When was the last time you took a close look at the small print of a travel insurance policy you bought? For many travellers, the answer is never. They rely on comparison sites to find the cheapest deals and that’s as much detail as they need to know.
But it really is worth taking a closer look at what you are paying for. There are thousands of different types of travel policy out there, all offering different things. If you simply go for the cheapest all the time, you’ll only be getting the most basic level of cover available.
It might not even cover all the potential expenses should you need to make a claim. Or it might not even cover you and your particular personal circumstances at all.
If just the thought of wading through insurance policy small print gives you a headache, never fear. He’s a quick guide to some of the key categories of cover, what the key terms mean, and what to look out for.
One of the key things travel insurance covers you for is trip cancellations for unforeseen circumstances. This is something that has become much more prominent over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tens of thousands of travellers have had to cancel holidays at the last minute because of positive COVID tests. Demand for robust cancellation cover has therefore soared.
The first thing to look for in the small print is when the cancellation cover on a policy starts. For single trip travel insurance, you ideally want it to start the moment you complete the purchase. This protects you no matter when something untoward happens, whether that’s a travel company going bust, a family bereavement or anything else.
The second thing to look for is what reasons for cancellation the policy actually covers. COVID-related cancellations are obviously high on the list at the moment, but don’t make any assumptions. Check, for example, if the policy will pay out if you or a family member develop symptoms and can’t go because of illness, or if you will have to confirm that with a positive test.
Medical cover is the most valuable part of any travel insurance. It’s there to give you financial protection if you suffer a medical emergency and need treatment, which overseas visitors have to pay for. This can be very expensive, so it’s important you get the right policy for your needs.
You have to be especially careful if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Read the terms and conditions before you buy. Most insurers will charge more to cover people with long-term medical conditions because it increases the likelihood of falling ill and making a claim. But how much they charge is often not immediately apparent. Some premiums added for medical conditions can be prohibitively expensive.
It’s also important to read the terms around medical advice. Most insurers will specify that their policies will be invalid if you travel against the advice of a doctor. It’s also common to find that policies won’t cover you if you are awaiting the results of any kind of diagnostic tests.
All travel insurance policies will come with a list of things that they don’t cover, or things that will invalidate the cover. We’ve already mentioned travelling against the advice of your doctor. Not declaring a pre-existing medical condition is another one.
It’s important to read through the list of exemptions if you are planning on taking part in any kind of sport or adventure activity while you are away. For example, standard travel insurance will not cover you for skiing, because of the accident risk. You have to take out winter sports cover to be protected.
Other common exemptions include electronic gadgets like smartphones, laptops and cameras. This can cause a lot of problems when people assume they are covered under personal baggage. You may be able to add gadget cover as a paid-for extra. And it’s worth checking the value of the loss and theft cover for your personal belongings, as it might not be enough to cover the cost of other high-value items like jewellery.