Guide to Travel Insurance

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance can cover for a variety of different incidents, from lost luggage to sickness or injury. However, many people still travel without it, leaving themselves at risk of great expense should something go wrong. This guide looks at what travel insurance is and whether you need it.

Travel insurance is a policy specifically designed to provide holidaymakers or travellers financial protection for unexpected expenses and losses, that arise out of their travel needs. Most common covers are medical emergencies, cancellations, travel delay and loss of personal possessions and baggage. It can also be extended to provide protection for additional sports and activities or even to cover pre-existing medical conditions.

Do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is not a legal requirement like car insurance, but without it you are at risk of incurring huge costs should something happen when you’re away. According to a recent study by ABTA, 40% of British holidaymakers travel with the wrong cover and 22% travel without any insurance at all. Due to the costs involved most travel companies now require proof of travel insurance, prior to completing a booking or issuing travel documents.

The average cost of a travel insurance claim is more than £1000, and is significantly more if it involves medical treatment or repatriation (returning you home).

Travel insurance is often seen as an added expense to travel arrangements and one that you never think you will need. However, without it and something does go wrong, especially if it involves medical treatment, you could be faced with having to pay a great deal of money, before treatment or assistance is provided.

There are many stories in the media of such situations having happened and the difficulties faced by either the individual involved or their families back home. Having travel insurance in place when you travel abroad should be always be considered a crucial part of organising any trip.

What type of travel insurance should I get?

There are a variety of travel insurance policies available and the cover you need will depend on your holiday type and requirements.

Single trip travel insurance

This cover will provide protection for a one-off break, whether that is a weekend away or a world tour of up to 365 consecutive days. The cost of this type of policy will depend on the length of your trip, the level of protection you require and the places you are travelling to. It is important that you discuss this with your adviser to ensure that you have the right level of cover.

Annual multi trip cover

Annual travel insurance cover typically provides protection for multiple trips of up to 31 consecutive days during the policy term. The level of cover for an annual policy can differ to a single trip policy so it is important that you are aware of any exclusions in your policy.

Travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions

Some travel insurance policies may not cover for pre-existing conditions and will require you to disclose any injuries or illnesses you already have before leaving. However, there are policies available which are designed to cover pre-existing conditions so that you can feel confident that you are protected.

European travel insurance

What cover does the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) provide?

ABTA’s study has shown that some travellers believe that their (EHIC) will provide them with the cover they need when in Europe. An EHIC entitles citizens of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to free or reduced-cost healthcare in any of the participating countries. It covers you for any medical treatment you might need, whether you fall ill or sustain an injury during an accident, whilst in that country, it does not cover for repatriation if you have a serious accident or illness.

In addition, it does not cover you for lost luggage, stolen items or cancellation, all of which can be provided by a travel insurance policy.

Travel insurance from Towergate

Towergate offers a range of different travel insurance policies to suit your requirements, from long stay travel insurance to pre-existing medical conditions and business travel policies. For more information visit our holiday insurance section or call us on 0330 123 2249 to speak to a specialist adviser.

What if I forget to buy travel insurance?

Whilst we would always recommend taking out travel insurance before your holiday, with the excitement of going away you may forget. However, it is possible to take out a policy once you are already overseas which means that you can still protect yourself for the rest of your trip. It is important to note that these types of policies often have a limit on how long you can have been away for before taking out the policy.

About the author

Tony Gilpin MCMI, CII COP is a highly respected and chartered industry leader with over 25 years’ experience in travel insurance, tour operators insurance financial failure insurance, travel agents insurance, bonding insurance and the travel industry, specialising in leadership, strategy, sales and account management. He is a Member of the Chartered Management Institute and also holds the Chartered Institute of Insurance's Certificate of Proficiency.