, for example, also offers worldwide medical insurance and lost baggage cover with its Premium, Metal and Ultra subscription accounts. When purchasing travel insurance it is best to shop around to get the best deal and cover for your trip. Find out more about packaged bank accounts that offer travel insurance in our article, 'The best packaged bank accounts'.
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