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Travel Insurance: What you Need to Know

By: Ian Youngman - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
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You take time and trouble deciding where to go on holiday. So why risk ruining the experience? Failure to take out travel insurance can turn the holiday dream into a costly financial nightmare.

The Risk

There are risks of theft, injury, illness and delay. On holiday we increasingly take part in adventurous activities from hill walking to bungee jumping. Covering the cost of treatment abroad can be very expensive. If something happens, who do you turn to?

The Cover

Travel insurance is a package of covers designed to protect you from a variety of adverse events that could occur while you are on holiday:
  • Medical emergency and/or repatriation expenses if you are ill or injured
  • Compensation if your trip is cancelled or curtailed due to circumstances beyond your control
  • Loss or damage to your personal possessions and baggage
  • Loss or theft of money
  • Expenses incurred by a delayed departure
  • Expenses of replacing a lost passport
  • Legal expenses and personal liability cover in the case of an accident where you cause injury or damage to others
  • Compensation if you suffer permanent disability or death whilst on holiday.
Most policies include a 24-hour multilingual help line

Often these areas of cover are subject to specified limits and excesses, so you will need to read your policy document carefully to check how much you are covered for and what, if any excess you would need to pay in the event of a claim.You can buy travel insurance for a single trip or an annual policy for all trips taken in the year.

The Cost

The price your tour operator or travel agent offers is usually higher than what is available elsewhere. Holiday operators sometimes insist you must take out their own insurance. You cannot refuse if it is a condition of taking the holiday. But, the travel agent or operator cannot make every holiday offer conditional upon buying travel insurance and you cannot be charged extra if you want to buy it elsewhere.

There is a huge range of products available so it pays to shop around for the best cover and value for money to suit your needs. You can buy travel insurance from insurers, insurance brokers, banks, the post office, and supermarkets.

Some things which can affect price, and if you do not tell the insurer, they may not pay your claim;

  • Existing medical conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • History of claims
  • Adventurous activities e.g. scuba diving or off-piste skiing
  • Aged over 65
Many insurers have increased the age limit to 70 or over. There are also specialist insurers for older people.

Reciprocal Arrangements

If you are a UK resident you are entitled to free, or reduced cost, state provided healthcare when visiting a European Union (EU) country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. To be covered you must take a completed E111 form and European Health Insurance Card , which you can get, free of charge, from Post Offices.

But ;

  • Few countries pay the full cost of medical treatment
  • You often have to pay for medicines and beds
  • Extra travel, accommodation and repatriation costs are not covered

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