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Travel insurance buyer's guide

How to buy travel insurance

Even in the current economic climate, people are still planning holidays and short breaks to the UK, Europe and beyond. But failing to take out travel insurance could be a costly mistake. When looking to choose the best travel insurance policy for you, factor in our tips before you begin to compare travel insurance policies to be certain you don’t get a nasty surprise while on holiday.

  • There are two main types of travel insurance: single-trip policies, which only cover one trip; or annual multi-trip policies, which cover you for every trip you make over the course of a year.
  • If you are looking at an annual multi-trip travel insurance policy, then think about where you are planning to go throughout the year. Insurers tend to offer European cover or more expensive worldwide cover. It might therefore be cheaper to buy one annual policy for Europe and single-trips for more global adventures. Check how many days come under your ‘maximum trip duration’ when you purchase annual cover — most insurers will cover trips of up to 31 days.
  • As a general rule, the best travel insurance policies include £2 million for medical expenses, £1 million for personal liability, £3,000 for cancellation, £1,500 for baggage and £250 for cash. Compare travel insurance policies that fulfil this criteria for truly comprehensive cover.
  • Many standard travel insurance policies won’t include any high-risk activities such as scuba-diving or skiing. Adding winter sports cover to your annual travel insurance policy could see your premium jump by 35%, so it might be worth taking out a specialist single trip policy to cover a particular holiday.
  • Be upfront and honest about any pre-existing medical complaints, as non-disclosure could result in your claim being rejected. Some policies do not cover pregnant women beyond 28 weeks, while some policies have age exclusions. Read the small print if you fall into any of the above categories. Remember: a medical claim might be rejected is if you have been drinking alcohol.
  • Check whether your policy has cancellation cover (and whether it is enough) as well as baggage cover, though remember it can be hard to hard to claim for items lost or stolen when abroad.
  • If you are travelling with your partner and children, then consider a family travel insurance policy. Check with your insurer to see if it will cover your children if they travel without you — on a school trip for example. Also, check if you’re covered if one parent needs to stay behind and one go home early, for example with a sick child.
  • The level of excess you opt for will affect your premium: the more you are prepared to pay, the lower your premium will be.
  • Some insurers now include airline failure cover as standard but make sure you check the small print. If they don’t, then adding this cover to your travel insurance could cost just £7 for an annual policy.