Compare travel insurance for under-18s

If your child is taking a trip without you, you’ll need to make sure they have appropriate insurance. Some family travel insurance policies cover children under the age of 18 even if you’re not travelling with them. Here’s what you need to know before waving the little darlings off…


If your child is taking a trip without you, you’ll need to make sure they have appropriate insurance. Some family travel insurance policies cover children under the age of 18 even if you’re not travelling with them. Here’s what you need to know before waving the little darlings off…


Written by
Kate Hughes
Last Updated
29 JUNE 2022
7 min read
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Why does an under-18 need travel insurance?

No matter how sensible your child, you’ll want them to be covered for unexpected events while on holiday, including:

  • lost or stolen luggage
  • flight cancellation
  • overseas medical treatment
  • flying home in an emergency

Medical treatment abroad can be eye-wateringly expensive. For example, an insurance provider recently paid out £32,000 for a four-day hospital stay in the US to treat a 12-year-old girl who fell ill with pneumonia on a school trip. They also paid for the cost of flying out a member of the family to be with her.

Customers with pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, your travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. Whatever happens, don’t lie to an insurance provider, because this could mean any claim you make is rejected. When you declare any medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show you quotes from insurance providers who will cover them, with no exclusions.

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.

Is it possible to get travel insurance for under-18s travelling alone?

Absolutely. Many insurance providers will offer travel insurance for a child under 18, whether they’re travelling with you, with another adult or alone.

You can compare travel insurance for under-18s easily with Compare the Market. Just be aware that a parent, legal guardian or other adult over the age of 18 needs to complete these details on the traveller’s behalf. You’ll also need to check carefully what’s covered by the policy. Be very clear on what the situation is if your child is taken ill abroad, for example.

What does under-18s travel insurance cover?

A good travel insurance policy for your child could cover:

  • Medical expenses – if your child falls ill or is injured during their trip, this will cover emergency medical care.
  • Repatriation – if your child would be better off being treated at home, this will cover the cost of getting them back to the UK.
  • Theft, loss, and damage to luggage – to cover baggage and personal items during their trip. If they’re taking expensive gadgets like a smartphone or tablet with them, you might want to consider additional gadget cover.
  • Cancellation and curtailment – can cover costs if your child’s trip has to be cancelled or cut short because of a reason listed in the policy, like illness, injury or bereavement.
  • Activities and sports – check the policy to see which sports and activities are covered as standard. You might need to pay extra for your child to be covered for skiing and snowboarding and more adventurous activities like horse riding and zip-lining.
  • Coronavirus cover – many policies now offer cover for cancellations, medical care, repatriation and extended stays as a result of COVID-19. When you compare with us, we can show you travel insurance quotes for different levels of coronavirus cover. Just choose the ‘more details’ option on the quote results page.

Top tip

It’s well worth sorting out your child’s travel insurance as soon as their trip is booked. That way, they’ll have cover in place should they need to cancel before they’re due to leave.

What’s not covered by under-18s travel insurance?

As with any standard travel insurance, your child’s policy won’t usually cover:

  • Mishaps involving alcohol or drugs – your child won’t be covered for any injuries or accidents that occur if they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions that haven’t been declared to your insurance provider.
  • Extreme sports – if you have a fearless teenager, it’s worth knowing that a standard policy won’t usually cover high-adrenaline sports or adventure activities like rock climbing, white-water rafting or canoeing. But you can usually add on cover for an extra cost.
  • Acts of terrorism – some policies may offer limited cover for terrorist acts. At the very least, make sure your child’s policy covers emergency medical treatment as a result of a terrorist attack.
  • Travel to a country against FCDO advice.

Is my under-18 covered on our family travel insurance?

Maybe. If you have an existing family travel insurance policy, check the terms and conditions before you buy separate insurance for your unaccompanied under-18 traveller. Some policies will cover your children even if they’re travelling alone, while others won’t. Check with your insurance provider to be sure.

Does my child need under-18s travel insurance for school trips?

If your child’s going on a school trip, don’t jump straight in and compare travel insurance for under-18s before checking what cover you might already have through:

  • Your family travel insurance policy, if you have one, may cover your child for school trips.
  • The school may have insurance in place for the trip. Ask what’s included before you buy your own policy.

Once you know the details, you can decide whether your child needs additional under-18s travel insurance.

What do I need to think about before I compare travel insurance for under-18s?

  • The destination. If your child is planning an Interrail trip in France and Germany, for example, they’ll need European cover. If they’re travelling to the United States, they’ll need worldwide cover including the USA.
  • The activities. Is your child going on a skiing trip to the Alps? You’ll need to add winter sports cover to their under-18 travel insurance. Find out more about winter sports travel insurance and extreme sports travel insurance.
  • Get them a GHIC Card. This provides state-funded healthcare within the EU and Switzerland. It doesn’t replace an under-18 travel insurance policy, but it might help towards emergency or necessary medical costs and some insurance providers may not charge the policy excess if your child needs to claim and has used a GHIC card.

Compare travel insurance for a child under 18

Compare the Market is an easy way to compare under-18 travel insurance providers with just a few clicks. We can help you compare policies for your young traveller, to ensure they have the cover they need for their adventures away from home.

Frequently asked questions

What does ‘unaccompanied minor’ mean?

‘Unaccompanied minor’ is a term used by airlines for children or teenagers who travel alone without a parent or legal guardian. The age limits for unaccompanied minors vary among airlines, but it’s usually between five and 15 years old.

For younger children, airlines may insist on an escort service and charge an additional fee. Some airlines don’t offer an unaccompanied minors service and will only allow children aged 14 and over to travel alone.

A 16 or 17-year-old travelling alone doesn’t count as an unaccompanied minor, but check with the airline if they’re travelling with younger brothers and sisters as the adult.

Check the airline’s requirements well in advance as there are likely to be legal permission forms to complete several days or even weeks before your child is due to travel. Don’t get caught out by the extra paperwork.

Can I get cover for my child if they travel abroad with another family?

If your child isn’t already covered by a family travel insurance policy, you can get cover for your child if they’re going away with a friend’s family. You’ll need to take out an individual policy for them, so you should compare quotes from insurance providers that offer cover for teens and children.

Will my child need travel insurance for a trip within the UK?

While they won’t need medical cover, as they’re already covered by the NHS, UK travel insurance can still be useful cover for holiday cancellation and lost or stolen baggage.

Can I get travel insurance for my baby or toddler?

Yes, everyone in your family should have travel insurance when travelling abroad, no matter how young they are. A good policy should also cover baby equipment that you need to take with you, like a travel cot, baby seat and buggy.

Your baby should be included under your adult policy – and some family travel insurance policies offer free cover for little ones. Check with your insurance provider to be sure who and what your policy covers.

Does my child need a GHIC card when travelling?

It’s a good idea to get your child a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if they’re travelling to Europe. The GHIC is a replacement for the old EHIC card. It entitles your child to ‘emergency and necessary’ state-provided medical care in EU countries and Switzerland.

However, a GHIC can’t be used outside Europe and, crucially, won’t cover your child for repatriation, lost baggage or flight cancellations, so they’ll still need travel insurance.

If your child is under 16, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC on their behalf.

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