Guest post by John Avanti
Travel insurance can be a bit of a minefield. When you start searching for a policy online, you’re quickly confronted with hundreds of options from dozens of different providers.
You run into terms like single trip travel insurance, multi-trip insurance, annual insurance, medical travel insurance… and all you want is solid protection for a decent price! How do you go about unpicking all of that to find the right option for you?
It’s worth spending a little time choosing your travel insurance policy because, at the end of the day, it could end up bailing you out to the tune of hundreds or even thousands of pounds. If your trip gets cancelled, if you fall ill and need medical assistance while abroad, if you lose your luggage – these can all prove very expensive. Travel insurance has you covered.
But, only if you have the right policy. If you’re not careful, you could end up with insurance that’s not suitable for you or your trip, and then you won’t be covered. There are a number of common traps you could fall into when shopping around for travel insurance. Avoid these, and you are well on your way to getting the protection you need.
Thinking travel insurance is not worth it
One common response to being met with a barrage of options for travel insurance is thinking that it’s not worth the hassle. Before the pandemic in any case, millions of people went on holiday every year without travel insurance. The usual justification is that you never have to claim anyway, so why bother?
That argument quickly falls apart when something does happen and you need to make a claim – or at least you would, if you had travel insurance. ‘Never’ is a strong word. It’s true that, thankfully, most holidays go off without a hitch and claims only have to be made against a small percentage of travel policies. But if you are one of the unlucky ones, not having travel insurance could hit you hard.
For example, it is estimated that around a third of holidaymakers from the UK have needed medical treatment while abroad at some point – treatment you have to pay for. While costs vary considerably depending on what treatment you need, the average is a staggering £5,620 – more than 18,000 times more expensive than the average travel insurance policy!
Which sounds the better value to you?
Always going for the cheapest possible policy
Following on from not bothering with travel insurance at all, another common mistake is to pick a policy based on the cheapest deal that comes up on a comparison site. Sure, we all want good value. But do you really know what you are getting for your money?
The cheapest policies offer the most basic cover. You’re likely to get emergency medical cover, personal baggage cover, maybe some level of cancellation cover, and that’s it. There will probably be a high excess to pay. If you do get cancellation cover, it’s likely to have a low payout limit – possibly not even covering the full cost of your holiday.
At the very minimum, you should always look for a policy that covers the full cost of your trip. And it’s worth looking at some of the extras that higher priced deals include, such as missed departure cover, or cancellations / return flight costs if a positive COVID test means you can’t fly.
Not declaring medical conditions
A big potential pitfall with travel insurance is failing to declare any medical conditions you have when you buy. Sometimes this is a genuine mistake, because people are in a rush and don’t read the requested information declarations properly. Sometimes people do it because they know from experience that policy prices go up when they say they have a medical condition.
Either way, not telling your insurer about a condition will basically leave you uninsured. If you end up having to make a claim, the insurance company will look into your personal circumstances as part of the process. That will include looking into your medical history. As soon as they see you have a diagnosed medical condition, this will raise a red flag on your claim. Why didn’t you tell them about it upfront?
The reason it matters is that medical conditions increase the chances of you needing to make a claim for medical treatment. If you haven’t told your insurance company about one, they will say you have the ‘wrong’ insurance. Your insurance will be invalidated, and you’ll be left out of pocket unable to make your claim.
As we have seen, if the claim happens to be for medical treatment, that can be very expensive indeed.