Travel insurance – what does a good policy look like?

Travel insurance policies vary a great deal, covering different losses and offering different features. Use these simple tables to check what features are a ‘must have’, a ‘should have’ or a ‘could have’ to make sure you buy the right policy for you.

‘Must have’ features

‘Must have’ features A good policy will give
Medical expenses – provides cover towards the costs of emergency medical and surgical treatment while you are away. £1 million or more for travel to Europe
£2million or more for the USA
Any treatment which can wait until you return home (according to medical opinion) would not usually be covered.
Getting you back home (repatriation service) – cover is provided for the costs of emergency repatriation (for medical reasons) back to the UK. Includes cover automatically
Any treatment or surgery which is not immediately necessary and can wait until you return to the UK would not be covered.
Cancellation/curtailment – if you have to cancel or shorten your trip, this covers you for any travel and accommodation costs you have paid and can’t use or claim back. £2,000 or more
Policies will only cover cancellations in certain circumstances – check the terms and conditions.
Missed departure – covers costs of additional accommodation and travel expenses if you miss your departure flight, boat or train due to situations outside of your control – such as your car breaking down, being involved in an accident or public transport being delayed. £500 or more
You won’t be covered if you haven’t allowed sufficient time to get to the airport, station or port. You’ll need to be able to provide a report from the breakdown company to show you had a real breakdown.
Delay – if your travel plans become delayed for example, due to industrial action, adverse weather or mechanical breakdown the insurer will pay you a certain amount. £200 or more
There will be separate limits for the first 12 hours of delay and for every 12 hours after that. Delays known about before you started your journey (such as strikes) won’t be covered.
Travel abandonment – if you have to abandon your trip and cancel your journey, this cover will reimburse your travel and accommodation expenses. £2,000 or more
Policies will only cover travel abandonment in certain circumstances – check the terms and conditions.
Baggage cover – covers your baggage if it is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. £1,500 or more
There are usually separate limits for single articles, valuables and baggage delay. You will need to report all losses within certain time periods and get a written report from your airline if they lose your baggage.
Personal liability cover – this covers you if you are liable to pay damages due to accidental bodily injury to someone or for loss or damage to someone’s property. £2 million or more
Claims made by members of your family or people in your employment won’t be covered.

‘Should have’ features

‘Should have’ features A good policy will give
Dental emergency – provides cover towards the costs of emergency dental treatment while you’re away. It usually only provides cover for the immediate relief of pain. £250 or more
Non-emergency treatment and cosmetic treatment aren’t covered.
Money – replaces money or equivalent (like travellers’ cheques or pre-paid tickets) if it is lost or stolen. £500 or more
Any claim for loss or theft of personal money which you do not report to the local police within 24 hours of discovering it and which you do not get a written police report for will not be covered.
Cash – covers you for loss of or damage to money held as cash. £300 or more
Terrorism – covers your medical costs and other insured losses like damaged baggage in the event of an act of terrorism. Full cover is provided
Some insurers only cover certain things in the event of terrorism, for example medical costs or personal accident but not baggage damage.
Loss of passport – provides cover towards additional travel and accommodation expenses as a result of needing to replace a lost passport. £250 or more
Unless you have receipts for the additional expenses incurred you won’t be covered.

‘Could have’ features

‘Could have’ features A good policy will give
Scheduled airline failure – covers you in the event of your airline going out of business. £1,500 or more
Your insurance company won’t cover you if you’re able to get a refund from another source.
Winter sports – covers you for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, etc. Cover for your own or hired winter sports equipment, loss of ski pack, piste closure and avalanche delay
Certain types of winter sports like luge or bobsledding won’t be covered. Skiing or snowboarding off-piste is not usually covered, unless it’s with an experienced local guide.

Things to watch out for

Things to watch out for A good policy will give
Different excess amounts – your insurance company might apply different excesses depending on the type of claim. For example, amounts may differ according to whether a claim is for cancellation, baggage loss, abandonment or personal liability. One excess is applied per claim
Some insurance companies charge an excess per person, or even per person per section of the policy claimed under.
Overseas days – maximum number of days that you are covered for whilst outside of the UK in any policy period. 120 days or more
Trip duration – maximum duration for any one trip during the policy period. 30 days or more
Receipts for baggage claims – when you need to claim for your baggage, some insurance companies will insist on proof, in the form of a receipt, for all baggage items or all items above a certain value. No receipts required

The tables above set out what to look for, but if you want to know whether you need travel insurance or not, or if you want to work out much cover you need, follow one of the links below:

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