May 28th 2013

Ensure your holiday goes without a hitch

We all look forward to a well-deserved break once or even twice a year, so don’t let something as basic as a lack of travel insurance or an inadequate level of cover ruin your holiday.

Here are some useful tips to consider if you’re thinking of buying travel insurance:

Use the services of a chartered insurance broker to shop around on your behalf and find you the right product at the right price. Recognise that cheaper policies usually mean less cover – this can often prove to be a false economy. Consider annual multi-trip insurance if you go abroad more than once a year, and save yourself both time and money – check if the policy specifies a maximum number of days’ travel. If travelling within the European Economic Area you will need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as well as travel insurance – apply for your free EHIC. Don’t just rely on your credit card accident cover, home insurance, EHIC or private health cover – it’s not always sufficient.

What should my travel insurance policy include?

There are some key features that a good travel insurance policy should cover as standard. These include:

  • Medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad – the cost of an air ambulance from America to the UK for example can be £35,000+ and without adequate insurance, it’s you – not the British Embassy or High Commission – that will have to pay.
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance – If you are injured or fall ill while you are away, contact the helpline provided. You will be advised how to proceed.
  • Personal liability cover – in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property.
  • Lost and stolen possessions cover – check limits for single items such as cameras and jewellery are adequate and realistic as they can vary widely, and make sure you report a loss to the Police within 24 hours – you’ll need evidence of this when you make your claim.
  • Cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip) cover – check carefully to see exactly what you’re covered for eg jury service, bad weather.
  • Lost baggage on flights – don’t rely on compensation from an airline if it loses your luggage. By law, airlines only have to pay a specified minimum value per kilo of lost luggage and this is unlikely to cover the full value of your things.

Your policy should cover the whole time that you’re away and remember that the onis is on you to take care of your belongings at all times. If you fail to do so, the policy may not pay out. Most policies won’t pay out for drink or drug-related incidents either.

Added extras

Many insurers will extend their cover to include certain add-ons if you ask them. If not, it’s worth shopping around for a specialist policy. Options you may want to consider are: Personal accident cover – including a payment for permanent disability or death. Legal expenses cover – to help you pursue compensation or damages following personal injury while you’re abroad – very important in countries without a legal aid system. Financial protection if your airline goes bankrupt before or during your trip. Terrorism cover – about 60% of travel insurance policies include this cover but it’s worth checking. Activities that are commonly excluded from standard policies, such as jet skiing.

And finally…

It’s important to book your foreign holiday through a reputable travel company.

Good travel agents and tour operators will give you security through an ATOL membership with an approved body such as ABTA, but it’s always worth asking your travel company if financial protection applies to your travel arrangements themselves. If it doesn’t, the company may be able to offer suitable insurance to cover you.