YOU'VE scrimped and saved all year and at last your summer holiday is nearly here.
And after packing your bags and jetting off for a much needed slice of sea and sun, the last thing you want is your holiday to be ruined by falling ill or an accident.
But if something does go wrong, travel insurance is there to pick up up your bill.
In fact, with the average cost of medical treatment now costing Brits over £1,300 according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) – and it's not uncommon for some bills to run into the tens of thousands – you'd be taking a huge risk to travel abroad without having sorted your insurance.
Here's what you need to know:
What is travel insurance and what does it cover?
Like all insurance policies, travel insurance is there to help you when something goes wrong.
Have your bags been lost or stolen? Had to cancel your trip before you set foot on the plane? Had to get medical treatment while on holiday and the bills are sky high?
All these problems are covered by typical travel insurance polices, so you won't be left out of pocket if your holiday is spoiled.
As most policies will provide cover if you have to cancel your trip because of unforeseen circumstances, it's worth you taking out your policy as soon as you book your holiday too.
Do I need travel insurance if I have an EHIC card?
THE EHIC currently entitles Brits to free or discounted medical care when on holiday in all 28 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
But while EHIC is worth having for the extra protection – some insurers will waive any excess you have to pay if you use you use the card – you shouldn't totally rely on it.
Even with the card, you might have to pay for some of your medical bills if that's how the local system works, and it won't cover the costs of getting you back home if you are taken very seriously ill when you're abroad – which can be extremely expensive.
You can apply for an EHIC card for free by visiting the official website – the card needs to be renewed every five years.
What isn't covered by travel insurance?
When it come to deciding which insurance to buy, it's important to remember that all policies have different inclusions and exclusions, so you'll need to a bit of research to make sure it offers you the right level of cover.
For example, cover for lost or stolen bags might be an additional extra, which you'll have to pay more for with some policies.
Generally there are a few things that aren't always covered.
Adventure and winter sports most likely won't be covered by standard polices so you'll have to take out additional or specialist cover instead.
Cover for events such as strikes, acts of terrorism and earthquakes is also typically excluded too.
If you're over 65 or have an ongoing medical condition, you might need to take out specialist insurance.
When looking for cover make sure you answer the questions about your health honestly – otherwise you risk invalidating your policy.
Should I get a single or multi-trip policy?
If you're lucky enough to be having at least two holidays in a year, then it can often work out cheaper for you to take out an annual policy instead of taking out a single policy for each trip you take.
Comparison website MoneySuperMarket says frequent travellers making three trips in 12 months, can save up to a third (33 per cent) with an annual policy, when compared to taking out three individual policies for each trip.
If you are buying an annual policy, make sure you know how long you can be away for on each trip.
Although you'll get cover for an unlimited amount of trips, some insurers will cap the amount of time you can be on holiday for, usually around 31 days.
If you're planning on being away for longer than that on a backpacking trip, you'll need to look specialist backpacking insurance.
What should you look for in a good travel insurance policy?
TRAVEL insurance policies can vary a great deal, but here are some 'must have' features you should look out for from the Money Advice Service.
- Medical expenses – A good policy will give cover of £1million or more for travel in Europe and £2million or more for the USA
- Repatriation service – The costs of getitng you back to the UK for medical reasons should be covered automatically by your policy
- Cancellation and curtailment – A good policy will cover you for £2,000 or more if you have to cancel or shorten your holiday
- Missed departure – Covers additional accommodation costs and travel expenses up to £500 or more if you miss your flight due to circumstances out of your control
- Delay – You'll usually be covered for £250 or more if your travel plans are delayed due to circumstances out of your control
- Baggage cover – Covers you if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Look for policies that have cover of £1,500 or more.
What are the cheapest travel insurance policies?
These are some of the cheapest "no-frills" annual insurance polices, according to MoneySavingExpert.
They are based on a traveller being aged between 18 and 35, with no pre-existing medical conditions.
Remember to check your policy very carefully – if you want additional cover you'll have to pay more.
- Coverwise Bronze – Apply Here
European cover: from £8.69
Worldwide cover: from £19.20
- Leisure Guard Lite – Apply Here
European cover: from £14.99
Worldwide cover: from £34
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