There are many different types of travel insurance policies. They cover the traveler for different lengths of time, for different areas of the world, and insure a bewildering a variety of different things. How can one sort out this maze?
Single Trip or Annual Policy?
Annual travel policies cover the traveler for every trip he or she takes in a year. Single trip policies are simply for one trip or holiday. For those who go away more than once a year, annual policies usually work out cheaper. When working this out, one needs to consider the possibility of weekends away as well as the main vacations. These all add up, and often the annual policy is worth having.
Europe or Worldwide Cover?
For those who are only taking a vacation in Europe it is cheaper not to get worldwide cover, and Europe-only insurance cover is significantly cheaper. However, if the traveler is going further afield, it is essential to be covered despite the cost, as in places like the USA medical expenses can be extremely high.
Specialist Policies or Activities
For those going away for long periods, such as a ‘gap year’ trip, it is probably essential to look for a specialist policy, since most annual insurance policies have a limit on the length of each trip, usually around 30 days
For travellers who plan to do ‘adventurous’ activities, such as skiing or hang gliding, a specialist insurance policy may be required. Some ordinary insurance companies do offer winter sports cover, but one may have to pay extra. For more extreme activities, it is worth checking if one can pay an extra premium to cover them, particularly if it is only for a short period of time. This is sometimes cheaper than an annual insurance policy with a specialist company.
Only Get the Cover Needed
Sometimes policies offer different amounts of cover. It is not worth paying for cover one does not need; for example, large amounts of baggage cover if the traveler is not taking away anything valuable. Sometimes it is cheaper to insure valuables along with one’s household insurance, so it is worth checking. Experts recommend £1 million of medical cover in Europe, or £2 million in the rest of the world. They also suggest personal liability cover of at least £1 million, £1,500 baggage cover, and £3,000 cancellation insurance. But a good rule of thumb is not to buy what is not required.
Checking to See if One is Already Covered
Some banks offer free travel insurance with certain accounts, so for those who have one of these, there is no point in paying twice so long as what one needs is actually covered. However, the travel accident insurance offered by some credit card companies only covers the individual in certain very specific circumstances, so one should not rely on it.
Finally, the individual should be upfront about any medical conditions or similar things, as otherwise the policy could be invalidated.
Once the traveler has adequate insurance cover, he or she can go on that planned holiday safely, knowing that if anything goes wrong at least there should not be an expensive bill to be paid. And this peace of mind is at least as important as the good feeling one gets after a restful and relaxing holiday.