You’ve packed your passport, the airline tickets, your sun cream and a few good books for the beach. But have you remembered to sort out your travel insurance?
As with all financial protection, travel insurance can seem a waste of money if you have the good fortune of never needing to claim. But while it is not like motor insurance in that it is not a legal requirement, it is foolish to go on holiday without it.
You might take the view that you can risk losing your luggage or missing a connecting flight. Although it’ll be a nuisance and it will leave you out of pocket, such problems are usually not insurmountable.
But what if you need emergency medical treatment? How will you get back if you break your leg thousands of miles from home? Who will foot the bill if you need to spend three months in a foreign hospital?
Similarly, who will cover your legal bills should your hire car be involved in an accident and you are sued?
It is for these unlikely but serious scenarios that travel insurance is worth its weight in gold – although make sure you know exactly what you are covered for.
Caroline Lloyd, of Gocompare.com, said:
“One of the most important things to check when it comes to travel insurance is what level of cover is provided and the excesses you will have to pay if you need to make a claim.
“Before you take out a policy, make sure it provides adequate medical, cancellation and baggage cover, and that the excesses charged aren’t so high that making a claim would be pointless.
“You’ve worked hard to afford your holiday, so make sure it’s properly protected and remember to compare policy features, not just premiums, from a range of insurers.
“Remember, with travel insurance, you tend to get what you pay for.”
It is worth taking out a policy as soon as you have booked your break. If something goes wrong before you travel and you need to cancel, you won’t be covered if you haven’t yet paid your premiums.
Bob Atkinson, at Moneysupermarket.com, said: “The best price doesn’t always offer the adequate protection you need – in particular, holidaymakers should carefully check that the amount of cover they get for lost baggage and cancellation is high enough to cover any potential claims.
“For those who tend to have more than one holiday a year, or those travelling long-haul for two weeks, it can be more cost-effective opting for an annual multi-trip policy.”
Sports and activities
Make sure you tell your insurer if you are planning to take part in any adventurous sports or activities. This will increase the cost of your policy, but it will give you cover if you injure yourself while paragliding or scuba diving, for example.
Don’t double up
“Before taking out a travel insurance policy, check that you’re not already covered elsewhere,”
said Ms Lloyd.
“Often, ‘packaged’ bank accounts will offer some form of travel insurance, so it’s worth making sure you’re not doubling up.
“Likewise, if your bank does offer travel insurance, make sure the cover provided is suitable for your needs and destination as the levels of cover on offer can vary significantly.”
Pre-existing medical conditions
If you fail to inform your insurer of any pre-existing medical condition, you may be refused a payout if you make a claim linked to that condition. You might well find that your premiums are barely affected by disclosing your condition, but even if it does cost you more, don’t fall into the trap of being less than honest when you buy your policy.
“Medical treatment abroad can easily run into thousands of pounds, so it may be worth paying a higher premium to ensure that you’re properly covered if you do need to make a claim while on holiday,”
said Ms Lloyd.