What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance could cover medical expenses, trip cancellation or delays, lost or stolen baggage and personal liability while you’re travelling. The type of cover you need will depend on the countries you’re visiting, the activities you’ll be doing and the length of your trip. You’ll also need to state whether you want travel insurance for a single trip, multiple trips or for backpacking.
Why do I need travel insurance?
While we all love to get away from it all, accidents do happen - as well as medical bills, travel insurance covers, delays, lost items and thefts. All these can prove costly if you’re not properly insured.
Almost 1 in 4 people don’t take out travel insurance for their holidays. However, they probably should have, when you consider that travel insurance providers paid out £370m in 591,000 claims last year, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
To give you some idea of the potential costs without insurance for emergency medical care, the ABI has examples of what has been paid in 2017 for claims that you’d have to pay if you had no insurance:
- £768,000 was paid to cover the medical costs of treating a traveller who suffered a stroke in the USA.
- This includes £60,000 for an air ambulance back to the UK.
- £125,000 to pay for surgery following a jet-ski accident while holidaying in Turkey.
- £136,000 for treating complications following an insect bite in Chile. This included paying for a nurse to escort the traveller home.
So, whether you’re taking the family to the beach, a student on your gap year taking the trip of a lifetime or simply making the most of your retirement, there’s sure to be a policy to keep you covered.
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.
Frequently asked questions
How much does travel insurance cost?
While the average annual travel insurance policy costs as little as £37 - the average medical claim is £1,300 and £816 for the average cancellation claim, according to the ABI.
What type of travel insurance is right for me?
Picking the right travel insurance policy depends on a few things.
The most common types of policy are:
- Single trip: This insurance will cover you for one short trip.
- Annual multi-trip: If you’re taking more than one trip a year, then a multi-trip policy will likely be the most cost-effective. There may be a limit on the total number of days abroad you’re covered for.
- Worldwide: Generally, travel insurance for trips within Europe are cheaper. This is largely because medical costs in countries outside the EU can be much higher.
- Winter sports: You’ll need this for skiing, snowboarding or other winter activities that are generally a bit more dangerous and might require special provisions. They can also involve expensive specialist equipment, which this policy should cover.
- Cruise: Covers the specific risks and activities associated with this type of holiday.
- Couples: This is for two adults, who live at the same address and are in a relationship.
- Family: This covers members of a family in one simple policy. Some insurance providers will also offer free cover to anyone under 18 in the family.
- Group: This could suit you if you’re travelling with up to 10 friends or family members, if you’re all travelling from the same country.
- Business travel: If you’re travelling for work, then business travel is tailored for your needs.
You can also find specialist insurance for:
What should I consider before choosing a policy?
You’ll want to pick a policy with the right level of cover and inclusions for you.
For example, comprehensive policies will typically cover you for the following:
Most annual and single policies cover you for between 90 and 180 days, so you should check the details if you’re planning a long break away. If you are away for longer than this, you may need a long-stay policy.
You should also be able to add extras to your policy for anything which isn’t included as standard – for example:
Can I still get travel insurance if I've got a medical condition?
Yes, you can still get travel insurance even if you have a medical condition, although you might need to look for a specialist provider. That’s because having certain health issues could mean that you’re more likely to need medical treatment while you’re on holiday. Unlike in the UK, you’ll be expected to pay for any care you receive and even common procedures can cost thousands of pounds.
Where can I compare travel insurance quotes quickly and easily?
We provide impartial and independent comparison from a range of UK travel insurance providers. Before you start, keep any dates of your planned trip to hand and know how much any valuables you take with you might be worth to make sure you get the right level of cover. With great value deals on single, direct and annual holiday insurance, we could find you a cheap price in minutes.
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