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Compare travel insurance for under 18s

Compare travel insurance for under 18s

What do you do when your teenager is ready to travel abroad without you? Some family travel insurance policies cover your children even if you’re not travelling with them, but others don’t – so you may need to take out a separate under 18 travel insurance policy.

Patrick Ikhena
From the Travel team
minute read
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Posted 21 JANUARY 2020

Why does an under 18 need travel insurance?

No matter how sensible your teen, when they set off on their first holiday with their friends you’re bound to worry. And, just like an adult, they should be covered for things that could go wrong, such as:

  • lost and stolen luggage
  • overseas medical treatment
  • flying home in an emergency
  • high-risk activities like skiing

With the average cost of a medical expense claim standing at £1,300, and extreme scenarios reaching tens of thousands of pounds, travel insurance is a must have at any age – and especially for inexperienced teen travellers.

Of course, the same applies to younger children – the only difference is that you’re likely to worry more!


On 7 September 2020, the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) updated the list of countries that are exempt from its ongoing advice against all non-essential international travel.

If you choose to travel overseas to a destination where the FCDO is advising against non-essential travel at the time of your departure, then your insurance policy will be invalid, and any claim likely to be rejected.

For domestic travel, please check the local public health rules for the destination you wish to travel to within the United Kingdom.

For more information, please see our coronavirus and travel insurance page.

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

Absolutely. There are a number of insurance providers that will provide travel insurance for a child under 18, whether they’re travelling with you, with another adult, or alone. This cover should give you peace of mind when your child is heading on a trip abroad. You can compare travel insurance for under 18s easily with Compare the Market. Just check carefully what’s covered in your policy document.

Is my under 18 covered on our family travel insurance?

If you have a 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, and others won’t. If you’re unsure, your insurance provider should be able to help you.

How old is an unaccompanied minor?

If you see the term “unaccompanied minor” in a document or from an airline, it means a child aged between 5 and 15 who is travelling alone without a parent or legal guardian. The general unwritten rule is that your child should be at least 5 before they fly independently.  For younger children they may insist on an escort service and charge an additional fee. Airlines set their own minimum age for flying alone and this can vary widely, so check before booking.

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

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. First, you should check what cover is already in place. There are two important things to look into:

  • 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. It might help to know that one insurance provider paid out £32,000 for a four-day hospital stay in the USA to treat a 12-year-old girl who got pneumonia on a school trip. They also paid for the cost of flying out a member of the family to be with her.

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

  • The destination. Different travel insurance policies cover different destinations. If your child is planning an Interrail trip in France and Germany, 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 taking part in a skiing trip in the Alps? You’ll need to add winter sports cover to their under 18 travel insurance. Make sure you know exactly what activities you child will do, and buy policy add-ons as you need to. Find out more about winter sports travel insurance and extreme sports travel insurance.
  • Telling your child the rules. While it might seem obvious to you that baggage or mobile might not be covered by insurance if left unattended, your child is less likely to know. Giving them a few rules based on your insurance cover could save you a lot of money and stress.
  • Getting an EHIC card. This provides state-funded healthcare within the European Economic Area. It doesn’t replace an under 18 travel insurance policy, but it might help towards medical costs and some insurance providers may not charge the policy excess if your child has an EHIC card. Remember, it isn’t yet certain whether EHIC cards will still be valid after Brexit.

Compare travel insurance for a child under 18

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

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