Things travel insurance will cover you for… and things it won’t

Travel insurance could cover you for medical treatment, trip cancellation and losing your luggage while you’re away. But not every policy will cover every eventuality. We take a look at what’s likely to be covered and what isn’t.

Travel insurance could cover you for medical treatment, trip cancellation and losing your luggage while you’re away. But not every policy will cover every eventuality. We take a look at what’s likely to be covered and what isn’t.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: please check the latest government travel advice that sets out what you need to do, if anything, before you travel abroad and before you return home. You should also check the latest travel advice and entry requirements for each country you visit or transit through. Travel rules can change at short notice, so check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) for the latest information.

Josh Daniels
Travel Insurance expert
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Posted 26 OCTOBER 2021

What should travel insurance cover?

Although there’s no such thing as the ideal travel insurance policy for everyone, there’s a few ‘must-haves’ you should look out for.

You’ll need a policy that covers:

  • medical expenses if you fall ill away from home or because of an existing condition
  • personal injury and accidents caused by you
  • the cost of getting you home if you’re injured or become unwell
  • lost, damaged and delayed baggage items
  • cancellations and missed departures.

The most suitable policy for you will vary, depending on your circumstances. For example, you might find a policy that covers all your health and medical worries but doesn’t pay out for expensive baggage items, like skiing equipment.

Often the best way to travel with peace of mind is to build a bespoke insurance policy that suits your needs.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

If you have a serious health condition, the price you pay for travel insurance is likely to be more expensive. However, there are still many providers out there and you should be able to find affordable cover. Whatever happens, don’t be tempted to lie to an insurance provider, because if you do and then need to make a claim, it could be rejected.

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.

What does medical cover include?

The cost of medical treatment abroad or paying for last-minute flights back home if you suddenly fall ill is usually very high, so medical cover should be your number one priority when looking for travel insurance.

Most policies will cover:

  • emergency treatment costs, including hospital charges and ambulance fees
  • returning you home, or repatriation costs, if you can’t use your original ticket
  • reasonable travel and accommodation expenses for a friend or family member to stay with you or travel back with you to the UK
  • a 24-hour helpline for support and advice.

Medical cover varies among insurance providers, so always check what each policy offers.

Will travel insurance cover coronavirus? 

Many providers now offer some cover for COVID-19-related disruption, which could give you financial protection if, for example, you have to change your travel plans because of coronavirus. Just tick the option for ‘COVID-19’ cover when you compare with us.

Can travel insurance cover me for a medical condition I already have?

If you have a pre-existing medical conditiondiabetes, for example – you’ll need to state this when you apply for travel insurance. Depending on the condition, you might need to look for a specialist policy as not all travel insurance providers offer this cover as part of a standard policy.

Does all travel insurance cover repatriation?

Repatriation means bringing you back to your country of origin or the country where you’re a citizen. Most travel insurance policies cover it as standard.

You might need to be repatriated if you fall ill or have a serious accident abroad. Cover limits are often very high as repatriation can be expensive – you might need to be escorted home or taken home in an air ambulance, for example.

Travel insurance might also cover what’s called ‘repatriation of remains’; that is, bringing your body back if you die abroad. Check to see if your policy includes this.

Will travel insurance cover me for sports and other activities?

Standard travel insurance should cover you for low-risk activities on holiday. However, the definition of ‘low-risk’ varies among insurance providers, so it’s best to check policies carefully.

If you plan on taking part in more extreme or risky activities, for example winter sports, you might need to talk to your provider about extending your policy or buy specialist cover from another provider.

Will travel insurance cover me if I have an accident when I’ve been drinking?

Most travel insurance policies will include an alcohol exclusion, which could mean they won’t pay out if you have an accident while you’ve been drinking excessively or even if you have property lost or stolen while under the influence. This doesn’t usually mean you can’t drink at all while you’re away – but check the small print in your policy carefully.

Does travel insurance always cover cancellation?

Travel insurance will usually cover you if your trip is cancelled for reasons beyond your control – illness, for example, or if the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against travel to your destination after you’ve booked your trip.

But travel insurance won’t cover you if you simply decide you don’t want to go on holiday. And it’s unlikely to cover you if you have to cancel because of a pre-existing medical condition.

Are airline strikes covered by travel insurance?

If your flight is delayed or cancelled because of an airline strike, then you can apply to the airline for compensation. Your travel insurance should cover you for other costs, like accommodation and car rental. This may depend on whether you bought your tickets before the strike became public knowledge.

Does travel insurance cover the death of a parent or other family member?

Cancelling a trip because of close family bereavement is often covered by travel insurance. But insurance providers differ in who they consider to be a close family member. And if a parent or family member dies because of a pre-existing condition, you may find that you’re not covered.

How does travel insurance cover my baggage and belongings?

Travel insurance will cover your lost or stolen baggage up to a certain limit. There’s usually a maximum amount you can claim for a single item and a maximum amount you can claim in total for all of your valuables.

If you’re unsure about the limits on your travel insurance, it’s best to check your policy or contact your insurance provider. You might be able to buy a higher level of cover to protect more expensive items.

Your belongings might not be covered if they’re left unattended or kept insecurely.

Will travel insurance cover my passport?

Most policies will cover the costs of replacing a lost or stolen passport.

What legal cover can I get from my travel insurance?

Your travel insurance could provide cover if you accidentally injure someone or damage their property and they decide to sue you. Policies might also help you pursue compensation if you’re injured in an accident.

Your cover could be invalidated if you admit an accident was your fault or offer to pay someone money before talking to your insurance provider.

And you might not be covered if an accident is related to illegal activities or alcohol misuse.

Frequently asked questions

Will my travel insurance cover me for bungee jumping?

Whether you’re covered for bungee jumping or any other risky activity will depend on whether it’s listed in your travel insurance policy.

Make sure you read your policy documents carefully and contact your insurance provider to arrange additional cover, if necessary.

Will travel insurance cover me if my jewellery is stolen?

If you have a valuable piece of jewellery, you’ll need to check that it’s within the single item cover limit of your travel insurance – this is the amount the policy will pay out for a single item. If it’s not, you may be able to increase the level of cover. Alternatively, you could take out specialist insurance.

Am I covered by travel insurance if something is stolen from my car?

Cover for theft is standard in travel insurance policies, so it’s likely that you’ll be covered if something is stolen from your car. But just as you would at home, you need to take care of your possessions while you’re away so as not to invalidate your travel insurance. Make sure your belongings aren’t visible if you leave them in the car, for example. And get a police report or report from the airline if your belongings are lost or stolen. Your travel insurance may require you to do this within a set time, so read your policy carefully.

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