What is Travel Insurance and Why do I Need It?
Travel insurance is a paid policy that is intended to protect the people covered under it from any financial problems that could occur while travelling. Things that are often included are medical expenses, in the case of accident or injury abroad, loss of equipment or personal belongings, cancelled flights and so on. The cover you get depends very much on the type of policy you pay for, and not all policies are the same.
You need it to make sure you don’t end up stranded and faced with an enormous financial payout to get home because your airline went bust, or left finding money to spend on new clothes because you went to the Bahamas but your underwear is in Japan. Of course, if you happen to be a very wealthy person with plenty of free cash, these little trivialities probably won’t bother you much. But for most mere mortals, travel insurance is more than advisable.
What types of Travel Insurance Policies are there?
Travel insurance policies are very varied and have different financial limits, policy excesses (the amount you have to pay yourself before the company takes over the rest), lengths of cover and more. It’s important to read the fine print of any policy you’re offered before you take it out, because if it doesn’t meet your needs, it may in effect be worthless.
These are some of the important aspects of travel insurance that you should be looking out for when choosing your policy:
- Length of policy: How long do you need it for? It can be cheaper to buy a year of cover rather than individual trips, but if you’re not likely to be away more than once in a year, it may not be cost effective to buy more.
- Type of cover: Do you just want general and medical insurance, which could be fine for a beach holiday for example. If you’re planning on trying something a little more extreme (mountaineering, scuba diving, skiing, free-diving with sharks etc) your insurance probably won’t cover you unless you pay a premium. And if you don’t pay that premium and have an accident, they won’t pay out.
- Location for cover: Some cover can be take out for domestic travel only. If you’re going further afield, make sure you’ve got the right policy. Europe and Worldwide are two that are popular options.
- Amount of excess: In the unfortunate event that you have a problem, most policies will require you to pay an excess before they pay the remainder. If your excess is a small amount then you won’t be forking out too much in a lump sum, but you may find that your premiums are a little higher.
- Amount of financial cover for property: There’s no point taking out cover for your belongings and equipment that’s less than the value of your property. If you have expensive items with you, such as your cameras, skis and so on, you will pay a little extra to cover their loss or theft, but it’ll be worth it in the event of a claim.
- Ease of Use: Choose a travel insurance group that you’re happy with. You need to know that they can be easily contacted in an emergency, from anywhere in the world. Your policy (if it’s worldwide) should include an international phone number at the very least. Find out how simple their claims procedure is to avoid any holiday hassle if you need to call on them.
Where can I buy Travel Insurance?
Travel companies will often offer insurance as part of the holiday you book through them, but bear in mind that should they go bust you won’t be getting a refund on either your holiday or your insurance policy. A good place to look is online, and by shopping around you can probably find a few really good bargains that will give you great cover for a reasonable price. Don’t always interpret cheap as good though – make sure that even through you’re paying a little less, you’re not getting less cover in return.