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What is Travel Insurance?

What is travel insurance?

If you’re reading this post you might be a bit confused about what travel insurance is for and why you might want to consider getting some before you next holiday. We’ll go through everything you need to know to make a decision and cover off some of the most common questions.


What does it cover?

In short, travel insurance gives you financial protection for a range of problems you might encounter while travelling away from home.

Emergency medical expenses

This is one of the biggest and often most important ones. While some countries have accessible and free healthcare if something went wrong while you’re there, many countries do not. Particularly in countries like the US, or in countries where public healthcare is not readily available, going private would be your only option and could rack up incredibly expensive charges for you in an emergency. Wherever you are in the world, there’s also the possible cost of having to get you back to the UK which also isn’t cheap.

Cancellation or delay

Probably one of the main cover areas that comes to mind for travel insurance, particularly since the pandemic, is the ability to claim for your trip being cancelled before you’ve even left home. While this won’t cover you for just choosing not to go anymore, if you’ve opted for a cheap non-refundable deal and suddenly your flights are cancelled with no way of rescheduling, for example, any prepaid hotels or other activities may be eligible for claim and a refund.

Cutting your trip short

Likewise, if something happens while you’re already on holiday and you need to return home early, you may not be able to get a refund for the rest of your stay or be able to change your existing travel plans. An example of this might be if a family member is suddenly taken ill or dies and you need to return home on the next flight.

Lost or stolen luggage

We’ve all seen the news stories of luggage chaos at airports, and if you’ve ever experienced it you’ll know how much of a pain losing your luggage can be on holiday. Having appropriate cover to claim back these costs, and being able to access that money to replace items there and then can be the difference between you being able to enjoy your holiday and having to go home early. Some policies might have a waiting period before you can claim for lost luggage (sometimes up to 21 days as this is when airlines will typically declare it lost), but we also offer smart luggage cover which can pay out £50 instantly if your luggage is delayed by 30 mins and an additional £500 if it’s still delayed after 48 hours.


But I’ve already got a GHIC/EHIC card…

That’s good as it’s important to have this when travelling in Europe, but it’s not a substitute for travel insurance, but rather a compliment to it. A GHIC (which replaced the old EHIC from before Brexit) allows you to have the same public medical care that a local would – so if it’s free for them, then it is for you. This would cover medical emergency care, so if you’re in a country where it gets you free treatment then it may suffice for some cases. However, for countries where care is not free, public healthcare is not adequate or quick enough and you need or want to go private, and any instance where you require repatriation then you will only be covered if you have travel insurance. The GHIC only relates to medical care as well, so it can’t provide any cover for cancellation or lost luggage etc.


How much cover do I need?

It will depend on what areas of cover are important to you and your circumstances. For things like lost luggage and trip cancellation, you should be able to work out how much cover you need by adding up the total you’ve prepaid for things on the holiday or by adding up the value of everything you’re taking with you.

For other areas of cover, like medical expenses, more cover is likely to be ‘better’ as costs can get particularly expensive and you don’t know what medical emergency might occur for you or your family. However, you’ll have to balance this with the cost that you’re willing to pay for your insurance. A common range of values for medical expenses cover would be between £2m and £10m. Anything less than £2m may be too low (particularly if visiting the USA), and paying extra for anything above £10m might not be necessary unless you have pre-existing medical conditions and you want peace of mind from a higher amount of cover.

The other area to consider is the policy excess, and whether this differs across different types of claims. You will likely be able to find travel policies that are cheaper and still have high cover levels, but if there is a high excess that is above what you’d be wanting to pay in the event of a claim then the cover isn’t really fit for your needs, even if it is cheap.


Am I already covered under my Home Insurance?

For some things, possibly yes. You may have taken out an optional extra on your home insurance for personal belongings away from the home, which will often cover your things anywhere in the world away from home. However, you’d only be covered under the terms of that policy, which would typically be things like loss, damage, or theft. So, while you could potentially claim under your home policy if your luggage was stolen while on holiday, you wouldn’t be covered for any other travel related claims like medical expenses or cancellation.


When should I buy it?

Cancellation of your trip before you leave can only be covered if you have a policy in place before the event that causes the cancellation, so the safest option is to buy cover as soon as you have booked the holiday. You can still take out cover up until you leave, but there’s no benefit to doing this as the price is likely to still remain the same even if you book further out. Taking out cover while you’ve already started a trip though requires a different type of policy that many providers won’t offer, so make sure you’ve bought a policy before you leave!


What optional covers are there?

In addition to the common headline areas of cover we mentioned above, there are a few other options that you might need to look at:

Cruise cover

Recently cruise operators are requiring passengers to evidence that they have travel insurance before they embark, which means it’s very important that you have adequate cover in place before you sail. The main reason for this is the lack of medical care on the ship, and any emergency is likely to require helicopter transport back to a mainland hospital. Other areas of cover might include missed port departure, cabin confinement or unused excursions.

Winter sports

Skiing or snowboarding also bring with them their own risks and possible claimable events. Some policies will not cover you for medical expenses incurred from skiing without this cover, but by taking this you’ll usually also benefit from ski equipment loss/damage and piste closure, among other things.

Adventure sports

In a similar way to winter sports cover, if you’re looking at doing anything adventurous on your holidays then you’ll need to check what activities are covered as standard and which require additional cover. This is as simple as finding your chosen activities within a long list to make sure that you’re covered before you go white water rafting or scuba diving, for example.


What about medical conditions?

As we’ve already discussed, medical costs are a major component of travel insurance. This is of particular importance for anyone with a pre-existing health condition (i.e. doesn’t occur unexpectedly while on the trip). Cover is often more expensive in these cases, depending on the condition, as the risk to the insurer of paying out a claim and the potential cost of the claim may be higher. In some cases, a condition may mean that someone struggles to find insurance at all, as only specialist providers can cater for certain pre-existing health conditions. At coverbaloo, we’ll consider any pre-existing medical conditions, and most of them we can quote for at a competitive rate thanks to our panel of specialist insurers.


You can find out more information about our travel insurance product here, or click the button below to get a quote.

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