Why you should buy travel insurance

Chances are you’ve already seen this story about the British bride who broke her back after falling from a balcony during her honeymoon in Corfu and had trouble being repatriated to the UK because she and her husband didn’t take out travel insurance for their trip. The couple thought that their European Health Insurance Cards, which you can get for free through the NHS, covered them for things like this. The cards entitle you (within the EU) to free or reduced-card medical care that is equivilent to what someone resident in the country would be entitled to – which is great, and definitely makes it worthwhile to get one – but it is specified that this should be used to complement travel insurance cover, not be used instead of.

Now, I have every sympathy for the couple – it’s a horrific accident to happen at any stage in your life but it seems particularly tragic for it to happen on your honeymoon. But it is really important to make sure you are adequately prepared when you go on holiday so that you are covered in the event of an emergency (or otherwise), and travel insurance is one thing that I would never recommend skimping on, because you just don’t know what might happen.

What it covers

The cheaper the insurance, the less it covers, or the less it will pay out in the amount of a claim, so do make sure that you look closely at any potential policy before purchasing. Here’s the essentials that you should make sure you are covered for:

  • Medical expenses and hospital benefit Not only should this cover emergency medical and dental treatment, it should also cover repatriation.
  • Baggage Cheaper policies won’t include baggage, but having lost a bag myself in the past it’s something I would recommend making sure is included. Make sure that the maximum possible payout for lost or stolen baggage would cover the cost of replacing everything you anticipate taking with you.
  • Cancellation and curtailment
  • Travel delay
  • Personal accident and liability, and legal expenses Hopefully you won’t have cause for any of these, but as they cover you for potentially thousands of pounds, they are invaluable to have just in case.
  • Personal money As with baggage, this isn’t always automatically included, but it’s worth  paying a little extra just in case any of your money is lost or stolen while you’re away

If you’re going skiing or snowboarding then you should ensure you have winter sports cover, and do be aware that many “extreme sports” like bungy jumping and skydiving aren’t usually covered by insurance – you’ll also want to double check that the country you’re travelling to is covered by the policy.

Where to buy travel insurance

There are hundreds of travel insurance companies out there, so the best thing to do is to do a bit of shopping around, and go with a reputable name. In the past, I’ve used both InsureandGo and Columbus Direct and have had no problems with either of them (in fact, Columbus paid out on two occasions for me – once when my bag was lost by the airline, and another time when it was delayed due to a late connection and I had to buy new clothes to last me until my bag turned up three days later), so if you don’t want to shop around too much then give them a go. Otherwise, use a comparison site like Money Supermarket or Compare the Market to see what’s on offer price and policy wise – though do make sure that you’re absolutely clear on what’s covered and what’s not.

One other thing to bear in mind is that there will be a premium – this is the price you have to pay yourself for any claim. So, say you have to go to hospital and it costs £200. You claim for the £200, but as your premium is £60, you just get £140 back from the insurance. Higher end policies will allow you to not have to pay a premium, though the price of the policy will obviously reflect that.

If you do need to make a claim for anything then make sure that you keep all relevant receipts and paperwork because you’ll need these to back up your claim, and if anything is stolen you’ll most likely need to have something from the police saying that you reported the item(s) as stolen.

It may seem like a lot to take in, but most sites are really well set out and easy to follow, and it is definitely worth paying for some insurance just for peace of mind. If you have any travel insurance related questions, then don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help.

Photo courtesy of Bernat Casero

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