A simples guide

Can I get travel insurance cover once I'm already on holiday?

It’s great when you disembark the plane and get to your destination, it’s even better when you arrive at the hotel so you can unpack and get your bearings. But as you’re putting out your toothbrush and sorting through your foreign currency you might realise that you’ve forgotten something – your travel insurance. It’s best not to miss this step before your holiday, so is there anything you can do?

Can I buy travel insurance after leaving home?

The short answer is – not really. Most mainstream insurance providers will cover you up to the point that you leave your house and will stipulate in their policy that your trip ‘starts when you leave home and ends when you return’. So you can buy your travel insurance right until the last second when you shut the front door but step out onto the road and you’re on your own.

You might find some insurers will cover you when you’re at the airport but most of them will have different cut off points. So, you might be able to get insurance when you’re in the departure lounge, or you might even be able to get cover while you’re sitting on the plane waiting for it to taxi onto the runway. But when you’re juggling boarding passes, suitcases and even kids, do you really want to be faffing around with something you could’ve got sorted months before? It’s also likely that to clarify this point, you will need to make a call to your insurance provider, probably not the relaxing pre-flight experience you had in mind.

travel insurance already abroad

Travel insurance – why you shouldn’t leave home without it

Travel insurance isn’t just about what happens when you’re on holiday, it’s the lead up to it as well. A good travel policy will cover you for cancellation, missed departures, delays and possibly even travel abandonment.

This means that if you miss your flight because of severe traffic or an accident, or if there’s a strike or emergency that means you have to cancel your holiday, then you could be entitled to some compensation. Your policy should also cover you in the event of your holiday provider going bust. Of course, failing to have travel insurance in the first place, means you won’t be eligible for any money back in any of these scenarios.

You should really buy travel insurance when you book your holiday, or at least have some sort of reminder to book it nearer the time. The reason why most insurance provider won’t touch you if you’ve already left home, is because it opens them up to fraudulent claims – like that claim for the accident that happened yesterday or for that bag that’s already failed to turn up. Even some specialist providers that might cover you when you’re already abroad will have a clause that states you can’t claim for a number of days after you’ve taken out the policy.

Why should I have travel insurance?

Travel insurance should be at the top of your ‘to do’ list after you’ve booked your holiday. Along with compensation for cancellation, missed departures, delays and abandonment, a decent policy should cover you for medical expenses and emergency flights back home (repatriation). Healthcare can be expensive when you’re abroad even if you’re travelling to Europe and have an EHIC card. Remember, though, an EHIC will only provide you with the same free or subsidised treatment that locals get. You might find you need more specific care or a stay in hospital, both of which add up. Also in the event you are taken to a private hospital, the EHIC will not be valid.

You should also ensure that your policy includes curtailment just in case you need to come home in an emergency. This means that your provider will pay out for anything you’ve already forked out for and will miss out on.

Think about how much it would cost to replace all of your possessions and double check what cover is in place for valuables like jewellery, smartphones, tablets and cameras. They may not all be covered under ‘belongings’ and you might have to take out a separate policy for particularly expensive items.

Don’t wait – compare now

The lesson here is, make sure you book your travel insurance before you go on holiday. Leaving it to the last minute just causes avoidable stress and it also means you’ll probably rush into making a choice that isn’t the best fit for you. There’s also no guarantee you’ll even get cover if you’re already abroad, even from a specialist. So, no need to dither, start comparing the market and then sit back and just think of that holiday.

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