What is travel insurance?

Important: As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and current Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance against all but essential travel.

A travel insurance policy protects you against the cost of potential problems when travelling. A good policy will cover you for: cancellation, lost luggage, delayed flights, stolen property, illness and injury.

Sometimes, travel insurance is called ‘holiday insurance’. You don’t legally need it to travel, but it could help you out financially if something happened while you were away.

Always get travel insurance before you go away

If you end up with problems when you’re travelling, you might have to fork out a lot of money.

For example, if you fell ill overseas, your medical bill could run into the tens of thousands of pounds or more. So you should never travel without buying a good travel insurance policy first. It would pay out for costs such as medical expenses.

Before you buy your policy, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting the right cover for your trip. Once you’ve chosen your type of travel insurance, compare quotes from different companies. Then choose the best holiday insurance at the best price.

Here’s everything you need to know about travel insurance.

Where can I get cheap travel insurance?

It’s important to find the best travel insurance for your needs, rather than just searching for cheap travel insurance. That’s because, in some cases, cheap holiday insurance might not cover you for what you need.

The best thing to do is compare holiday insurance. First, find the right type of insurance for your needs, and then do a travel insurance comparison. Pick the best travel insurance quote that meets your needs.

Single trip travel insurance or annual travel insurance?

There are two main types of travel insurance to choose between. You’ll need to think about what’s right for your needs, and the costs.

Single trip travel insurance. This covers you for one trip, to just one location, for a specific period of time

Annual travel insurance. This covers you for every trip you make during a 12-month period. It’s often called multi trip travel insurance. This kind of insurance costs more.

The best policy for you will depend on how often you travel. If you’re only going on one holiday in the next year, it’s a good idea to get single trip travel insurance. But, if you travel more often, an annual travel insurance could work out much cheaper in the long run.

Here’s how to choose between single trip travel insurance or annual travel insurance.

Do I need worldwide travel insurance?

This depends on where you’re going. With some travel insurance, Europe is the only place you’re covered to travel.

Other policies offer worldwide travel insurance so you can travel wherever you like. Worldwide travel insurance can either include or exclude the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.

Declare your medical conditions

When you get travel insurance, pre-existing conditions must be declared. You’ll need to share information about these when get your holiday insurance quotes and apply for a policy.

If you don’t declare your medical conditions, you won’t be able to claim on your holiday insurance if you fall ill as a result of your condition. For example, if you didn’t tell your insurer about your angina and then suffered a heart attack while on holiday, your policy wouldn’t pay out.

That’s why it’s important to be as open and honest as you can when you sort out travel medical insurance.

You might like to find specialist cover for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Here’s how to get travel insurance with medical conditions.

What exactly does travel insurance cover me for?

When you buy travel insurance, you should check your policy very carefully as they’re all different.

Typically, holiday travel insurance might cover you for:

Cancellation and delay: Cover for cancellations, delays or cutting your trip short.

Baggage and belongings: Cover for if your luggage or belongings are lost, stolen or damaged. Check the amount you’re covered for.

Medical: Cover for if you’re injured or ill while away and have to seek medical attention.

Emergency assistance: Cover for if you need to be brought back to the UK.

Personal liability: Cover for if you injure someone or damage their belongings.

Many policies don’t cover you for things like:

extreme sports

natural disasters


pre-existing medical conditions

alcohol-related accidents.

Do you need extra protection or a specialist policy?

Not all activities are covered on every holiday insurance policy. So, depending on what you’ll be doing while you’re away, you might need to add extra cover for activities aren’t included as standard.

You can tailor your policy with extras such as:

Extreme and winter sports cover. This is for accidents that happen while you take part in sports such as skiing or snowboarding. You might see this being called ski travel insurance.

Business cover. Cover for if you’re travelling on business.

Golf cover. Covers your golfing equipment and other associated costs.

You can also get specialist policies including:

Travel insurance for seniors: This is for older people who are statistically more likely to need medical treatment.

Pre-existing medical conditions: Travel health insurance for people with diagnosed health conditions.

Cruise travel insurance: Cruise insurance for incidents such as cabin confinement or missed port.

Backpacker travel insurance: If you’re going away for longer, such as on your gap year, you can find backpacker insurance policies.

Family travel insurance: If you’re travelling as a family, this can be a good way to save on the costs as it covers all of you.

When should you buy travel insurance?

It’s best to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday. That way you’ll be covered if something happens that means you can’t go, or you’re delayed. This could include illness, or weather disruptions – but check your policy carefully to see what you’re covered for. If you’re not insured, you won’t be able to claim.

Remember that with travel insurance, you’ll usually have to pay for any costs yourself, and your insurer will pay you back later when you claim. So don’t forget to keep receipts and bills to prove what you paid for.

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