Do you need travel insurance?

Travel insurance (or holiday insurance) is important if you want to make sure you’ll be able to afford medical care when you’re abroad.

Why take out travel insurance?

The average cost for overseas medical treatment is £2,040, but can be much higher. For example, in one case treating multiple fractures and an artery tear in the USA, a British citizen for forced to take an air ambulance back to the UK. The cost of the treatment and transport was close to £500,000.

Source: Association of British Insurers

  • Getting medical care on holiday could cost you thousands of pounds.
  • Other insurance – like credit card accident cover and private health insurance – doesn’t cover most travel emergencies.
  • Without insurance, you may have to cover emergency expenses on your own – the British Consulate is unlikely to help you.
  • Travel insurance that covers getting you home and medical expenses is essential.

What does travel insurance cover?

One in three claims on travel insurance is for medical treatment.

Source: Money Advice Service

Most policies include cover for:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Personal liability, in case you’re sued for damaging property or causing injury
  • Lost or stolen bags
  • The costs of cancelling, delaying or cutting short your trip

What isn’t covered by travel insurance?

There are some common things you should watch out for:

  • If you are over 65 or have a medical condition, you might need specialist insurance. If you have a medical condition you have to tell your insurer if asked or risk invalidating your insurance policy. When you buy insurance you must answer all questions about your circumstances and health honestly. You have to include everything, even if you think it’s not important, for example taking regular tablets for high blood pressure or angina. If you don’t your policy won’t be valid.
  • Adventure sports, winter sports and any ‘dangerous activities’ are often not covered as part of a standard travel insurance policy and you may need extra cover.
  • With most policies, you aren’t covered for travel to countries or regions that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommends avoiding – view the latest list on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website
  • Coverage for strikes, civil unrest, earthquakes, acts of terrorism and epidemics such as SARS varies.

Because travel insurance policies vary, we’ve prepared some guides to help you find the specific information – and cover – you need.

Do you still need travel insurance if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

  • With an EHIC (formerly E111) you get the same level of state-provided medical care as someone who lives in the country you’re visiting. It’s valid in all European Economic Area countries and Switzerland.
  • The downside is that the local level of care may not be the same as what you’d get in the UK. You will also need to pay for part of your bills, if that’s how the local system works.
  • EHIC won’t cover the costs of repatriation – getting you back home – after a medical emergency on holiday could be very costly.
  • If you use an EHIC to get medical care, some insurers won’t ask you to pay the excess on your medical claims.
  • While it’s worth getting an EHIC, it’s not enough on its own. You should still get travel insurance that includes medical and repatriation cover.

Can travel insurance represent good value?

Britons spend more than double the cost of an average single trip travel insurance policy on magazines and sweets at the airport.

Source: Association of British Insurers

The main benefit of travel insurance is in having emergency medical cover on holiday.

  • What happens if you have a bad fall on the ski slopes and need a helicopter to a good hospital?
  • How would you cope if one of the kids fell ill – even with something minor – in the US or another country with sky-high medical costs?

With those costs covered, you’ll quickly realise the value of having a holiday insurance policy.

The cover you get for personal possessions can be covered under your home contents insurance policy. It’s best to check whether you have this already before you add it to your travel policy. Some travel insurers will give you a discount if you exclude baggage cover.

Did you find this guide helpful?