Accidents happen, no matter where you are in the world. Travel insurance covers medical treatment or emergencies, as well as loss of possessions.
Getting ill or injured abroad can be more complicated and expensive than when you’re in the UK. Taking out travel insurance can give you peace of mind should the unexpected happen.
The main benefit is emergency medical cover, which can be very expensive.
Despite the benefits, one in five people say they’ve travelled overseas in the last year without travel insurance, meaning they could’ve been stuck with a large bill if something went wrong.
Travel insurers help one person every three minutes with emergency medical treatment abroad, so it’s important to make sure you get the right cover – just in case.
Where you go, and what you do on your trip, makes a difference to the cover you need.
Policies vary and without the right insurance, you could find yourself out of pocket.
Covers you for one destination, and usually, for up to 30 days. You can choose from worldwide or European cover, depending on where you're going.
You can bolt-on cover for activities too, things like skiing.
Insures you for multiple trips over the year. If you travel regularly, it can work out cheaper.
But if you're only doing a couple of trips, it doesn't always. Compare your options to see which'll be better value for money.
There are two types: including and excluding America, Canada and the Carribean.
If you’re not travelling to these destinations, exclude them from your cover. Medical care is expensive in these places, so it’ll push up the price of your cover.
You'll need this extra cover if you plan on skiing or doing any other winter sports.
You'll have to pay extra, depending on what you've got planned, to get the right level of cover.
Cover for the whole family, or a group of friends, under one policy.
It usually works out cheaper - unless someone has a pre-existing medical condition that needs declaring.
Tailored for cruises, you'll be covered for issues you won't experience on dry land - things like cabin confinement and missed boats.
It's harder, but not impossible, to get affordable cover when you're older.
Some insurers put age limits on their policies, so you'll need to shop around to find good value for money.
If you have a pre-existing condition, you need to let the insurer know. Otherwise, they won't cover you for it.
If it get's worse while you're away, and you haven't declared it, they won't help you with any medical costs or repatriation.
For visits to the doctor or hospital when you’re abroad
If you need to be brought back to the UK because of injury or for further treatment
If your holiday is cancelled, cut short or delayed you could reclaim any costs
Cover for your luggage and belongings
In case you accidentally injure someone or damage their property
Unless you declare them. You might need specialist insurance and should check with your insurer first
Like adventurous sports, climbing Kilimanjaro or winter sports
If you travel to a country that the government suggests you avoid
You can't claim for alcohol or drug-related incidents
Acts of terrorism aren’t a standard part of most policies
You might have to pay extra to get cover for travel disruption
In 2018, travel insurers paid out £399 million to UK globetrotters
Association of British Insurers (ABI), 19 August 2019
A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to receive state healthcare within the European Economic Area (EEA) for free or at a reduced rate.
It’s not a like-for-like substitute for travel insurance though. The EHIC won’t cover things like medical repatriation, non-urgent treatment, or any non-medical features like lost/stolen property. You also can’t use it on cruises.
You won't need the medical aspect, because we've got the NHS. But, it’s a good idea to have some cover if you’re having a staycation.
Missed transport and cancellation cover is useful if you’re taking an internal flight. Gadget cover can be worthwhile too, if you’re travelling in the UK with expensive smart devices.
Here are a few ways to keep your travel insurance premiums down:
A multi-trip policy could work out cheaper if you’re a regular traveller
You could already have insurance with your bank or credit card
Put the whole family on one policy to get a cheaper rate
But keep it affordable, incase you need to claim
Don’t choose an annual worldwide option if you think you’ll only travel in Europe
Check if these are already covered by your home or gadget insurance
Make sure you’re not already paying for travel insurance extras as part of your package
It can give you access to free, or reduced cost, medical treatment in EU countries
Get a few quotes to find a great price
Most policies will cover some of the costs of getting emergency travel documents. But, the cost of replacing your passport when you get back to the UK usually won’t be covered.
It's where you've got two insurance policies that cross over. For example, you could already have travel insurance through your bank account or credit card. This bolt-on cover tends to have lower levels of cover though, so they might not be best suited to you. Check the terms and conditions to see exactly what’s covered.
If you have existing cover, taking out a stand-alone policy on top can make claims processes complicated. The two insurance providers will have to decide between themselves whether to split the excess and claim amount, or if they expect the other to cover it.
The average cost of single-trip travel insurance policies was £15.65 for those without medical conditions in 2018. For those with medical conditions, the average cost was higher, at £40.31.
For annual multi-trip cover, the average cost for travellers without medical conditions was £39.72 and £92.90 for people with medical conditions
The excess is what you have to pay towards a claim.
For example, if you make a claim for £1,000 and your excess is £75, the excess amount is deducted from your claim, so your insurer would end up paying you the remaining £925.
As soon as possible, so you can benefit from its cancellation cover straight away.
Yes, you can get last-minute travel insurance. But it won’t include cancellation cover, as you’re already on your holiday.
ABTA travel insurance survey, May 2019
Association of British Insurers (ABI), 19 August 2019
Average single trip policy price for policies purchased through theidol.com from January to December 2018: £15.65 (ST NON-MED) and £40.31 (ST MED)
Average annual multi-trip policy price for policies purchased through theidol.com from January to December 2018: £39.72 (NON-MED) and £92.90 (MED)
Page last reviewed: 16 November 2020
Next review due: 18 January 2021