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Travel insurance policy types explained

Travel insurance can make sure you’re protected against the unexpected. Learn about the different policies available and how to find the right one to suit your needs.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 22 March 2022  | 3 mins read

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance isn’t compulsory, but it can mean you won’t be left out of pocket if something unexpected happens to affect your trip.

It can cover you for everything from cancellations and delays to lost luggage and emergency medical treatment.

Without travel insurance, the costs of these could soon mount up. But with cover in place, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’re protected if things don’t go to plan.

Key points

  • Travel insurance can give you peace of mind that you’ll be protected if things don’t go to plan
  • It can help cover the costs of cancellation and disruption as well as any emergency medical treatment
  • There are several types of policy to choose from that suit different types of travellers or holiday
  • A multi-trip policy could save you money if you’ll be going on two or more trips a year

What does travel insurance usually cover?

Travel insurance is designed to provide financial protection for you and your belongings, and most standard policies include cover for:

  • Emergency medical treatment, up to £5 million
  • Covid-19 cover - the level of this cover varies between providers
  • Cancellation, cutting your trip short (curtailment) and missed departures
  • Personal belongings and money up to £1,500
  • Lost, damaged and delayed baggage
  • Personal liability cover if you accidentally injure another person or damage their property

What types of travel insurance policy are available?

You'll find a whole range of different policies and extras to choose from to help you get the right cover for your needs.

The type of travel insurance you need will depend on who you’re travelling with, how often you’ll be travelling in the next 12 months and the destination you’re heading to.

You’ll also need to consider any activities you’re planning to do on your trip - you may need to take out extra or specialist cover to get the protection you need.

The types of cover you can choose from include:

Single-trip cover

This single-trip travel insurance policy provides you with travel insurance for taking one trip in the next 12 months and will often only cover you for a limited number of days.

You can buy this policy for yourself, as a couple, or to cover your family and you can take it out as European or worldwide cover.

Annual or multi-trip cover

If you’re planning two or more trips in the next 12 months, an annual travel insurance policy may be better value than buying single-trip cover each time you travel - so it’s worth comparing prices.

The number of trips you’ll be covered for will vary between insurers, but some will let you have unlimited travel - though the length of a single trip may be limited up to a maximum of 90 days.

Pre-existing medical conditions

When you take out travel insurance, you’ll need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions you have - if you don’t tell your insurer this could invalidate your policy.

To be covered you’ll usually need to pay extra or buy a specialist policy for travellers with health conditions. You can also get help from the British Insurance Brokers’ Association or the government’s MoneyHelper service.

Worldwide travel insurance

If you’re travelling beyond Europe, you’ll need worldwide travel insurance cover. This typically costs more because the medical costs outside Europe will be higher.

Insurers usually have two types of worldwide policy, one that includes the USA, Canada and the Caribbean and one that excludes these. The second option is usually cheaper.

European travel insurance

For trips closer to home and exploring Europe, you’ll need European travel insurance policy. But check which countries are listed under European cover, as there are variations between providers.

For example, some include Tunisia and Turkey, while others will only cover these countries under worldwide insurance. You can take out European cover as a single or multi-trip policy.

Winter sports travel insurance

If you’re hitting the slopes, typical snow-related activities like skiing and snowboarding won’t be covered under a standard travel insurance policy.

Instead, you’ll need to take out winter sports travel insurance cover to protect you against unexpected events like accidents or injury, lost, stolen or damaged equipment, or if there’s a piste closure.

Backpacker travel insurance

Your backpacking adventure and the activities you might enjoy on your travels are unlikely to be covered by regular travel insurance.

Backpacker travel insurance will cover you for visiting multiple countries, travelling for between two and 18 months and participating in a wider range of activities than a standard policy.

Travel insurance for adventure sports

Standard travel insurance won’t cover more risky sports and activities where there’s a higher chance of accident or injury, so you’ll need to check to see what’s covered.

For activities like scuba-diving or rock climbing, you’ll need to take out adventure sports travel insurance cover to make sure you’re protected on your trip.

Family travel insurance

If you’re travelling as a family, it can be cheaper to take out insurance that covers you all rather than buying individual policies for each person.

Family travel insurance policies can cover up to two adults and eight children under 18 who live with you. It can help pay for unexpected medical costs, as well as lost luggage and cancellations.

Group travel insurance

Similarly, if you’re travelling in a group, it can be more cost effective to have one policy that covers everyone.

Group travel insurance policy can cover up to ten of you, travelling from the same country to the same destination. But if anyone has a pre-existing medical condition this will bump up the price.

Senior or Over 65s travel insurance

It’s more expensive to take out travel insurance if you’re over 65, but the good news is that these policies usually come with added benefits like enhanced cover for medical treatment.

There are often limits on the length of trip you can be covered for, and certain activities may not be permitted - so it’s a good idea to check the senior travel insurance policy details.

How do I get a quote for travel insurance?

It’s always best to shop around and compare policies to find the best cover for your needs and it’s really simple to get a quote:

  1. Type of cover

    Whether it’s single-trip, annual or long-stay cover

  2. Who you want to insure

    Are you travelling alone or with others?

  3. Additional cover

    Will you be doing extreme winter sports activities?

  4. Your details

    Your name, age, and address

  5. Your medical history

    Whether you have any pre-existing medical conditions