Do you need travel insurance?

If you fall ill or have an accident while travelling the bills can be huge, so it pays to have cover in place. Here are the basics to help you find the right travel insurance policy.

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Travel insurance isn’t a legal requirement, but it’s always a good idea. Having the right cover protects you against sickness or injury, as well as the risk of lost bags, cancelled flights or other emergencies. Different types of holidays may need different cover in place, and the limits you need will depend on your personal circumstances and the type of trips you take. 

There are other important considerations such as winter or extreme sports cover and whether to get an annual or single trip policy. Here we explain everything you need to know.

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.

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What does travel insurance cover?

Your travel policy 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 a crime while you are away.

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

Medical expenses

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

  • The 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 UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for extra cover.

How much cover do you need? 

You should look for at least £2 million in medical expenses cover, but many policies will offer up to £10 million.

Cancellation or cutting your trip short

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.

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 a trip.

Personal belongings and baggage

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

There will be a cover limit for each 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. Think about the expensive gear you might want to take abroad, such as laptops, cameras and phones. Make sure your single item limit is high enough to cover your most expensive item, or you could find yourself out of pocket

  • 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. Check to make sure the total claim limit covers all your baggage otherwise if your suitcase vanishes you might only get half the value back

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.

Delays

Your travel insurance cover should payout 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

How much cover do you need? 

This is to cover extra expenses. You can usually get £40 for the first 12 hours and then £20 for every 12-hour period thereafter, up to a limit of between £200 and £400.

Personal injury

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

How much cover do you need? 

Most policies will offer cover between £15,000 and £25,000 for injury. The cover for death will usually be around £5,000 but may be lower if you are over 65.

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, such as 25 miles away

  • Your trip must last a minimum length of time, for example, two nights

You cannot claim for medical expenses if 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 how you would claim for each type of cover, including any exclusions you might face.

Comparing travel insurance deals is the simple and easy way to get the best possible cover when you go away.

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.

Should you get single trip or annual travel insurance?

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.

Can you get travel insurance for extreme sports?

Compare winter sports insurance

Backpacker travel insurance

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 of 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 if you add extra locations during your trip.

Compare backpacker travel insurance

Family travel insurance

If you are travelling with a partner and children, you could save money with a group 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:

  • The total 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 compare 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.

Compare travel insurance here

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

These eight ways to cut the cost of your cover can help you get the best deal

If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get a quote through Money.co.uk. These conditions could include cancer, stroke, serious heart, respiratory and terminal conditions.
Some insurers might not cover you if you already have a serious medical condition, or if you have a number of conditions. Others might only offer insurance at a much higher price. If you're unable to find suitable cover, the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) has also set up a directory of insurers willing to cover customers with pre-existing medical conditions.
You can contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) or you can telephone 0800 138 7777.

Make sure you get the best possible cover when you go away by comparing travel insurance deals. You can find the cover you need at the right price whatever your travel plans.