Following a few basic rules before and while you are on holiday can save you from suffering a financial nightmare.
Here are some of the things you can do to mitigate your situation should things go wrong.
- If you are planning to travel abroad more than once over the next 12 months, it’s probably better to opt for an annual travel-insurance policy than a single-trip policy.
- Plan ahead. Your insurance policy will cover any cancellations (assuming you have a valid reason, of course) but only if the policy is in force at the time of the cancellation. So if you are due to fly next week and your policy covers you from next week, but you suffer an emergency and have to cancel your trip today, you won’t be covered. In other words, it’s best to make sure your insurance starts from the day you book your trip.
- As with all insurance products, shop around for the most competitive holiday protection. If you sign up for insurance from an airline or a holiday provider, you can be sure you’re paying over the odds.
- Medical cover is perhaps the most important component of travel insurance. As well as providing care for you should you fall ill or get injured, it will also cover the cost of flying you home in an air ambulance if required. According to the Money Advice Service, a good policy will offer you cover of at least £1m for visits to Europe, and at least £2m for visits to the US.
- Many insurers, including specialist ones, will cover you for pre-existing medical conditions, but you must let them know in advance. Failing to do this can render your policy invalid should you need to make a claim – even if the claim is for something else entirely. It might be only serious conditions that your insurer will require to be declared, but to be on the safe side, tell your insurer about any conditions, ailments, pending tests or any recent doctor’s appointments.
- If you book a flight that departs from any EU airport or use an airline that’s based in the EU, you are entitled to compensation of your departure is delayed by three hours or more. (Issues outside an airline’s control, such as bad weather, are excluded.) Depending on the length of the delay and the distance of your flight, this could be worth about £500. But make sure you speak to your airline about this – there’s no need to pay a third-party handler to put a claim in for you.
- If you have a credit card, consider paying for all or some of your holiday with it. It can cost a little more to use a credit card, but it gives you an extra layer of protection because the card company will become jointly liable if your airline or tour company goes bust.
- European Health Insurance Cards are a must for people travelling within the EU (and in countries such as Norway, Switzerland and Iceland). An EHIC doesn’t guarantee you free healthcare or even care of the standard you might get on the NHS. What it does offer, though, is care of the same standard and at the same cost as residents of the country you are in receive. An EHIC is free and easy to apply for. Visit www.ehic.org – and beware the many alternative websites that promise to complete the application for you for a fee. They look official, but they are rip-offs.