What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
A brief look at what travel insurance covers and its limitations
Whether we choose to go for a weekend in Barcelona or a month in Melbourne, travel insurance is an absolute must. It is the difference between facing a massive hospital bill or affordable treatment if you come to grief on your travels. Travelling uninsured tempts fate.
What should travel insurance cover?
- Emergency Travel Costs: unlike the UK where NHS medical treatment is free at the point of delivery, treatment overseas could incur hospital charges and ambulance fees.
- Your return journey, post-treatment: whether you are able to use your return ticket home or not, your insurance policy should cover the cost of return travel from the hospital to your home after treatment.
- Any additional travel and accommodation expenses for a UK-based relative or close friend, who you might need to stay with you or escort you.
- Temporary emergency dental treatment, if you are in immediate pain whilst away.
- Access to 24-hour helplines with confidential support and advice over health conditions.
What isn’t covered by travel insurance?
- Trips to volatile destinations: any country in the midst of conflict. GOV.UK’s Foreign Travel Advice pages are well worth checking out before you book.
- Any undisclosed health conditions: a failure to disclose any health conditions will invalidate your policy.
- Accidents caused by excessive alcohol consumption: some insurance providers will not cover accidents caused by drinking too many alcoholic beverages.
- Some forms of terrorist activity: insurance companies only offer limited cover against terrorism. To assuage any potential difficulties, look for a policy which covers you for emergency medical treatment and repatriation if the worst happens.
What Else Does Travel Insurance Cover?
As well as covering for medical emergencies (which neatly dovetails with our practice), you are also covered for:
- Cancellations: if the cancellation has had a perverse effect on your business trip or leisurely break;
- Your trip being cut short: this could cover extremely long delays or your trip being cut short due to, for example, an important appointment or the loss of a loved one;
- Loss or theft of luggage: for example, your suitcases falling into the wrong hands at the luggage carousel;
- Loss of theft of possessions: for example, your money, passport, or personal possessions.
Single Trip or Multi-Trip?
If you seldom travel overseas, single trip travel insurance may be most suitable for your needs. When you book a package holiday, some tour operators may offer travel insurance as an optional extra. This enables you to either stick with the tour operator’s preferred insurance provider or choose your own.
Many holidaymakers choose to travel once a year for a week or two overseas and a single trip insurance policy is suitable enough for their needs. For more regular overseas travellers, a multi-trip insurance policy is more cost-effective than a separate one per journey. If you travel overseas a lot, either for business or pleasure (for example, European football matches or the odd short break on the continent), it is sensible to have an annual policy covering all journeys.
Finding Suitable Cover
- GOV.UK: Foreign travel insurance (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 22 March 2013);
- Association of British Insurers: Travel insurance (detailed article on types of cover and entitlements);
- Financial Ombudsman Service: Travel Insurance (another article on the subject, written in a more concise form).
Personal Injury Overseas, 16 September 2016