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Travel insurance – what is the best type of insurance for you?

Going on holiday can be very stressful to plan, especially if you have a family. As well as arranging passports, online check-ins, remembering tickets and changing your money, it can be hard to remember everything you need to travel. One thing really important not to forget is your travel insurance.

What is travel insurance?

When travelling overseas it is really important to sort out your travel insurance before you go. As hard as it is to think about, you need to consider what might happen to you and your family if one of you has an accident or is unwell abroad. Foreign health care can be enormously expensive, for example:

- A stomach bug/infection treated in a Californian hospital with return flights cost £100,000
- A fall resulting in a broken hip, treatment in a Spanish hospital with return flights cost £15,000
The British embassy or high commission will not pay for your medical bills before you come home, so it is up to you to sort out your travel insurance before you go.

You should always make sure travel insurance covers healthcare, but that’s not the only thing it’s good for.

What’s covered?

What you have covered will depend on the insurance you choose and the amount you pay. Extra cover can be added when required, but make sure that you check your basic policy covers:
- Cancellation – in case you need to cancel or cut your holiday short (make sure you read the small print as most insurers only pay out for specific reasons)
- Delay- your insurance should compensate you if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours
- Baggage and belongings- You policy should pay out if your belongings are lost, stolen or damaged
- Medical cover- make sure you are covered by up to £2 million, this is what industry experts recommend to deal with most eventualities that you may come across when abroad.

Other types of policies may offer additional extras, such as legal expenses cover or personal liability cover. Often these are not needed and everything will be included in your basic policy, but you might want to weigh up what you think you will need.

If you have any pre existing medical conditions a basic policy will not cover any medical help you will need aboard in relation to this. Some specialist policies will cover pre-existing conditions, though the higher risk of a claim is usually reflected in a higher premium.


Your destination will affect your cover. Many policies, especially annual ones, only cover short haul destinations within Europe, as the cost of medical claims in these countries is typically cheaper, which would be reflected in the premium. For those travelling further afield, make sure you buy a worldwide policy or a single trip policy for the specific destination.

Some destinations, such as ones which the Foreign Office has recommended UK nationals stay away from, will be harder to get insurance for, and you may need to speak to a specialist.

Length of trip

If you are going on a long haul trip, a gap year or backpacker insurance plan might be more suitable to you. Many annual policies only cover a certain number of days per year, and many individual policies will only cover travel up to one month.

Type of holiday

If you are going on a relaxing beach holiday, a basic policy should cover you fine. If you fancy taking part in certain sports or leisure activities you may need to top-up your cover or buy a specialist policy. Things like skiing and snowboarding or bungee jumping and skydiving are not usually included in basic policies, and if something happens to you, the company could refuse to pay out.

European Health Insurance Card

If you are holidaying in Europe you can apply for a free European Health Insurance Card. This entitles you to medical treatment in state run hospitals in the EU and can be used in an emergency, but is not a substitute for insurance. If the country you are in charges for healthcare, you will also have to pay.

So, we would recommend that anytime you travel overseas you should always get travel insurance. If anything bad is to happen to you , you will at least have the piece of mind that you will not be hit with a massive bill, or have to replace your possessions yourself when you get home.

Do you have any travel insurance tips? Let us know on Twitter @financialuk !

Don’t forget, if you have any financial questions our financial advisers are always happy to help, so call us on 0800 092 1245 or ask us a question online.

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