It may be tempting to see travel insurance as an unnecessary expense to add to your family holiday bill, but the alternative could be an astronomical bill should something happen while you’re away.
From natural disasters to accidents and emergencies, it’s important that our health and belongings are adequately insured. But as with everything, there are ways to keep costs down on your insurance.
What is essential in policies?
It is essential to ensure that your policy has adequate medical cover (at least £2 million in Europe and £5 million worldwide) as well as repatriation, cancellation, curtailment, baggage and personal belongings.
Don’t just select the cheapest deal – always check the small print to see what cover is provided, the cost of the excesses and how much is reimbursed.
A 24-hour hotline for emergency assistance is recommended while personal liability or accident cover should also be considered.
If you ski or snowboard, then winter sports cover is needed. Even this may not include off-piste skiing or freeriding as additional premiums are required for more adventurous activities like quad biking or even ostrich racing!
Insurance companies don’t automatically provide cover for natural disasters, terrorist acts, strikes or insolvency. For complete peace of mind, you may need to pay an extra ‘travel disruption’ supplement.
Booking with a tour operator is less risky than going independently as an ATOL- or ABTA-bonded travel agent carries certain responsibilities to care for its clients.
For those who prefer to book their own flights and accommodation, check companies such as Aviva, Axa, Insure & Go or Marks & Spencer for independent traveller policies that include SAFI (scheduled airline failure insurance).
Most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidences.
How do I keep costs down?
Be smart about how you book your policy, and you’ll be surprised at the savings you can make. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t assume that the holiday company or airline you are booking with will offer the best-value policy. Shop around, perhaps using price comparison websites.
- Buying online is usually cheapest.
- Ensure you only pay for what you require. You don’t need worldwide cover if you are only travelling within Europe.
- It is important to take out travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday to guard against cancellation.
- If you take more than one holiday a year, consider an annual, multi-trip policy. Couples and families can save by taking a shared policy.
- Get a free European Health Insurance card for each family member and ensure that they are kept up to date. It entitles you to health care in many European countries.
- Premiums rise sharply when you reach the age of 65 or over (or even 50 in some cases). Approach insurance companies like Saga that are sympathetic to the older generation. Comparison websites also suggest insurers that will offer those with pre-existing medical conditions a better deal.
- Although paying by credit card usually incurs a surcharge, this little extra could be money well spent: If things go wrong, the credit card provider is jointly liable with the retailer for a refund.