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Carl the Wombat with Aleksandr and Sergei after being picked up from the airport
A busy airport Carl the Wombat with Aleksandr and Sergei after being picked up from the airport

Travel insurance


  • Find cover for pre-existing medical conditions
  • Plus, enjoy fantastic rewards, on us*

^ Based on Compare the Market data for a single trip travel policy for a 20 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling in Europe for 2 nights. Prices correct as of June 2024.

We work with 42 trusted travel insurance brands[2], including:

[2] Correct as of June 2024.

Why is travel insurance important?

Travel insurance is important because it can protect you from unexpected bills caused by problems on your holiday, from accidents and illness to cancellation and lost baggage.

Only 54% of people polled by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) think travel insurance is essential, but events beyond your control can cause havoc with your holiday plans and could leave you seriously out of pocket.

Medical costs alone could run into thousands when you’re abroad. Take the case of one traveller who suffered a serious blood infection while visiting Thailand. They were hit with a bill for £250,000 after being repatriated back to the UK. Without travel insurance, they would’ve had to cover those costs alone.

While that is an extreme case, the average emergency medical treatment claim was £1,750 in 2022, up 26% on the previous year, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

What does travel insurance cover?

What’s typically covered?

  • Lost baggage – if your baggage and belongings are lost, stolen or damaged during your trip, loss of baggage cover allows you to claim for their full or partial value.
  • Cancellation cover – typically offers up to £7,500 of cover if you need to cancel your travel plans at the last minute due to injury or illness, or perhaps a bereavement.
  • Medical expenses – if you’re injured or fall ill while you’re away.
  • Emergency repatriation – if you or a family member need to be brought home after an injury, serious illness or death abroad.
  • Travel disruption – if bad weather, strikes or a breakdown disrupt your flight or ferry, for example, you could claim for delays that have affected your trip.

What’s typically not covered?

  • Changing your mind – you won’t be compensated if you decide to cancel simply because you no longer want to go on holiday. Holiday cancellation insurance will only cover situations beyond your control that are specified in your policy – for example, illness or bereavement.
  • Missed flight – you won’t be covered if it’s your fault you’ve missed the flight. For example, if you oversleep or don’t leave enough time to get through security.
  • Undeclared medical conditions – you must tell your provider if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, otherwise you won’t be covered for any claim you make related to that condition. If you have a serious health issue, you might need a specialist policy.
  • Airline strikes – your airline or travel agent should refund you or make alternative arrangements, although you might be able to claim for related costs such as accommodation through your travel insurance. 
  • Accidents under the influence – most travel insurance policies won’t pay out if you have an accident while you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Extreme sports – it’s important to check which sporting activities your holiday insurance covers as you may need a specialist policy for riskier sports.
  • Natural disasters – your policy might cover you if there’s an unexpected natural disaster. But if the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advises against travel and you still choose to book a holiday, you won’t be covered by your policy.

When do I need travel insurance?

Whenever you book a trip away it’s recommended you have travel insurance. Whether you’re planning a short break to Venice or are backpacking around the world, travel insurance is vital to ensure you’re protected from any unexpected mishaps while you’re travelling.

Ideally, you should buy travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. That way, you’re covered if you need to cancel before setting off. This is especially important if you’ve already paid for flights, accommodation and any pre-booked activities.

Buy travel insurance to suit your trip

Picking the best holiday insurance policy for you depends on the type of cover you need. Types of policy include:

Annual multi trip

If you’re taking two or more holidays or work trips a year, this is likely to be the most cost-effective way to get travel insurance cover.

Read more about annual travel insurance

Cruise travel insurance

Whether your ship misses a port stop because of bad weather or you’re taken ill at sea, cruise travel insurance could cover you.

Read more about cruise travel insurance

Single trip

A single-trip travel insurance policy could be the cheapest way of getting the travel cover you need, covering you for one trip.

Read more about single-trip travel insurance

Backpacker insurance

Backpacker insurance is a type of cover aimed at people who plan to travel for long periods, often to multiple countries in one trip.

Read more about travel insurance for backpackers

Winter sports cover

Cover for skiing, snowboarding or other winter activities. This type of policy could also cover equipment like skis and snowboards.

Read more about winter sports travel insurance

Business travel insurance

Get insurance designed around your needs as a business traveller, from protecting your laptop to covering extra travel expenses.

Read more about business travel insurance

How to get cheaper travel insurance

Here are some of the most important factors to consider when looking for cheaper travel insurance:

Compare quotes

Shop around to see how different policies and prices compare. Check out which features are important to you, what’s included as standard and what you may need to pay extra for.

Choose the right policy type

If you’re only taking one holiday, a single-trip policy could be cheaper. If you travel often during the year, a multi-trip annual policy could offer better value. And if you’re travelling with friends or family, group or family travel insurance could work out cheaper than individual policies.

Get the right cover for your trip

Make sure you have the right cover for the type of trip you’re taking, your destination and the activities you’ll be doing. Cheapest isn’t always best, especially if you need extra cover for winter sports or tailored insurance for a cruise.

Only pay for what you need

There’s no point buying add-ons you don’t need. For example, if you’re not taking expensive gadgets with you, don’t buy extra cover for them.

How much is travel insurance?

When comparing travel insurance with Compare the Market, you could get cheap travel insurance for a week away from £5.97[1].

However, it depends on the level of cover you choose, how long you’re away and where you’re travelling to. The best value travel insurance isn’t necessarily the cheapest or the most expensive – what matters is that the policy suits your needs.

[1] Based on Compare the Market data for a single trip travel policy for a 20 year old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling in Europe for 1 week. Prices correct as of June 2024.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

It’s vital to have medical cover if you’re travelling with a pre-existing medical condition, such as diabetes or cancer. You may need healthcare while you’re away and the costs of paying for it out of your own pocket could be enormous.

Not all providers will offer cover for pre-existing conditions as standard, so you may need a specialist policy. We can help make your search easier: when you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. Remember, it’s vital that you give the insurance provider honest, accurate information about any medical conditions you have – if you don’t, you risk invalidating your policy.

If your condition is more serious, MoneyHelper has a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone. You can call them on 0800 138 7777.

Upgrade your holiday travel insurance options

Depending on what you’re planning to do while you’re away and your personal needs, you might want to add extras to your travel insurance quote:

  • Travel gadget insurance – to cover loss, theft or damage of devices like phones, tablets and gaming handhelds. Check exactly what’s covered before you buy. 
  • Terrorism cover – offers cover if you have to cancel or cut short your trip because a terrorist act is committed within a set distance of where you’re staying.
  • Travel connection delays – cover if you miss a connecting flight or ferry, for example, because your original transport was delayed.
  • Travel disruption – can offer extended cover if the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) changes its travel advice, or if strikes or industrial action mean your transport is cancelled.
  • Extreme sports – if you’re planning on paragliding, ballooning, skiing or taking part in water sports, you may need additional cover. 
  • Wedding cover – cover for your wedding dress, rings and gifts, for example. 
Author image Anna McEntee

What our expert says...

“While it can be tempting to go for the cheapest policy to cut your travel costs, you need to look at what levels of protection the policy offers. Cheaper plans may have lower levels of cover and you might be expected to pay more towards a claim too.”

- Anna McEntee, Home, pet and travel insurance expert

Start your holiday insurance comparison

Give us a few details

Tell us where and when you’re going, what type of cover you need and whether you have any medical conditions to declare.

We’ll search for quotes

We’ll show you a list of quotes, so you can choose the right travel insurance for your needs.

Buy your policy

Read the policy carefully before you buy to make sure it provides all the cover you need. Then relax and enjoy your trip.

What specialist travel insurance policies are there?

At Compare the Market, we’ve made it easy to compare a range of travel insurance policies that cater specifically to your needs. 

Solo traveller insurance

Cover if you’re travelling alone. You can choose from a single-trip policy or annual cover for multiple holidays. 

Couples travel insurance

Cover for both you and your partner under one policy, which can often be cheaper than taking out two separate policies. 

Family travel insurance  

Typically covers parents and children under 18 living at the same address. A family policy can often be cheaper than separate policies. Some providers might even throw in free cover for the kids, but conditions could apply.

Group travel insurance

You can generally cover up to 10 people on one policy, including family, friends, social clubs or anyone else you’re travelling with. 

Over 70s travel insurance

Cover that’s tailored towards older people’s health and medical needs. Over 70s insurance is more likely to cover pre-existing medical conditions.

Under 18s travel insurance

Cover for your child if they’re heading overseas without you, whether meeting a family member abroad or going on a post-exams getaway.

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Expert tools, tips and guides

With excellent customer reviews, huge market coverage and useful practical tips, our comparison service can help you find the best travel insurance for your needs.

Travel insurance for popular destinations

Click the links below to find out more about travel insurance for popular travel destinations including...

Frequently asked questions

How does travel insurance work?

Travel insurance works by protecting you financially against certain problems that could occur while you’re away. If you need to make a claim, you should contact your insurance provider as soon as you can. 

You’ll usually be able to claim online or phone a dedicated claims line, although you may need to pay for any costs upfront before claiming them back. So, it’s vital to keep any receipts and hospital bills you’ll need to support your claim.

What does excess mean in travel insurance?

Excess in travel insurance is the amount you agree to pay towards any claim you make.

For example, if you have a policy with a £100 excess and claim £1,000 for a cancellation, you’d pay the £100 and your insurance provider would reimburse you the remaining £900.

Has Brexit affected travel to Europe?

Brexit introduced several changes for travellers between the UK and EU:

  • You now need to have at least three 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. When it expires, you’ll need to get a 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 an EHIC or GHIC?

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.

However, it’s important to have an EHIC or GHIC when you go away. Some insurance providers won’t cover medical claims unless you do.

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.

Be aware that some travel insurance policies for the UK will require you have a minimum three-night pre-booked stay to be covered.

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. You can speak to providers of standard travel insurance to see if they will cover you, but if not, 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.

But you won’t be covered if you fly against medical advice and might not be covered if you give birth abroad.

You might want to check your policy to see if it covers holiday cancellation or curtailment due to pregnancy complications. Also, see what medical cover you have, just in case baby comes sooner than expected.

Can I get travel insurance when I am already abroad?

You might be able to buy specialist travel insurance after you’ve departed, although you should really arrange cover before you set off.

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?

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.

Page last reviewed on 15 JULY 2024
by Anna McEntee