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Travel insurance features

Not all travel insurance policies are the same. Despite these differences, there are a number of key cover areas that you are likely to find in many travel insurance policies. Always check your travel insurance policy to see what cover it includes, what it doesn’t include (exclusions) and shop around for the right level of cover for you.

Medical cover

Overseas medical cover is possibly the single most important part of a travel insurance policy due to the potentially high cost of medical treatment and repatriation if you are injured or fall ill abroad. This should typically include:

  • Emergency medical treatment costs, including hospital charges and ambulance fees
  • Returning you home following medical treatment abroad if you cannot use your original ticket
  • Reasonable additional transport and/or accommodation expenses for a close relative or friend to stay with you
  • or travel from the UK to escort you if required
  • 24 hour assistance helplines to offer support and advice about appropriate treatment.

You may not be covered if:

  • You withhold details of your medical history from your travel insurer.
  • Your medical costs are related to dangerous and/or illegal activities, excessive alcohol, and/or misuse of alcohol. This includes inappropriately mixing alcohol with medication use.

Cancelling or cutting short your holiday

Travel insurance can cover your costs if you need to cancel or cut short your holiday. A common reason for needing to cancel or cut short your holiday is if you fall ill, or you have a close family member fall ill or die unexpectedly, either before you travel or while you are on your trip. Your policy may only cover you for cancelling or cutting short your holiday under limited circumstances, check your policy.

Before cancelling your holiday, talk to your travel agent, tour operator or airline about options that may be available for you to reschedule.

You may not be covered if:

  • You know of a reason why you might need to cancel your holiday (such as the ill health of a relative) and you didn’t check cover with your insurer.
  • You want to cancel your holiday because you are unsure about the safety of a region but there has been no official advice against travelling to that region.

You may however be able to transfer your travel insurance policy to a new destination.

Travel delays and disruptions

Travel insurance can come to the rescue if you miss your scheduled transport, or face delays or cancellation. This can include cover for replacement transport and costs while you're waiting for a delayed departure at an airport, port, train or bus station.

It is a good idea to check with your airline, travel agent or tour operator before you claim on insurance. If you are travelling within the European Union (EU) or with an EU based airline, and your flight is cancelled or delayed, you may be entitled to compensation from the airline under EU regulations.

You may not be covered if:

  • Your delay is relatively short. Many travel insurance policies will not cover delays shorter than a specified length of time, check your policy
  • You sleep in or get stuck in traffic. Many travel insurance policies will not cover situations which are reasonably within your control. Leave plenty of time to get to your departure point.

Baggage and belongings

Travel insurance can cover you for lost or stolen baggage and personal possessions, and the costs you may incur to replace a passport. It is also a good idea to check whether your home contents insurance or your gadget insurance provides cover for belongings that you take overseas.

Travel insurance policies offer different cover limits for different types of belongings. There will usually be a maximum amount you can claim for any one item and also a maximum amount in total for valuables. Always check your policy.

If you need to make a claim, you may be expected to provide receipts or other proof of ownership for your lost or stolen possessions. An insurer may also require a police report.

You may not be covered if:

  • You leave belongings unattended and you haven’t taken steps to ensure they are secure and out of sight. Keep money on your person or locked away.
  • Your valuables go missing from checked in baggage. You should carry valuables, including laptops, phones and gadgets, on your person or in your hand luggage unless prohibited by the airline.

Personal liability and legal expenses

Travel insurance can provide cover if you accidentally cause an injury to someone or damage their property and they choose to sue you. It can also help you pursue compensation or damages if you get injured from an accident. This can be particularly important in countries without a legal aid system.

You may not be covered if:

  • You admit liability or make an offer to pay before talking to your insurer
  • Events were related to dangerous and/or illegal activities, excessive alcohol, and/or misuse of alcohol. This includes inappropriately mixing alcohol with medication use.