Guide to travel insurance for winter holidaymakers
- If you're travelling in winter you may want to consider paying extra attention to levels of travel delay cover
- Should you plan on taking part in any winter sports you'll need to specify you need that cover and, almost certainly, pay extra for it
- Christmas shoppers should be aware of levels of baggage cover to protect holiday purchases
- If you're escaping the cold for an extended period you may need long-stay cover and to pay attention to your home insurance in the UK
Not all winter holidays have to be about skiing.
Plenty of people head off to snowy realms to enjoy the brisk weather, sparkling views and festive vibes.
Others are winter sun worshippers; travellers who abandon icy Britain in favour of warmer climates.
Still more jet off overseas to visit loved ones in far-flung lands, particularly around Christmas time.
But, wherever you're heading, winter travel has some specific risks and it's important to find the right travel insurance before you go.
Medical expenses, cancellation and personal baggage cover are included as standard features on all policies you'll find through Gocompare.com, and you'll also have access to information from independent financial researcher Defaqto to help ensure you have the protection you need.
Weather delays and disruption
One of the biggest risks, of course, is the good old British weather causing your flight to be delayed, or even abandoned.
If a flight is cancelled, you should be offered a refund or alternative flight.
However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't also buy an insurance policy.
After all, the airline is very unlikely to repay you for your cancelled hotel arrangements or for any holiday activities you miss, and this is where travel disruption cover can come in handy.
This can also help if the bad weather causes you to miss your flight because the country's road or rail networks grind to a halt, or even in the event of a breakdown.
Some policies will reimburse you if you miss your flight due to the bad weather, so long as you can prove that you took reasonable steps to get there on time.
Flight delay compensation
There have been numerous occasions where snow and ice brought Britain's airports to a standstill, but there are rules and regulations in place that can help compensate you.
Flight delay compensation will vary depending on factors such as where you're travelling to and the length of your delay.
If there's an overnight delay, you should be offered free hotel accommodation. You may have to pay for this yourself and then submit receipts to the airline.
Winter sports cover
If you're taking part in any particularly adventurous winter activities and sports, such as skiing, you'll need to buy extra insurance. Winter sports cover isn't included as standard on most insurance policies, so don't risk hitting the slopes without valid cover.
If you search through Gocompare.com, you'll see that you can choose to only see policies that offer winter sports cover. Remember, though, that cover levels on each one of these policies will vary significantly, so check the details to ensure you have the protection you need.
Travel insurance cover may be set at a maximum of, perhaps, 30 days, and many home insurance policies are invalid if a property is left empty for 30 days or more
Even if you're not taking part in any particularly dangerous sport, it's a good idea to check your insurer is happy with any unusual activities.
For example, if you're planning to be dragged on a sledge by huskies, or to go tobogganing, these activities may well not be covered by a standard policy.
Read the small print carefully so that you understand any exclusions.
Don't assume that an activity is insured because your last policy included it; insurers can really vary in what risks they're willing to accept.
For more detailed information on the things to consider, read our guide to ski and winter sports insurance.
Cover for Christmas shopping trips
If you're such a traveller, make sure your insurance includes enough cover for your purchases.
If you travel home without sufficient insurance then lost or damaged baggage could ruin Christmas.
Even when you've bought insurance, it's a good idea to be careful.
Carry your receipts separately to your luggage so that you can prove your claim to an insurer, if need be.
Extended winter trips
For footloose retirees and the other fortunate carefree, the temptation to head for the sun at the first sign of November and stay there until March must be strong.
If you're away for a long period then check your policy carefully for time limits. Cover may be set at a maximum of, perhaps, 30 days, but note that there are long-stay insurance options.
Also, don't forget to check your home insurance. Many policies are invalid if a property is left empty for 30 or more days, so you may need to arrange a house sitter or a specialist policy such as unoccupied property insurance.
Be aware that if you're an older traveller then you're statistically more likely to make a claim, even if you play squash twice a week and are fitter than most 30-year-olds.
That means that your cover can be more expensive, especially if you have any medical conditions to declare.
However, it's simply not worth the risk of going without, especially if you're heading abroad for a lengthy period.
Some insurers simply refuse to provide cover for anyone aged over 65, while others charge an eye-watering amount.
However, specialist firms still provide travel insurance policies for older travellers, so make sure you compare premiums to find a good price.
How to cut the cost of travel insurance
The easiest way to find the best price on your cover is to compare travel insurance providers. You can't know if a premium is a good deal until you've seen what other insurers are offering.
Of course, with any insurance policy the important thing is to find the right cover rather than the cheapest. Make sure the cover provided is right for your holiday and that the excess is an amount you can afford.
If you buy cover from your package holiday operator without comparing the rest of the market first you risk overpaying.
If you're a regular globe trotter then you could save money by buying an annual travel insurance policy rather than short-term cover each trip.
Make sure it provides enough cover for all your planned breaks so that you're not left accidentally under-insured.
When that annual policy comes to an end, don't be tempted to let it auto-renew. That can leave you paying far more than necessary, when a quick comparison of travel insurers could save you a fortune.
By Felicity Hannah