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 a long-stay trip, like backpacking.
Additional coronavirus cover
Some travel insurance providers are now offering cover for disruption related to COVID-19. Policies could include cover for:
- cancellation if you or anyone covered by the policy gets a positive coronavirus test in the two weeks before you travel
- medical costs if you get coronavirus while you’re away and need medical help
- additional transport and/or accommodation expenses if you fall ill with coronavirus while you’re away
Not every policy or every provider will offer this kind of cover so, if you’re interested, we’ve made it easier to find and compare. When you’re getting a quote, simply:
- select the “More details” option within the yellow covid-19 information box on the quote results page
- read the policy document thoroughly so you can see what is and isn’t covered before you buy
You can easily see the policy documents to check what COVID-19 cover is offered:
- select the “More details” button
- scroll down to “Full Policy Details”
- select “Full Policy Wording” and check out the cover and the exclusions
Take a close look at the policy to make sure it offers you what you want, not just for coronavirus but for the usual things too, like baggage cover and flight delays.
While you’re at it, see what evidence you’ll need to support any COVID-19 claim. That way you can make sure you have the necessary documents to help make sure your claim is processed speedily.
What to check before you travel
If you haven’t been away for a while, you might find that some things have changed because of Brexit and the pandemic. To help you minimise stress and have a relaxing holiday, here are some of the essentials you need to think about before you travel.
- Have you got at least six months left on your passport? If not, it can take up to 10 weeks to renew your passport, according to the government website.
- Have you organised PCR tests for your departure and re-entry to the UK? You won’t need a test for re-entry if you’re fully vaccinated and travelling from a country not on the red list after 4am on 4 October 2021.
- Do you need a visa?
- What are the lockdown restrictions where you’re going?
- Are you covered for cancellation?
- Have you checked any destination specific entry requirements?
How does the traffic light system work?
From 4 October 2021, the previous traffic light system has been replaced by a single red list of countries. If you’re fully vaccinated and you travel to England from a country not on the red list, you won’t have to quarantine or take a pre-departure COVID-19 test before you come back to England. However, you will need to take a COVID-19 test on day two after your arrival. The Government also says it intends to replace the day two PCR test with the cheaper lateral flow test by the end of October.
Correct 30 September 2021. The situation is changing all the time, so check your local government advice within your devolved nation for the latest rules.
The travel traffic light system currently states that trips to green and amber listed countries are legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant government.
Please note: from 4am on 4 October 2021, the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries.
Currently, if your destination of choice is on the green or amber list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you are aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and ensure travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed with short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.
The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to red list countries. Most insurance policies purchased to cover a trip to a destination where the FCDO has instructed citizens not to travel to won’t be valid, however, some insurance providers may offer reduced cover if you’re travelling for essential purposes. Should you have any queries, please check the policy wording, or contact your chosen provider before purchasing, to ensure the cover meets your needs.
Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.Find out more here
Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions
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.
MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.
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 theft, alternative accommodation and travel arrangements if required.
All these can prove costly if you’re not properly insured. Medical costs abroad can easily run into the tens of thousands – even hundreds of thousands – if you need specialist treatment or an emergency evacuation.
Something as small as a lost passport can have huge consequences. You’ll need to arrange a replacement/get an emergency passport, you might have to make alternative travel arrangements and you may need accommodation while you wait for your replacement to be issued.
What does travel insurance typically cover?
A typical travel insurance policy could offer cover for:
If your baggage is lost on its way to your destination, loss of baggage cover will allow you to claim for its value. While it’s a standard inclusion, you should check the amount your luggage is insured for as limits do vary. And check the single-item limit, which is the maximum your provider will pay out for any one specific item.
If your baggage is lost during transit, you should report it to your airline as soon as possible.
This will insure your luggage or personal belongings on the way to your destination, as well as while you’re out and about on holiday. You’ll need to report a theft as soon as possible, and get a crime reference number or police report as some policies won’t cover you without one. You should also look out for any limits to the amount you can claim for, as these vary among providers. If you’re travelling with a particularly valuable item, you should also check the single-item limit (see above).
This can protect you if you need to cancel your travel plans at the last minute, due to injury or illness, or perhaps a bereavement. If your holiday is cancelled for a reason that’s listed in your policy, you’ll be able to claim towards the cost of your trip.
If you’re travelling with a pre-existing medical condition, you should consider medical cover. Typically, you’ll need to complete a health questionnaire and some policies may require a medical exam. If you’re unfortunately refused cover, you could try applying through a specialist provider.
If you or a family member are injured or fall seriously ill while abroad, you may need to be brought back to the UK to ensure you receive the best care. Emergency repatriation can cover the costs of bringing you home, which can be eye-wateringly expensive. To give you an idea, travel insurance policies typically provide cover with a limit of £10 million.
Other things to look out for in a travel policy
Most annual and single policies will cover you for a maximum stay of between 90 and 180 days, so check the details if you’re planning a long break. If you’re intending to be away for longer than this, you may need a long-stay policy.
The following add-ons may also be available:
What type of travel insurance is right for me?
Picking the right travel insurance policy depends on the type of cover you need. The most common types of policy are:
- Single trip: will cover you for one short trip.
- Annual multi-trip: likely to be the most cost-effective if you’re taking more than one trip a year. There may be a limit on the total number of days abroad you’re covered for: typically, 30 or 31 days.
- Worldwide: travel insurance for trips outside of Europe.
- Winter sports: cover for skiing, snowboarding or other winter activities. This type of policy should also cover expensive equipment, like skis and snowboards.
- Cruise: covers the specific risks and activities associated with this type of holiday.
- Couples: cover for two adults who live at the same address and are in a relationship.
- Family: covers members of a family with one simple policy. Some insurance providers will offer free cover to family members under 18.
- Group: this could suit if you’re travelling with up to 10 friends or family members, if you’re all travelling from the same country.
- Business travel: if you’re travelling for work, then business travel insurance is tailored to your needs.
You can also find specialist insurance for:
How much is travel insurance?
It depends on the level of cover you opt for, how long you’re away and where you’re travelling to. Typically, the higher the level of cover, the more it may cost. Some providers offer silver, gold and platinum levels of cover.
Additional travel insurance cover options
Depending on what you’re going to be doing while you’re away and your personal needs, you might want to consider the following add-ons to your policy:
- Travel gadget insurance – to cover loss, theft or damage of devices like phones, tablets and gaming handhelds. Checks 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.
- Natural disaster cover – offers cover if your trip is affected by a natural disaster, like volcanic ash, earthquakes, floods or hurricanes.
- 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.
- Hazardous activities – if you’re planning on going paragliding, ballooning, skiing or taking part in water sports, you may need additional cover.
- Wedding cover – additional cover for your wedding dress, rings and gifts, for example.
Frequently asked questions
Has Brexit affected travel insurance?
The Brexit transition period ended at midnight on 31 December 2020. Now you need to have at least six months to run on your passport to visit countries in the EU. You’ll need to get your passport renewed ahead of your trip if it’s close to the expiry date. 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 card (European Health Insurance Card) is still valid until the date of expiry, but will be replaced by the GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card), which UK residents can apply for on the NHS website. Unofficial websites may charge you if you apply through them, so be careful to use only the official NHS website. It’s still recommended to make sure your travel insurance gives you an adequate level of cover.
See more on the changes that Brexit brings for travellers.
Do I need travel insurance if I have a European Health Insurance Card or Global Health Insurance Card?
Yes, if you want cover for cancellation, theft, loss of baggage and so on. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) provides you with either free or discounted medical care in state-run hospitals or surgeries in the EU and other participating nations.
While the EHIC and GHIC provide help with medical care, you shouldn’t presume this offers you the same protection as travel insurance. For example, it won’t cover you for an emergency repatriation if you need to be returned to the UK for specialist medical care. This can be extremely expensive to fund yourself.
Can I get travel insurance for the UK?
Yes, you can get travel insurance for trips in the UK. If you’re thinking of taking a staycation, you’ll still face some of the same risks you would travelling abroad so it’s a good idea to get travel insurance. The NHS will cover your medical needs, but it’s possible that an internal flight or train might be cancelled, your hotel closes or your baggage is lost or damaged. Travel insurance can cover you for all these things
You might want to consider a policy with enhanced coronavirus cover.
Will travel insurance cover lost passports?
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've got a medical condition?
Yes, you can still get travel insurance even if you have a medical condition, although you might need to look for a specialist provider. That’s because having certain health issues could mean that you’re more likely to need medical treatment while you’re on holiday. Unlike in the UK, you’ll be expected to pay for any care you receive and even common procedures can cost thousands of pounds.
See more on travel insurance with medical conditions with some specialist advice if you have cancer or heart conditions.
Can I get travel insurance when I am already on holiday?
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?
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 receive 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. Therefore, it’s not usually advantageous 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 and travel documents with you. It’s a good idea to have a printed and e-version of these.
Contact the police or relevant authority as soon as possible to get an official police report if your claim is for theft or the result of any other criminal activity. Your policy may set out how quickly you must do this, which can be as short as 24 hours after the crime took place.
Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. Even if you’re waiting for a police report, it can be helpful to let your provider know you want to make a claim immediately, to start the process and get further advice. If it’s a claim for medical treatment, you’ll want to confirm which procedures you’re covered for and for how much. Contact details should be found in your policy documents.
Keep or request or any evidence to support your claim. You’ll need evidence to back up your claim for it to be successful, so make sure you have the necessary paperwork, for example, receipts, or police or medical reports.
How can I compare travel insurance?
When looking for the best travel insurance policy for you, comparing the latest deals is a good place to start. We provide impartial and independent comparison from a range of UK travel insurance providers.
Here's what you need to compare travel insurance quotes:
- The type of cover you’re looking for – single trip, annual or backpacker cover (long-stay trip)
- The destination(s) you’re travelling to
- Your departure and returning travel dates
- The type of trip you’re taking – this could be a business trip or a cruise
- Details of any high-risk activities you’ll be participating in
- The number of travellers you need to insure
- The cost of your trip
- Details of your baggage cover requirements
And if you’re looking for enhanced COVID-19 cover, just tick the box on the travel insurance quote results page.