What does travel insurance do?

Travel insurance gives you financial protection in case something goes wrong while you are away.

It is essential whether you are going on holiday, a business trip or travelling for any other reason.

What does it cover?

It can cover you if you fall seriously ill or are injured, if your holiday is cancelled or cut short, or if you are a victim of crime while you are away.

Your travel insurance policy can pay out a lump sum up to a set amount to cover costs like medical expenses, repatriation or stolen and lost items.

Medical expenses

How much cover do you need? You should look for at least 2 million of medical expenses cover, but many policies will offer up to 10 million.

If you fall ill or suffer an injury while on holiday your travel insurance policy can cover your medical bills.

Medical expenses cover should include:

  • Emergency medical costs, like surgical and hospital treatment or any ambulance costs you are charged.

  • Cost of getting home in an emergency, or if your medical treatment means you cannot use your return ticket. This is called repatriation.

  • Accommodation and travel for a close relative or friend to stay with you if you cannot return when planned. This will only apply if it is deemed necessary by medical advice.

  • Emergency dental treatment for the immediate relief of pain only.

If you are travelling to Europe make sure you get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for extra cover.

Cancellation or cutting your trip short

How much cover do you need? Look for a policy that will cover the cost of your holiday. Some will offer as much 10,000.

If an emergency means you need to cancel your holiday you may be able to claim back the cost of your trip from your travel insurance policy.

This guide explains what is covered by cancellation cover and what you need to do to make a claim.

Personal belongings and baggage

How much cover do you need? Most policies will offer total cover up to 2,000 and single item cover limits are usually around 250 but you can find much higher, so make sure it is enough to protect your possessions.

This covers the accidental loss, theft or damage of your personal possessions, including your baggage.

There will be a cover limit for each single item, and a total claim limit.

  • Single limit: This is how much you can claim for a single item, like a pair of sunglasses or a camera. For example if you tried to claim for an item worth 400 but your single limit cover was 300 you would not get all of the money back.

  • Total claim limit: This is the maximum amount you can claim for multiple single limit items; for example, if your cover limit was 2,000 and you had multiple items stolen, you could only claim up to a combined amount of 2,000.

Delays

How much cover do you need? This is to cover extra expenses and you can get 40 for the first 12 hours and then 20 for every 12 hour period after up to a limit of between 200 and 400.

Your travel insurance cover should pay out if your flights are delayed for more than 12 hours. Most policies will cover delays caused by:

  • Strike or industrial action

  • Poor weather conditions, like thunderstorms

  • Mechanical breakdown

Personal injury

How much cover do you need? Most policies will offer cover between 15,000 and 25,000. The cover for death will be around 5,000, but can be lower if you are over 65.

If you suffer an injury abroad that leads to a permanent disability you can claim for compensation.

Your insurer should pay out for:

  • A disability that stops you from working

  • The permanent loss of limb

  • Loss of sight in one or both eyes

  • Death

You will usually be covered if the accident results in you becoming disabled within 12 months or two years, depending on the policy.

UK holidays

You will be covered for things like cancellation and lost or stolen possessions. However, most insurers set restrictions for UK trips, such as:

  • You can only claim if your holiday is a certain distance from home, e.g. 25 miles away

  • Your trip must last a minimum length of time, e.g. two nights

You cannot claim for medical expenses because you are eligible for free NHS healthcare.

What else is covered?

  • Missed departure: This covers any extra accommodation and travel costs if you miss your flights due to unforeseen circumstances; for example, if your car breaks down. Most policies offer around 500 of cover.

  • Personal liability: Most policies will offer you at least 2 million of personal liability to cover the cost of any damages you have to pay if you accidentally injure someone, or lose or damage someone's property.

  • Lost passport: This covers any additional accommodation and travel costs you have to pay to replace a lost or stolen passport. You can get cover of between 250 and 500.

Here is a how you would claim for each type of cover, including any exclusions you might face.

What types of travel insurance are there?

Single trip and annual travel insurance

  • Single trip cover will cover you for one trip to a specific location for a set time frame

  • Annual cover will cover you to travel as many times as you like for a 12 month period

Here is a more detailed look at what single trip and annual policies offer, and which is right for you.

Winter and extreme sports cover

If you are planning an action packed holiday, make sure the activities you want to try are covered. If they are not, you might not be able to claim if you suffer an injury while taking part.

Here is which extreme activities you need to add to your policy and how to make sure you are covered.

Backpacker travel insurance

Did you know?

This type of insurance is also known as:

  • Gap year travel insurance

  • Long stay travel insurance

This is a specialist type of travel insurance that can offer cover for trips up to 18 months, which is much longer than single trip or annual policies.

You can also get cover for several countries under the same policy so you will not have to update your policy or get new cover during your trip.

Family travel insurance

If you are travelling with a partner and children you could save money with a group family policy.

Most family policies will cover two adults and up to four children, but some will cover more.

Family cover could give you higher levels of cover for things like cancellation and lost baggage compared to sole policies, but there could be restrictions, such as:

  • Number of children covered

  • Whether they can cover single parent families

  • Whether all family members have to live at the same address

Some providers offer free cover for children, but you should still get individual quotes and comparing the cost.

You can also save with a couple's policy if you are both over 18 years old and living at the same address.

What affects the price?

The cost of your travel insurance will be influenced by:

  • Your age: As you get older, especially when you reach your 60s, the cost of travel insurance will go up - this guide explains how to find affordable cover as an older traveller.

  • Your health: If you have any existing medical conditions you will be more likely to fall ill on holiday and make an expensive medical expenses claim, which pushes your price up.

  • Your destination: If you are travelling to a dangerous region (an area of civil unrest for example), or somewhere that has expensive healthcare, it will also increase the price you pay.

  • Length of your trip: The longer you are away, the more expensive your cover will be.

  • Extra cover: Upgrading your cover limits and adding extra cover like extreme or winter sports will make your cover more expensive.

Travel insurance FAQs

Q

Do you need travel insurance in Europe if you have a EHIC?

A

Yes, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) only gives you access to state-provided healthcare when in European Economic Area (EEA) countries.

Q

Where can you travel to?

A

Most countries, but some may not be covered if they are deemed dangerous by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Q

Do you need travel insurance if you travel in the UK?

A

No - you will not need medical cover as you will be covered by the NHS, but it can still cover cancellation and lost or stolen possessions.