Looking for Travel Insurance? Here's What You Should Know

Read up on all the factors – from planned destinations to holiday activities – that you should consider when looking for travel insurance.

Looking for Travel Insurance? Here's What You Should Know

Whether you’re going to a beach resort in Bali or hitchhiking through Africa, travel can be unpredictable. It’s always wise to prepare for all situations – be it a missed flight, lost luggage or accident which prevents you from travelling further. Having insurance means that you can be protected against paying hefty fees if the unexpected happens, so it’s a must for anyone going abroad. If you’re looking for travel insurance, here are the key questions to keep in mind throughout your search.

What Types of Travel Insurance Are Available?

The type of travel insurance you can buy mainly depends on how often you travel, your destination(s) and any travel companions. Remember – you might end up needing to add extras to cover pre-existing conditions or certain activities. First off, let’s look at annual and single travel insurance.

Annual or Single?

Frequent travellers will want to purchase annual insurance – this generally works out cheaper for anyone planning on going abroad more than twice in the next 12 months, depending on the destinations visited. If you only have one or two trips planned, then single-trip insurance is often your best bet. For single-trip insurance, cover can be directly tailored to your destination and travel dates, whereas this can be harder to define with annual cover.

Europe or Global?

A man pointing to a globe

If you’re already living on the continent, you’ll find that European travel insurance is largely cheaper than global insurance. Price will vary depending on destination (even within Europe) with some countries deemed as a higher risk on insurance terms than others. Inform your insurer of your exact destination, as simply listing “Europe” could result in prices being determined by so-called “riskier” countries.

When buying insurance, look at the exact destinations that you’re covered for. Some Europe policies also include African countries like Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco, while others don’t. It’s also important to note that not all global policies include the USA, due to its expensive medical fees.

Group or single?

A group of people sitting together, sharing a meal

If you’re travelling with a companion or family member, it may be cheaper to buy a group policy. Some providers allow you to travel independently on a group policy, but always check that this is specified in the terms and conditions first.

What About Pre-Existing Conditions?

A doctor checking someone's medical history

People with pre-existing medical conditions may struggle to find affordable travel insurance. Like other insurance policies, the price is partly based on perceived risk and if you’re deemed to be a higher risk while on holiday, it’ll cost more to insure you. Depending on your condition, you may need to buy specialist insurance.

Despite the high costs, we’d definitely recommend disclosing any pre-existing conditions, even if it seems minor or irrelevant. You’ll also need to tell your provider if you develop any health conditions between taking out your policy and travelling abroad. Failure to be completely honest about pre-existing conditions could result in your insurance being invalid, so honesty is, as always, the best policy.

Are All Activities Covered?

An image of three snowboarders

No – if you’re planning on undertaking a specific activity when on holiday, make sure to check that it is covered in your policy. As standard, most policies don’t include winter sports like skiing or snowboarding and some don’t include water sports, such as kitesurfing. In some cases, specialist cover can be bought to insure skiers or snowboarders, for instance, but we always recommend informing your insurer if you plan to participate in any extreme sports.

Even activities that seem safe might not be covered. For example, one study revealed that only a third of policies offer cruise cover (insurance while on a cruise) as a premium product. While cruises aren’t unsafe, travel insurance companies deem the many potential scenarios for travel mishap as high risk. When travelling by cruise ship, for instance, you’re more likely to miss a departure or have a change in itinerary. We recommend closely reading the terms and conditions, especially concerning any activities, before purchasing travel insurance.

How Far in Advance Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

Always try to buy travel insurance prior to travelling, but if you don’t get round to it, you’ll find that a lot of policies offer the option to start your insurance from the date of purchase rather than the date of departure. As travel insurance can protect against pre-departure disasters (like broken legs), many experts recommend starting it as soon as possible. This ensures you get the most out of your insurance and aren’t penalised in the event of becoming injured before your holiday even starts.