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Before you buy travel insurance

Travel insurers know that every traveller is different, and every holiday is different. Below are some of the key factors that you should consider before you buy a travel insurance policy. It is important that you answer your insurer's questions to the best of your knowledge as not doing so may lead to problems in the event that you need to make a claim.

How comprehensive?

Policies will provide cover for different eventualities, have different cover limits (the maximum an insurer will pay for a type of claim) and different levels of excess (the amount you have to pay on a claim before your insurer pays). Policies that provide more cover and/or lower excess amounts may be more expensive, but can offer greater protection.

How often do you travel?

If you travel two or more times a year, you may want to consider buying a multi-trip policy which is usually issued for a 12 month period. Single trip policies may be more cost effective, even if you travel multiple times a year, if you are an older traveller or have a medical condition.

How long are you traveling for?

Multi-trip policies often only cover a limited number of days for each trip
and may have a maximum number of days’ total travel over the course of
a year. If you are nearing the maximum number of days allowed, you can
often speak with your insurer about extending your cover

If you are about to embark on your gap year, you may want to look at backpacker travel insurance policies which are designed for travellers who are going away for a longer period of time.

Where are you going?

Different policies cover different geographic regions. Policies which include the USA tend to be more expensive due to the cost of healthcare in the USA. Be aware that your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you for travel to countries against Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office or World Health Organisation advice. Check the foreign travel advice on GOV.UK.

Are you a couple, family or group?

Discounts are sometimes available if you purchase travel insurance for a couple, family or group. Having a group policy can also make the claims process smoother as claims can be handled together. Cover is generally on a per person basis, so if you claim for multiple family/group members you may have to pay multiple excesses. Consider the level of excess you would be willing to pay before you purchase travel insurance.

What will you do on holiday?

Many but not all popular holiday activities are included as standard in travel insurance policies. Check what activities are covered. You may be able to purchase additional cover for your activity if it is not already covered. Winter sports is a common add on to travel insurance for
travellers embarking on ski or snow holidays. Similarly, you may need to purchase additional cover for cruise travel.

Do you have a medical condition?

Travel insurers pay out more on medical expenses than any other type of claim. It is very important that your insurer knows about any medical conditions that you may have. 

Most travel insurers now use a series of medical screening questions to find out about your medical conditions. You may need your GPs help with medical screening questions if you have complex medical conditions. You may find that you are not covered if you are dishonest and try to hide important details about your health.

Some insurers may quote a premium that covers your medical condition or may offer to issue you a travel insurance policy with an exclusion for costs that may come about because of your medical condition. Travelling without full medical cover is risky and could result in you having to pay a very large medical bill. A number of providers now exist that specialise in providing cover for travellers with medical conditions.

Getting help to find insurance

Sometimes your travel insurance needs may mean that you should consider getting more specialist cover. A broker can help you find the right insurance; the British Insurance Brokers’ Association has a ‘find a broker’ service to point you in the right direction.