Travel and holidays

Do I need travel insurance for my holiday?

Let’s face it - when it comes to planning your next adventure, travel insurance is usually at the bottom of the priority list. In fact, research shows that 48 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds travel without cover each year. But it’s probably one of the most important things to consider before you go on holiday, as it will make sure you’re protected should something go wrong. To help you decide which travel insurance is best suited to your trip, we’ve pulled together some things to consider when taking out a travel insurance policy:

Do I need travel insurance?

If you’re heading off abroad, then you might want to consider having some form of travel insurance in place to protect not just yourself, but your belongings as well. However, there are lots of different types of travel insurance available with varying levels of cover for different types of holiday, so it’s important to do your research to make sure you have the right insurance for your type of trip.

There will also be instances where you might not need travel insurance. For example, if you’re just taking the car down the motorway for a quick camping trip in Devon - which probably won’t have too many costs involved - then you might want to reconsider whether you need travel insurance for your trip. You’ll probably find that the main risk is the driving aspect, which would be covered under your car insurance. However, if you’re planning on taking some expensive gadgets with you, then you might want to consider the financial impact if they were to be stolen from your tent. It might be a good idea to have some form of gadget insurance in place, just in case. Gadget insurance can cover your belongings for loss, theft, accidental and liquid damage, and will usually provide cover outside of the UK as well. But bear in mind that your gadgets might not be covered if they’ve been left unattended, so make sure to check the terms and conditions of your policy before you go, and keep valuable items with you at all times.

If you’re travelling abroad, however, then there are a lot of additional costs involved that might financially impact you should something go wrong. So if you’ve forked out a fair bit of cash for the holiday of a lifetime, then taking out a travel insurance policy might just give you that additional peace of mind so you can sit back and relax on your trip.

Consider what would happen should you fall ill or get injured abroad. There’s a common misconception about what medical cover is available when travelling abroad. In fact, research shows that one in four young people wrongly believe that the UK Government will cover their medical expenses should something go wrong overseas.

If you have an EHIC card, then you would be right in thinking that you have a certain level of medical cover available while travelling in Europe, however this does have its limitations. An EHIC card gives you access to state-provided healthcare whilst on holiday (‘temporary stays’) in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries, or Switzerland. Treatment will usually be provided either at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the EHIC only covers treatment that is medically necessary, meaning that if there’s an issue that requires more serious treatment, without a travel insurance policy in place you might be liable for expensive repatriation costs. However, the EHIC will cover you for the treatment of pre-existing medical conditions - something that might not necessarily be covered by a standard travel insurance policy, so it’s important to consider both when you’re travelling abroad.

What is normally covered under a travel insurance policy?

The level of cover included under your travel insurance policy will be entirely dependent on your insurer, so it’s important to check your policy documents before you head off to find out what’s covered. However, travel insurance will usually cover some, if not all, of the following:

Cancellation and curtailment

Cancellation and curtailment will cover the cost of your holiday should you need to cancel, or cut your holiday short. This could be for any number of reasons, such as a family member falling ill, so it’s a good idea to check with your insurer to find out which scenarios are covered.


If your flight is delayed for longer than 12 hours, then you might be able to claim back some compensation. Keep any spending receipts during the delay, and make sure the airline provides you with confirmation of the delay so you can claim back your costs from your insurer.

Baggage and belongings

This will cover you if your belongings are lost, damaged or stolen, either during transit or whilst you’re on holiday. However, there is usually a limit as to how much will be covered, so it’s worth double checking with your insurer. If you’re taking any expensive items with you, then you should also check the single article limit in the policy documents.

Personal liability

If you injure someone else whilst on holiday, personal liability cover will cover the damages should they make a claim against you, either for medical expenses or for their damaged belongings. This will be especially important if you’re undertaking any extreme sports on holiday, such as skiing or snowboarding.

Emergency assistance

Some insurance companies will offer a 24 hour emergency helpline should the unexpected happen while you’re abroad, such as illness or injury.

Medical cover

One of the most important elements of your travel insurance will be the medical cover, as this isn’t necessarily something that will be covered by your EHIC card. The medical cover section of your policy will cover the cost of medical treatment abroad, and potentially the cost of repatriation to the UK if required. It’s important to make sure you declare any pre-existing medical conditions, as these will usually be excluded by the insurer. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions and you’re planning on travelling abroad, have a plan in place should something unexpected happen.

How much does travel insurance cost?

When choosing a travel insurance policy for your holiday, there are a number of factors that a prospective insurer will factor into your quotation. As they would with most other types of insurance, they’ll likely factor in your age. Because travel insurance includes an element of medical cover, then age, as well as any pre-existing medical conditions, may affect the price of your policy.

Insurers will also consider the details of the holiday itself when providing a quotation. This will include the length of your trip, any extreme activities you might be undertaking, as well as the country that you’re travelling to.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides advice on which countries are safe for UK residents to travel to, and there may be some countries where they advise against ‘all but essential travel’ or ‘all travel.’ This would usually be applied to war and conflict zones, as well as countries suffering from civil or political unrest. The FCO will also provide information on the risk of natural disasters in certain countries, such as earthquakes, hurricanes or volcanic eruption. Doing some research on your destination country will give you an idea of the risks involved, and what sort of travel insurance cover you might need.

Equally, if you’ll be undertaking any extreme sports, then it’s important to let your insurer know so that they can factor this into your quotation. You may find that different insurers have different definitions of ‘extreme sports,’ so it’s a good idea to shop around to make sure you get the best price and cover for your trip.

An insurer will usually apply a policy limit, which will be the maximum amount they will pay out in the event of a claim for your accommodation and transport, as well as any luggage or belongings you take with you. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your holiday is fully covered so that you’re not left out of pocket in the event of a claim.

If you’re planning on taking any expensive gadgets or personal items, then it’s a good idea to remain vigilant to make sure you protect both yourself, and your belongings when travelling abroad. The sad fact is that tourists are often a target for pickpockets, as they tend to carry more cash and are less familiar with the local area. Keep an eye on your surroundings, and invest in a theft-proof bag that’ll make it difficult for an opportunist to open your bag without alerting you. If you have any particularly expensive items that you couldn’t live without, then it might be a good idea to leave them at home while you’re on your travels.

What types of travel insurance are there?

As previously mentioned, there are lots of different types of travel insurance policy, so it’s important to make sure you find the cover that’s right for you. You might want to consider one of the following:

Single trip travel insurance

Single trip travel insurance does exactly what it says on the tin – whether it’s a luxury holiday, a hike through the Himalayas or a quick city break, a single trip travel insurance policy will cover you for the duration of one trip abroad, usually up to maximum number of days. So if you only take one or two holidays a year, then this may be all the cover you’ll need. These policies will also cover you for travel to various countries, as long as it’s within a single trip.

You’ll also need to let your insurer know where you’re going, and the dates of departure and arrival back in the UK. Make sure your destination country is covered under the insurance policy, especially if it’s a ‘no travel’ zone as per the FCO website. This applies to any type of travel insurance policy, however there are specialist insurers that may be able to cover these countries, so it’s worth doing your research.

Annual multi-trip travel insurance

If you’re a regular traveller, or you’re planning on taking several trips throughout the year, then it might be worth considering annual multi-trip travel insurance. However, bear in mind that there will usually be a limit to the number of days a trip can last (Endsleigh, for example, covers each trip for up to 42 days), so check your policy documents before you head off.

Backpackers insurance

Backpacker travel insurance is very similar to single trip travel insurance, except that the policies are usually valid for between three and eighteen months, rather than the shorter duration of a single trip policy. These policies will also cover you for travel to various countries, as long as it’s within a single trip. This means you can travel far and wide across various continents without having to take out multiple insurance policies.

Winter sports travel insurance

You may find that a standard travel insurance policy won’t provide cover you for any winter sports activity, such as skiing or snowboarding. So if you’re planning on hitting the slopes over the winter months, it might be worth considering taking out a specialist winter sports insurance policy. A winter sports insurance policy may provide some, or all, of the following covers; ski school fees, lift passes and hired ski equipment, as well as off-piste skiing and mountain rescue should you need it. Check your policy to see what’s covered.

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