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Compare travel insurance for under 18

If your child is taking a trip without you, you’ll need to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance for under 18. Some family travel insurance policies cover children at this age, 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 travel insurance for under 18. Some family travel insurance policies cover children at this age, 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
Insurance and finance expert
Last Updated
16 MAY 2023
6 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 cover
  • overseas medical treatment
  • flying home in an emergency

Medical treatment abroad can be eye-wateringly expensive. This is especially true in places like the USA and Canada, or if you require repatriation to the UK for treatment.

Is it possible to get travel insurance for children 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 under-18 travel insurance 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-18 travel insurance cover?

A good child travel insurance policy could cover:

  • Medical expenses – if your child falls ill or is injured during their trip, this will cover treatment for a medical emergency.
  • 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.

Travel insurance is available as single trip cover, or as an annual multi-trip policy. Annual travel insurance covers unlimited trips over a 12-month period, whereas single-trip travel insurance covers a one-off trip.

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-18 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 get additional 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 your policy documents before you buy separate children's travel insurance. Some family policies will cover your children even if they’re travelling alone, while others will require them to travel with a family member. Check with your insurance provider or read the policy wording to be sure.

Does my child need under-18 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 18 before checking what cover you might already have through:

  • Your family travel insurance policy, if you have one, may offer school trip travel insurance.
  • 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 18?

  • 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. If they’re visiting multiple countries in one trip, you should consider backpacker insurance.
  • 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 costsl. Some holiday insurance companies may not charge the policy excess if your child needs to claim and has used a GHIC card.

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 your claim 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.

Compare travel insurance for children 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 who travel alone. 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 a paid escort service. 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.

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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Kate Hughes - Insurance and finance expert

As an award-winning journalist, author and broadcast commentator, Kate has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years. She’s the former Money Editor for The Independent. Her work has appeared across the UK broadsheets as well as a number of international titles. Kate brings her financial expertise to inform her readers on ways to save money. She’s also written a book. ‘Going Zero: One Family’s Journey to Zero Waste and a Greener Lifestyle’ is available now.

Learn more about Kate

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