Worldwide travel insurance

Going on a holiday outside of Europe? Worldwide travel insurance can give you peace of mind when it comes to your travel plans.

What is worldwide travel insurance?

Whether you’re road tripping through the USA, going on safari in Africa or enjoying a well-earned break on a Caribbean beach, worldwide travel insurance can give you the much-needed cover you require.

It covers you for unexpected events that could otherwise leave you out of pocket. Things like cancellation, medical expenses and theft of your belongings.

Worldwide policies cover pretty much every destination on the globe, and you can take out single trip or annual cover.

worldwide travel insurance

What countries does worldwide travel insurance cover?

Worldwide travel insurance covers you for trips to almost everywhere in the world:

  • Europe
  • Asia
  • North and South America
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Africa
  • Antarctica

In general, worldwide policies fall into two categories:

  • Those that include the USA, Canada and the Caribbean
  • Those that exclude the USA, Canada and the Caribbean

Healthcare in these countries is usually more expensive than elsewhere in the world, so policies that include the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean will cost more.

Be sure to check that the policy you buy covers all the countries you’ll be visiting on your trip or trips.

What does worldwide travel insurance cover?

As with all types of travel insurance, worldwide cover can protect you in multiple ways. It could include:

Medical cover

If you’re unfortunate enough to fall ill, including getting COVID-19, or if you’re involved in an accident your travel insurance can cover the cost of emergency and ongoing medical treatment. The cost of receiving treatment overseas - especially in countries like the USA - can be expensive and run into tens of thousands of pounds if you’re hospitalised

Repatriation

Worldwide travel insurance can pay for the cost of transporting you back to the UK if your return travel plans are affected by illness or an accident abroad

Lost luggage and belongings

If your holiday luggage, or belongings like your passport and travel tickets are lost, stolen or delayed, baggage cover can help you recoup the cost of replacement items

Cancellation and curtailment

If you have to cancel or cut short your trip, due to something like an illness (including Covid-19), an injury, bereavement, or if it’s no longer safe to travel to a particular destination, then travel insurance may compensate you for some or all of your travel expenses

Travel disruption

If your trip is interrupted or disrupted by something outside of your control like industrial action or if the travel company goes bust, then travel disruption insurance as part of your worldwide cover can help pay for unforeseen costs and reimburse you for the parts of the trip you can’t use, like flights and accommodation

What’s not covered?

Check your policy to see how it deals with cancellations, disruptions, emergencies or cutting short a trip due to Covid-19.

Most policies now cover emergency treatment if you catch Covid-19 when you’re away, plus cancellation cover if you can’t travel due to testing positive for Covid-19.

But it won’t pay out if you decide to cancel your trip because you don’t want to risk catching Covid-19, even if it’s still possible to travel to your chosen destination.

The most comprehensive Covid-19 cover will cover cancellation if you can’t travel because the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) changes its advice for your destination or because of local lockdown restrictions in the UK. But only a small handful of policies offer this type of cover.

Are there exclusions for worldwide travel insurance?

Worldwide travel insurance policies differ, so check carefully what yours covers.

Typical exclusions include:

  1. Travelling outside of FCDO guidelines

    If you travel to a destination against FCDO advice, your policy will be invalid

  2. Alcohol and non-prescription drugs

    You probably won’t be covered for accidents that happen when you’re under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs that impair your judgement or physical ability

  3. Illegal or malicious activity

    You can’t make a claim if it’s the result of taking part in anything that goes against local laws

  4. Undeclared medical conditions

    You must tell your insurer if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, otherwise any medical treatment you need might not be covered

  5. Not getting vaccinated for a preventable tropical disease

    If you fall ill from a tropical disease without the recommended inoculations or medication, any claims can be rejected

  6. Taking part in extreme sports and activities

    Trying your hand at something like bungee jumping, canyoning, shark diving or any other hazardous activity on your worldwide trip probably won’t be covered by a standard travel insurance policy. You’ll need to take out extra cover for these kinds of risky sports

  7. Natural disasters

    Some insurers don’t accept claims that are the result of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes or tsunamis

  8. Changing your mind about taking the trip

    In insurance terms, this is called disinclination to travel. Insurers won’t pay out if you simply decide you no longer want to go on your trip

When should I buy worldwide travel insurance?

It’s best to buy your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday.

That way, if anything unexpected happens before your departure which means you can’t travel - such as if you or a family member suffer an illness, injury or if there’s a bereavement - you may be able to claim for costs. Check the wording on your policy carefully.

Do you need single trip or annual cover?

It depends on how many trips you’re planning to do in a year.

Single trip cover

If you intend to take just one trip in the next 12 months, a single trip policy will be your best option. It begins from the day you travel and ends when you arrive home.

You can travel to multiple destinations on a single trip travel insurance policy, as long as the full trip doesn’t last longer than the time period stipulated in the policy.

Annual travel insurance

Sometimes called a multi-trip insurance policy, annual travel insurance could be your best option if you’re going on two or more trips in one year or are a regular traveler. If you also take a few staycations a year, then most worldwide annual travel policies will also cover these as standard.

There’s usually no cap on the number of trips you can take in one year, but there’ll be a limit on the duration of each trip. And there may be a limit on the total number of days you can be away in the year.

What if I'm taking a gap year?

Backpacker insurance - sometimes called gap-year or long-stay insurance - is designed for people travelling for long periods, often visiting various countries on their trip.

Policies typically last anything from a few months to a year, 18 months or even two years.

As well as the usual benefits of travel insurance, backpacker policies can also cover you to do some types of work and even volunteering on your trip.

Your worldwide trip to-do list:

Here are some things you might like to consider before taking your trip:

Follow FCDO advice

The FCDO can provide you with up-to-date information on Covid-19, safety and security, entry requirements and travel warnings for the country or countries you’ll be staying in or travelling through

Get visas well in advance

Allow plenty of time to obtain a visa if it’s required for your destination

Book vaccinations

Depending on where you’re travelling you may need to be vaccinated against serious diseases like yellow fever or typhoid. Aim to get your vaccinations at least eight weeks before your departure - some vaccinations require multiple doses spread out over several weeks.

You can find out what vaccinations are needed for the country or countries you’re heading to on the NHS Fit for Travel website.

Learn about the culture

Make yourself aware of local customs so that you can avoid causing offence - things like wearing appropriate clothing and removing shoes before entering a place of worship

What if I have pre-existing medical conditions?

Some insurers may refuse to provide cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition such as a neurodegenerative disorder, like Parkinson’s Disease. But there are plenty of insurers that will cover you, though premiums will probably be more expensive.

You’ll need to declare any pre-existing conditions to your insurer, because they’ll be unlikely to pay out for medical expenses, or for cancelling or cutting short a trip because of something related to your medical condition if you haven’t informed them.

For people with a serious medical condition who can’t find cover, the government’s MoneyHelper service has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to give you a quote.

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