What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance could cover medical expenses, trip cancellation or delays, lost or stolen baggage and personal liability while you’re travelling. The type of cover you need will depend on the countries you’re visiting, the activities you’ll be doing and the length of your trip. You’ll also need to state whether you want travel insurance for a single trip, multiple trips or for backpacking.
Why do I need travel insurance?
While we all love to get away from it all, accidents do happen - as well as medical bills, travel insurance covers, delays, lost items and thefts. All these can prove costly if you’re not properly insured.
Almost 1 in 4 people don’t take out travel insurance for their holidays. However, they probably should have, when you consider that travel insurance providers paid out £370m in 591,000 claims last year, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
To give you some idea of the potential costs without insurance for emergency medical care, the ABI has examples of what has been paid in 2017 for claims that you’d have to pay if you had no insurance:
- £768,000 was paid to cover the medical costs of treating a traveller who suffered a stroke in the USA.
- This includes £60,000 for an air ambulance back to the UK.
- £125,000 to pay for surgery following a jet-ski accident while holidaying in Turkey.
- £136,000 for treating complications following an insect bite in Chile. This included paying for a nurse to escort the traveller home.
So, whether you’re taking the family to the beach, a student on your gap year taking the trip of a lifetime or simply making the most of your retirement, there’s sure to be a policy to keep you covered.
Frequently asked questions
Has Brexit affected travel insurance?
Yes, Brexit introduced several changes for travellers between the UK and EU:
- You now need to have at least six months left on your passport to visit countries in the EU.
- If you’re a tourist, you’ll only be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
- If you’re planning on taking your car abroad or hiring a vehicle, you’ll need the right driving documents.
- Your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is still valid until the date of expiry, but will be replaced by the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card). It’s still recommended to make sure your travel insurance gives you an adequate level of cover.
Find out more about post-Brexit changes for UK nationals visiting the EU at GOV.UK.
Do I need travel insurance if I have a European Health Insurance Card or Global Health Insurance Card?
Yes, because these cards won’t offer cover for other emergencies such as cancellation, theft or loss of baggage.
And while the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) or GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) provides help with necessary medical care, you shouldn’t presume this offers you the same protection as travel insurance. For example, it won’t cover you for emergency repatriation if you need to be returned to the UK for specialist medical care.
Can I get travel insurance for the UK?
Yes, you can get travel insurance for trips in the UK.
The NHS will cover your medical needs, but it’s possible that an internal flight or train might be cancelled, your hotel closed or your baggage lost or damaged. Or you may need to cancel your trip because of ill health or bereavement. Travel insurance could cover you for all these things.
Will travel insurance cover lost passports?
Yes, while you should always check your policy beforehand, most travel insurance will cover you for lost or stolen passports.
If your passport is lost or stolen, it’s important that you report this quickly and apply for an Emergency Travel Document (ETD) to minimise the disruption to your holiday. Keep any reference numbers when you report the loss/theft, as these will be needed when claiming on your insurance.
Can I still get travel insurance if I have a medical condition?
Yes, you can still get travel insurance even if you have a medical condition. However, you might need to look for a specialist provider, and it may be more expensive.
See more on travel insurance with medical conditions with some specialist advice if you have cancer or heart conditions.
Can I get travel insurance if I’m pregnant?
Absolutely. Pregnancy isn’t considered a pre-existing condition, so travel insurance when pregnant shouldn’t cost you any more than usual.
You might want to check your policy to see if it covers holiday cancellation or curtailment due to pregnancy complications. Also, see what medical coverage you have, just in case baby comes sooner than expected.
What is family travel insurance?
Family travel insurance covers the whole family under one policy. Typically, it’s for parents and children under 18, living at the same address. A family policy can often be cheaper than separate policies.Some providers may even throw in free cover for the kids.
Just make sure you read the policy details carefully, as conditions can often apply.
Can I get travel insurance when I am already abroad?
Yes, although you should arrange cover before you set off, you may be able to buy specialist travel insurance after you’ve departed.
Your circumstances and whether you intend to make a claim will be taken into account, and there may be a waiting period to prevent you from making an immediate claim.
Can travel insurance be extended?
Yes, many providers will let you extend your cover if you decide to make your holiday last a little longer.
You should let your provider know as soon as possible and avoid letting your cover expire, as this might make an extension more complicated.
What does doubling up on travel insurance mean?
Doubling up on insurance means that you’ve taken out more than one type of cover.
This might be because you’ve taken out a travel insurance policy but also have cover from another source, such as a bank or credit card provider.
Having two forms of cover doesn’t mean you’ll get twice the pay-out. And doubling up could delay your claim being processed, as both providers may ask each other to cover the cost. So, it’s not usually an advantage to be ‘double’ insured.
How can I make a claim on my travel insurance?
If you need to make a claim on your travel insurance, here’s what to do:
Have your policy, travel documents and emergency contact details with you.
Contact the police or relevant authority as soon as possible to get an official report if your claim is for theft or the result of any other criminal activity.
Contact your insurance provider as soon as you can. If possible, get them to agree to any medical treatment before you go ahead. In some cases, you may need to pay upfront, then claim back the money when you get home.
Keep or request any evidence to support your claim. Make sure you keep the necessary receipts to back up your claim. You’ll also need relevant police or medical reports if needed.
Can I get holiday insurance that covers COVID-19?
Yes, you can find and compare holiday insurance with COVID-19 cover. All travel insurance providers on our panel offer emergency medical treatment and repatriation for COVID-19-related claims. You should also be able to find cover for holiday cancellations and accommodation costs if you’re forced to extend your stay.
When you compare travel insurance with us, it’s easy to compare levels of COVID-19 cover. Just use the ‘more details’ option on the quote results page.