A simples guide

Do I need travel insurance?

If you think you don’t need travel insurance because you’ve got a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), then you might want to read on…

The EHIC will work in some European countries which have a similar system to our NHS. This is not the same in every European country and relies on you not being taken to a private hospital in an emergency. 

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Why is travel insurance important?

Travel insurance will ensure that you get proper medical care, all of your bills are taken care of and if you really need it then you’ll probably get a transfer to the UK as part of the package.

You don’t even need to have an accident for travel insurance to come into its own. It could also cover you for expenses, delays and even pickpockets. Be sure to check your policy details as the level of cover can vary between insurers and there might be cases where you need to report things such as theft to the police before you can make a claim. So don’t think you’re covered because you have your EHIC, check out the best deals with our price comparison service now.

If you are unlucky and you end up having medical treatment overseas then the average cost is £2040, which would be a bitter pill to swallow if you do not have the correct level of cover in place. If you get really unlucky and you end up having surgery in the US and you need repatriation to the UK, you could find yourself staring down both barrels of a £49,000 bill. That‘s not a relaxing holiday anymore and should answer the question: “Why do I need travel insurance?”

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Do I need travel insurance for Europe?

Ideally, yes. If you’re travelling in Europe then the EHIC card is a good start, but it covers the most basic level of emergency care in the local equivalent of the UK NHS hospital. You may be taken to a private hospital in an emergency in which case you would have to pay for your treatment yourself.

You might have some cover included as standard on your credit card or private healthcare policy. In some cases it will cover you for all eventualities and you don’t need additional cover when you travel overseas, but these cases are rare.  Most of these policies simply don’t cover emergency medical care abroad and if they do it can be a very limited level of protection.  

You should check your policy very carefully if you’re going to rely on it. The local equivalent of Accident & Emergency is no place to argue the fine print of an insurance policy and if you’re in any doubt whatsoever then consider taking out a travel insurance policy.

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What types of travel insurance are available?

You can choose from a wide variety of travel insurance policies depending on the type of trip you’re taking, where you’re going, your age and if you’ll be doing anything classed as dangerous while you’re out there. So this is the part for you if you’re thinking: “How much travel insurance do I need?”

 You can find a policy for a single person, a family policy or a group policy if a few of you are travelling together. You can get cover for a single trip or if you travel a lot, then you might want to look into an annual policy that covers you for a number of different trips throughout the year. This could save a lot of money in the long run.

If you’re over 65 then you may well need a specialist insurance policy and if you have a pre-existing medical condition or even if you’re pregnant then you might want to check the policy cover very carefully. You might need to increase your level of cover with a standard policy or opt for a specialist insurance policy that will cater to your specific needs.

Certain sports, like skiing, might be an issue with a basic policy, too, so think about what you’ll be doing and then get the right level of cover. Then you can just enjoy your holiday, without worrying about the expensive consequences.

What does travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance goes well beyond simple medical cover, although that is potentially that is the biggest expense it will protect you from. Travel insurance covers you if your holiday is cancelled altogether, you have to be bought back home to the UK early for any reason, delays due to the airline (in which case the airline may give you compensation too), loss while you’re away and most policies provide round the clock assistance too.

These 5 things are just the basics, if you’re going base jumping or heading into any country that could increase the risk of you being in danger, then you should look into a more specialist travel insurance policy to make sure you’re covered for every eventuality. If the Foreign Office advises against travel to certain countries you may also find that you’ll struggle to get cover from insurance providers.

Don’t think a cancellation won’t happen to you. Anything from snow on the runway to torrential rain, staff strikes and even volcanic ash clouds have caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose their holidays in recent years. Your airline provider may compensate you if your flight is cancelled but there is extra cover available through travel insurance to give you that additional peace of mind.

You could find yourself stranded at the airport in a foreign land and while the airline sometimes covers the local accommodation, there are no guarantees. In these instances it’s far better to have a robust travel policy.

Cancellation doesn’t just cover flight cancellation, you are often covered if you or a family member fall ill before you leave and you can’t travel for medical reasons. Providing you weren’t aware of illness in the family when you took out a travel insurance policy, a death in the family could even trigger a pay-out for the full amount of the holiday, so you can change your plans and go another time.

An emergency evacuation and repatriation from a far flung corner of the globe, meanwhile, can cost tens of thousands of pounds, without even starting on emergency medical treatment at a hospital. 

Protect your possessions too

Your baggage can easily go astray when you’re travelling round the world, too, and if you lose your passport, your cards and your phone then it’s better to have an insurance provider that has seen it all before and can provide 24-hour assistance on hand. Dealing with it all yourself can be a nightmare and this peace of mind alone can make the policy worth having.  

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Is travel insurance a legal requirement?

No, you’re not legally required to have travel insurance. Some of the more responsible tour operators will insist you have a policy in place before they confirm your travel, especially to countries like the US where there is no public health service like our NHS.  For peace of mind ensure that you and your loved ones are properly covered on a trip overseas. Accidents can happen, and they are more difficult to deal with on holiday, and you simply cannot leave it to chance when the costs could be so high.

So that’s the powerful case for travel insurance. Of course you might have complete cover in one of your many complimentary packages such as your life insurance, your credit cards or bank account. But check them carefully before you go overseas and if you think you need to get extra cover then start a travel insurance quote and compare the best cover and prices for you on the market right now, see how much you can save! 

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