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.

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.

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
5
minute read
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Posted 18 JANUARY 2021

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!

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 

The travel traffic light system currently states that trips to green and amber listed countries are legally permitted if you live in England and Scotland. If you live in Wales and Northern Ireland, you still need to follow the rules for your relevant government.

Please note: from 4am on 4 October 2021, the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries.

Currently, if your destination of choice is on the green or amber list, you still need to check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. This is to ensure you are aware of any specific requirements relating to entry and ensure travellers from the UK are permitted. Countries can have their traffic light status changed with short notice and you should take this into consideration when looking to travel. Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

The FCDO currently advises against all but essential travel to red list countries. Most insurance policies purchased to cover a trip to a destination where the FCDO has instructed citizens not to travel to won’t be valid, however, some insurance providers may offer reduced cover if you’re travelling for essential purposes. Should you have any queries, please check the policy wording, or contact your chosen provider before purchasing, to ensure the cover meets your needs.

Travel within England, Scotland and Wales is permitted under the current guidelines. However, public health rules and lockdown restrictions continue to vary, including entry restrictions for Northern Ireland. Check the latest guidance from the official tourism boards for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.

Find out more here

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

When you declare medical conditions on our website, we’ll only show quotes from insurance providers who will cover all declared medical conditions, with no exclusions. 

MoneyHelper has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at MoneyHelper or by calling them on 0800 138 7777.

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.
  • Take your EHIC** or GHIC. 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.

**After Brexit, and the UK officially left the EU with a deal in place, things have changed. You won’t be able to apply for an EHIC anymore, but, if you have one already, issued before the end of 2020, then it’ll still be valid until the expiry date.

However, the UK government has introduced a replacement called the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). If you don’t have an EHIC, or once yours expires, you can apply for a GHIC here, and it should arrive within 10 days. The GHIC will offer the same cover as the EHIC did in EU countries.

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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