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Travel insurance, also known as holiday insurance, is designed to cover unexpected costs while you're travelling or on holiday.
For instance, if you had an accident on holiday and needed medical treatment, your travel insurer could help cover the cost of your medical bills.
Standard policies usually cover lost luggage, medical care and delayed travel. Cover for things like activities, gadgets and passports are usually available as a policy add-on.
What’s included in your travel insurance policy will vary by provider. Check your policy terms and conditions to be sure.
The best type of travel insurance for you depends on how often you plan to travel, where you’re going and for how long.
Travel insurance isn't a legal requirement, but it could give you peace of mind if you're travelling abroad. Especially if you’re going somewhere that has no free healthcare.
According to National Accident Helpline, treating a broken leg in the USA could cost you £25,550 in medical expenses. Without travel insurance you'd be liable to cover these costs yourself.
Some countries need you to have travel insurance with Covid-19 cover to enter. Check the countries entry requirements before you travel.
Most travel insurance policies cover coronavirus-related emergency medical care and repatriation as standard.
This means if you or a family member become ill with Covid-19 while abroad, the costs of your medical treatment and return travel to the UK are covered.
Some insurers offer further Covid cover. For example, 47% of 952 travel insurance policies will cover cancellation if denied boarding on an outbound journey. And 48% of policies will cover cancellation due to self-isolation.
However, no policy will cover you if you travel against Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advice.
Find out more about travel insurance and coronavirus
You must declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your insurer so it can be factored into their risk assessment. Insurers will either exclude certain medical conditions from cover altogether or include them but at an extra cost.
It can be tricky to find an insurer that will cover more serious medical conditions, but there’s usually specialist cover available.
If you don’t declare your medical condition and make a claim because of it, your insurer can reject the claim. It might also be unwilling to provide you with travel insurance again in the future.
Some travel insurers we compare can give you quotes for policies that cover many serious medical conditions.
For more extreme medical conditions, Money Helper's directory of insurers may be able to provide a quote over the phone.
You can find the directory at the Money Helper website or call the British Insurance Brokers Association on 0370 950 1790.
There are two types of worldwide cover: including America, Canada and the Caribbean, or excluding them. 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 insurance.
If you need travel insurance for a pre-existing medical condition, you need to let the insurer know. Otherwise, they won't cover you for it. If it gets worse while you're away, and you haven't declared it, they won't help you with any medical costs or repatriation.
Family travel insurance covers one to two adults, and up to eight children. They must live with you and be under 18, otherwise you may need a group policy.
Older travellers tend to have existing medical conditions, so travel insurance can cost more. You can still get the right cover at the right price by comparing policies.
Business travel insurance covers risks specific to a business trip – like cover for equipment or stock.
If your child is travelling alone, you can get travel insurance just for them. For example if they’re going on a school trip and you want to make sure they have more cover than the school’s standard policy.
Travel insurance should be included on everyone’s holiday list – no matter where you’re going. If the worst should happen and you need medical care while away, travel insurance will cover your costs. Without it, your bill could run into thousands of pounds. And it’s not just medical costs, travel insurance also covers for eventualities such as cancellations, disruptions, if your holiday is unexpectedly cut short, and if anything happens to your luggage or personal belongings. Going away without it just doesn’t make sense.Ceri McMillan - GoCompare Travel Insurance Expert
You can upgrade your travel insurance policy if you need to. You’ll have to pay extra for any add-ons, so consider whether they’re worth the extra cost.
Some insurers cover adventurous sports as standard. But the riskier an activity the less likely your insurer will be to cover it. You might be able to get more cover for an extra fee.
Planning on jet-skiing or canoeing? Standard policies might not cover particular water sports, but you might be able to add it for an extra fee.
Like with extreme sports, not all insurers offer winter sports cover as standard. You'll probably need this if you plan on skiing or doing any other winter sports.
Similarly to other winter sports, skiing is a high-risk activity. You might need extra cover for ski-specific things like air ambulances and piste closures.
Travel insurance tends to cover the cost to get an emergency travel document if your passport is lost or stolen. But this likely won’t stretch to cover the expense of replacing your passport so think about whether you’d want to add passport cover to your policy.
Cameras, laptops and phones might not be covered by standard travel insurance. Consider whether travel gadget cover could be worthwhile to protect your pricier possessions.
If you're abroad and a natural disaster occurs, you could be injured, have your travel disrupted or need repatriating. Natural disasters aren't usually covered as standard, so you may have to pay extra to get cover for travel disruption.
This can cover things like disruption to your plans and alternative accommodation if a terrorist attack happens.
Golf insurance doesn’t just cover your clubs and equipment in the UK – it can also cover overseas golfing. Things like the traditional round of drinks for the club if you get a hole in one and accidents involving a golf buggy might also be covered.
Try these top tips to get cheaper travel insurance:
If you’re only taking one holiday this year, single-trip travel insurance is usually cheaper. But if you travel more often, annual multi-trip cover could save you money. Compare both to check.
If you’re travelling with friends or family, it might be cheaper to buy group travel insurance. Especially if none of you have pre-existing medical conditions.
There’s no point buying cheap cover that excludes all the activities you’ll be doing on holiday. Make sure you buy a policy tailored to a cruise, backpacking or winter sports, or add cover for other sporting activities as an optional extra.
Don’t add lots of optional extras that you don’t really need. For example, instead of adding gadget cover, could you leave your expensive electronics at home instead?
Travel insurance is sometimes included with packaged bank accounts or credit cards. So, if you’re already covered, don’t waste money buying another policy you don’t need.
Offered travel insurance by your tour operator or travel agent? You could probably get a better deal by comparing quotes online instead. Only 15% of Britons said they’d switch their travel insurance, meaning they may be losing out on savings.
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.
Find out more about UK travel insurance.
Yes, you can get last-minute travel insurance. But it won’t include cancellation cover and you'll need to find a specialist insurer covering post-departure insurance.
The excess is what you must pay towards each claim you make.
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 only pay out £925.
Document any evidence of the incident if it’s safe to do so and get in touch with your insurer to make a claim (or get someone else to do it for you).
Some travel insurers will allow you to extend your policy so get in touch to ask.
Medical screening involves answering some questions about your health. Insurers need to know what medical conditions you have, if any, so this can be factored into your quote.
As soon as you book your trip, so you can benefit from its cancellation cover straight away.
A reciprocal health agreement means that you get free or reduced emergency healthcare in places the UK has the agreement with. You’ll need to have your Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) with you to prove you’re entitled to it.
Yes, but it depends on your insurer’s definition of ‘bad weather’ so you’d need to check the terms.
Yes – your insurer will either simply exclude that condition from the cover or charge a little extra to cover it.
You can get travel insurance if you’re pregnant. Insurers don’t class pregnancy as a medical condition, so you likely won’t have to mention it when you take out cover and it won’t affect the cost of your policy. But you might only be covered for pregnancy related conditions up to a certain stage, typically 26 weeks.
If you’re studying abroad for long periods of time, you might need to look at backpackers' insurance. You just need to make sure the policy covers studying abroad before you buy it.
You can get a 25% refund on the ticket price for the part of your trip that was affected refunded if you're delayed for at least:
If the delay time doubles, then you should get 50% refunded.
For cancelled ferry trips, you should be offered either an alternative sailing or a refund on the ticket price.
If you don't get a response from the ferry company or they can't to resolve your complaint, you can contact ABTA, the official complaint handling body.
Read more on how to claim for ferry cancellations or delays.
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Page last reviewed: 27 September 2022
Next review due: 28 November 2022
As of August 2022, there are 43 active travel insurers on the panel at theidol.com
National Accident Helpline. How much will you be out of pocket if you break a bone?. Retrieved August 2022.
We checked Defaqto 18 August 2022 and found that 47% of 952 annual travel insurance policies will cover cancellation if denied boarding due to Covid-19 on an outbound journey, and 48% policies will cover cancellation due to self isolation.
YouGov. Which insurance policies are Britons most likely to switch?. Retrieved August 2022.