Annual vs. single trip travel insurance

When you’re choosing a travel insurance policy, you’ll be asked if you want to buy annual multi-trip or single trip cover. We look at the differences between the two to help you make an informed decision.

When you’re choosing a travel insurance policy, you’ll be asked if you want to buy annual multi-trip or single trip cover. We look at the differences between the two to help you make an informed decision.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
6
minute read
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Last Updated 8 JUNE 2022

What is annual travel insurance?

Annual travel insurance – also called multi-trip insurance – covers you for a year from the date the policy starts.

You’re covered for however many trips you go on in those 12 months, but you’ll usually be limited to around 31 days per trip. Some insurance providers may have a limit of up to 60 days, but this is down to the individual provider, so if you’re planning a long holiday it’s something to check.

Annual travel cover pros and cons

The advantages of annual travel insurance include:

  • Value for money – can work out cheaper per trip than single trip cover if you take more than two holidays a year.
  • Convenience – you only need to buy one policy a year to cover your trips.
  • UK trips covered – being insured for a whole year means any domestic holidays you go on are usually covered too.

The disadvantages of annual travel insurance include:

  • Age limits – many annual policies won’t cover travellers over the age of 75.
  • Cover not tailored to each trip – you need to choose UK, Europe, worldwide excluding the USA, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico, or worldwide cover, so this can be a problem if you’re not sure where you’ll be travelling to. 
  • Cost – annual insurance won’t be cost-effective if you don’t travel enough.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

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.

What is single trip travel insurance?

A single trip policy covers you for a one-off holiday and ends when you come home. You can choose which country (or countries) you want cover for.

It’s a good idea to take out single trip cover as soon as you book your holiday, so you have cover should you need to cancel your trip for a reason covered by your policy.

As a one-off cost, this type of policy is usually cheaper than an annual one – but if you go on a few holidays each year and take out a single policy each time, the cost can add up.

Find out more about single trip travel insurance.

Single trip cover pros and cons

The advantages of a single trip travel insurance policy include:

  • Price – can be cheaper than annual cover if you’re only going on one holiday in the next 12 months.
  • Tailored cover – you only pay for the number of days you’re away and the area visited.
  • Higher or no age limits – annual travel insurance often has an age limit, so if you’re aged over 75, single trip cover could be the way to go.

The disadvantages of a single trip travel insurance policy include:

  • Cost – if you take more than one holiday a year, a single policy can work out more expensive per trip compared to an annual policy.
  • Shorter-term cover – single trip cover is based on fixed dates, so there’s no flexibility if you want to extend your stay.
  • Time and effort – you’ll need to buy a new policy each time you travel.

Is multi-trip travel insurance cheaper than single trip cover?

This will depend on how many trips you go on in a year and the level of cover you need.

On the face of it, you only have to go on a couple of holidays a year for annual travel insurance to be more cost-effective, as you can see from the table below.

Destination

Single trip policy cost for 1 week [1]

Annual policy cost [1]

Annual policy cost per trip [1] (based on two trips)

Annual policy cost per trip [1] (based on four trips)

Europe only

£6

£11

£5.50

£2.75

Worldwide

£13

£26

£13

£6.50


[1]
Based on Compare the Market data for a 20-year-old with no pre-existing medical conditions. Prices correct as of April 2022.

But it’s not actually that simple. There are situations when single-trip insurance might be cheaper.

For example, if you’re going on one skiing holiday in Canada and a city break to Paris, the two trips would need very different levels of insurance. The skiing holiday would need worldwide insurance including USA, Canada and the Caribbean, plus winter sports cover. That could be very expensive if you bought an annual policy – potentially not worth it just to cover your short trip to France as well. Getting two single-trip policies could be the more sensible choice.

The good thing about this is that you don’t have to guess – you can compare travel insurance quotes for your trips, both annual and single trip cover, and see how they compare.

Annual vs single trip insurance – what else should I consider?

When you’re comparing annual and single trip travel insurance, be sure to check exactly what is and isn’t covered, and consider the following:

You should also consider how spontaneous your travel plans tend to be. Even if you don’t have multiple trips planned, if you’re the type to jet off for a weekend at short notice, you should factor that into your insurance choice.

With an annual policy, you don’t need to worry about cover every time you book a holiday. But remember, if you’ve bought annual travel insurance that only covers Europe, don’t spontaneously go to Thailand without upgrading your travel insurance first.

What do annual and single trip travel insurance policies cover?

Both types of travel insurance policy will typically cover:

  • Medical expenses – travel insurance usually pays towards the cost of any medical treatment you need while you’re away, which can be very expensive – especially if you end up in a private hospital. You should also look for emergency repatriation cover to get you back home, if needed.
  • Cancellation and curtailment – if you need to cancel or cut short your holiday for an insured reason like a family bereavement, your provider may reimburse you.
  • Missed departures and delays – if you’re delayed because of strikes or bad weather, then you could get some money back.
  • Luggage – don’t underestimate the value of your belongings, especially when you include your phone, tablet, smart watch or any other gadget you can’t live without. Travel insurance should cover the cost of replacing these if your baggage or possessions are lost, damaged or stolen.

There will be limits to the amount your insurance provider will pay for each of the above, so always check the details before you buy a policy.

Annual vs single trip insurance. Which should I choose?

To sum up, think about your travel plans for the next 12 months. If you’re sure you’ll only take one holiday, then single trip cover is likely to be your best option. If you’re planning more than one trip, you might be better off getting annual multi-trip insurance.

But it also depends on where you’re going. If, for example, you’re travelling to Europe three times but also have a holiday in the USA, it could be cheaper to buy an annual European policy, then arrange a separate single trip policy for your visit to the States.

Start comparing

The first step to deciding on annual vs single trip travel insurance is to get quotes for each option. It’s quick and easy with Compare the Market.

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