Is travel insurance worth bothering with?

You’ve shelled out on flights, accommodation, activities, and probably saved hard to put together a decent spending budget for your upcoming vacay. But after forking out all that money, there’s one cost that many people either forget about or choose to completely ignore.

In fact the proportion of Brits that head off on their hols with the wrong type of insurance, take part in activities their insurance doesn’t cover, or simply don’t bother with any travel insurance whatsoever stands at almost 40%. Today we’re running through some of the biggest misconceptions about travel insurance, why it’s a necessity, and how to get the best cover.

Isn’t travel insurance a waste of money?

Sure, it can be hard to stomach handing over your hard earned cash for a service you genuinely hope to never have to use and more than likely won’t have to. But travel insurance shouldn’t be looked at as an optional luxury.

There are various different levels of cover you can buy. The top ones will pay out for things like trip cancellation and lost luggage. But even if you go for a plan that doesn’t cover the extras, your health isn’t something to play around with.

There are endless horror stories of people who have fallen ill or injured themselves overseas without insurance and the resulting bills have left them in life changing amounts of debt, and even prevented from leaving the country until they’re settled. Put simply, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

But I’m covered by my EHIC in Europe, right?

If you’re from a European country, you’ve likely heard of, and probably hold, an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). Unfortunately, the false belief that it will cover people for all medical costs is the main reason many travellers don’t bother with insurance within Europe.

In reality it entitles you to state medical care on the same basis of the residents of the country you’re visiting. So what does this actually mean? Well many countries in Europe require their residents to pay a percentage of their medical costs, something you’ll also be liable for. It also means that if you get taken to a private facility you’ll be responsible for all associated costs, which can quickly add up.

Another misconception about the EHIC is that when you have one, there’s no need to bother with insurance. The NHS website actually states “The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance” and specifically recommends you also invest in insurance. Another consideration to bear in mind is that you get no cover for your property or anything other than medical concerns with your EHIC. Lost luggage really will be lost.

Finally, Brexit is more than likely going to have an impact on any UK issued EHIC. While we don’t know the exact effects yet, if you have any travels planned after October 31st, do take this into consideration.

It’s cool, I get free insurance through my bank account

Lots of banks offer free travel insurance with certain accounts, a fantastic perk. However, it’s vital that you check exactly what it covers your for, and more importantly, where. Free insurance policies tend to be extremely limited and will often exclude certain countries or even continents from their cover.

Even if you’re planning on taking part in activities as seemingly innocuous as cycling or hiking, you might not be covered. And things like jumping on a banana boat or riding a quad bike will almost certainly be out of the question.

Read the small print, and if in doubt give them a call to discuss where you’re going, what you’re planning on doing and what restrictions they have.

Tips for buying the right travel Insurance

  • Don’t just go for the cheapest policy - try and find a balance between the level of cover provided and excesses you’ll be required to pay.

  • Check what’s covered - make sure the country you’re heading to is included as well as any activities you may be doing.

  • Consider a yearly plan - if you’re a bit of a jetsetter and head multiple times a year an annual plan may provide better value.

  • Buy insurance separately - you’ll often get offered it when you book your flights or accommodation but it’s not gonna be the cheapest or best cover. Go for a reputable specialist broker or insurance company instead.

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