Sorting travel insurance is often the most boring part when booking a holiday – but it’s all important if something goes wrong.
It’s been almost two years since the pandemic started, causing travel chaos. In 2020, there was a 74 per cent drop in travel abroad from the previous year, with holiday plans in tatters.
Britons made 23.8million visits abroad that year, the lowest figure since 1985 according to Office for National Statistics, meaning many might be rusty when it comes to planning holidays this year.
With so much choice, it can seem difficult to know which travel insurance policy to choose. This is Money asked experts at Defaqto the key questions as holidaymakers thaw out and gear up for more trips in 2022.
Cover questions: It’s important to have the right travel insurance – and ideally, should be booked at the same time as your holiday
Anna-Marie Duthie, travel insurance expert at Defaqto said: ‘It’s going to be interesting to see travellers’ response to almost two years of travel restrictions.’
She expects single trip insurance policies to be on the rise this year, as travellers remain optimistic but reserved about what travel restrictions could look like in the coming year.
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For families who usually jet off once, or twice a year, it’s fairly normal to choose the cheaper insurance option – however, Anna-Marie said that more could be choosing multi-trip policies for that added, last minute protection.
She said: ‘Many people having gone almost two years without a break abroad and they could well take full advantage of the current situation and opt for annual multi trip policies to cover a number of getaways making up for lost time and visits to family.’
What kind of travel insurance is right for me?
An annual policy is designed to cover all trips you take in a year, whereas a single trip policy covers just one, meaning that more people could be opting for flexibility when it comes to their travel plans.
Annual policies usually represent better value if you are travelling two or more times in a year, but it’s important your insurer knows exactly where you could be headed, even if you aren’t sure yourself.
It’s vital to ensure your insurance covers all of your travel needs and because insurers prices are based on this you want to be sure you are paying the right amount.
Anna-Marie added: ‘It is common now for travel insurance to be “included” with other products which you may have purchased, such as a packaged bank account or home insurance policy.
‘Therefore it is important before purchasing standalone travel insurance to check you do not already have cover elsewhere and that it meets your needs.’
If you’re planning some exciting holiday activities, you also need to ensure this will be covered by your travel insurance policy.
Most insurance policies will have a list of the activities which are automatically covered, but you should always confirm with your insurance provider.
Anna-Marie said: ‘If you are planning on a winter sports or cruise holiday, again not all insurers will cover these as standard. You may have to select and pay an additional premium in order to be covered.’
‘In fact, the majority of annual multi trip policies will only cover winter sports trips as an option (at 80 per cent), with 7 per cent providing no cover at all.
‘Cruise trips are more widely covered with almost half covering them as standard and a further 43 per cent covering them in return of an additional premium.
‘However less than a third of those policies covering cruises as standard, include cover for specific cruise benefits, such as cabin confinement or unused excursions at no extra cost.’
She also warns that many aspects of travel cover are optional, and may be added to your insurance for an additional premium.
She said: ‘It is important therefore to include the cover you need and when comparing quotes, ensuring you are comparing the same cover elements.’
It is also important to buy travel cover as soon as you book your trip – this is because if you need to cancel in between, you may be able to claim, depending on your insurance terms and conditions.
Many Briton’s are opting for beach holidays but it’s important your insurance covers all of the activities you’re planning when abroad
How much excess should I cover?
Most insurance policies have an excess which is usually a fixed amount of money you have to pay towards a claim you make on your insurance.
Your excess often covers things such as cancellation, medical, baggage and money, and are usually in different ‘sections’ of a policy, though if you don’t claim on your insurance while on holiday then you will not be charged the excess.
Anna-Marie said: ‘If you make a claim, travel insurers usually charge one excess for each section of the policy being claimed under.
|Excess Basis for Claim Settlement||% Of Annual Multi Trip Policies|
|One excess per claim||2%|
|One excess per person||31%|
|One excess per section per person||59%|
‘For instance, if you fell over and injured yourself, then when you arrived at hospital you discovered your handbag and purse were missing, you would claim for personal injury, lost baggage and lost money.
‘Insurers would charge one excess for each of those three parts of the claim – costing you potentially £300 or more.’
While she added that the best insurance policies should come without any additional excess in case of a claim, they are usually the ones you pay a higher premium for, adding that only one in ten policies fall within that category.
Anna-Marie said: ‘The next best policies charge one excess per claim, no matter how many policy sections or customers are claiming, but these policies are rare (only 2 per cent of the market).
‘The best policies easily available are those which charge one excess for each person who claims, irrespective of how many different things they are claiming for.
‘Most policies though (at 59 per cent) charge multiple excesses at the policy section level, rather than at the person level.
‘So, two people claiming for lost luggage, money and personal injury, could end up paying as much as six separate excesses.’
Do we need to take extra insurance precautions with Covid?
The big question on every holidaymakers lips is do we need to take extra precautions with Covid-19 when sorting our travel insurance.
Anna-Marie suggests there are a few things you should be aware of when it comes to organising your travel insurance to ensure you are covered for the right things.
COVID-19 Travel Insurance Considerations
When you are booking your Covid travel insurance, there are a few things to be aware of:
1. The countries entry requirements
Make sure you understand the entry requirements for the country you are visiting, as some still require proof of vaccination or isolation
2. Whether your policy has an unvaccinated exclusion
You should ensure you have a policy that best fits with your vaccination status to ensure you are completely covered in case of an emergency
3. The extent of Covid cover you need
The amount of coverage you have in case of Covid varies, so be sure that you understand exactly what your insurance covers
The country’s entry requirements are an important consideration when planning a trip abroad.
Some countries will require proof of a negative test, while others may still need proof of vaccination in some capacity.
So it is important that your insurer know where you are travelling to to ensure you are covered for Covid alongside the countries specific guidelines.
You should also be aware if your policy has vaccination exclusion, should you be unvaccinated.
Anna-Marie said: ‘Currently 15 per cent of annual and single trip travel policies exclude certain cover elements should you be unvaccinated against Covid where you do not have a medical reason for not having had it.’
Finally, you should consider the extent of your Covid cover, as insurance policies can vary depending on the premium.
Anna-Marie added: ‘Many insurers may have a headline of including “Covid cover,” however this may not cover the same scenarios or to the same extent as another provider using the same headline and so it is best to ensure the policy covers what you need/expect them to.
‘Almost all providers cover any medical expenses incurred as a result of a positive Covid test whilst away.
‘Three quarters of the market will cover cancellation due to a positive Covid test before travel too, but there are a few other situations which should be considered, as the extent of cover for these is quite wide ranging.
‘There are many differing scenarios that may or may not be covered across the market, for example “Covid cancellation cover” may only cover you if you need to cancel due to having a positive test and may not extend any further than that.’
|Cover Provided as Standard (%)||Annual Multi Trip||Single Trip||Extended Stay||Average|
|COVID19 Medical Covered||99||98||100||99|
|COVID19 Cancellation Positive Test||93||93||99||95|
|COVID19 Cancellation Lockdown||0||0||0||0|
|COVID19 Cancellation Isolate||53||52||31||45|
|COVID19 Cancellation FCDO Advice||2||1||2||2|
|COVID19 Cancellation Unable to Stay||63||65||78||68|
|COVID19 Cancellation Denied Board||50||48||56||51|
|COVID19 Enforced Stay Denied Board||6||6||8||7|
|COVID19 Quarantine Abroad||2||1||5||3|
|Defaqto Ltd: 16 February 2022|
She added that other policies with an additional premium will cover cancellation due to other Covid related factors such as:
- Needing to cancel due to another lockdown
- Needing to cancel because you have been told to isolate by track and trace
- If you planned to stay with family or friends at the other end, what if you cannot go because they have contracted it or are in isolation and so you have to cancel?
- You may be denied boarding on the outbound or inbound leg of the journey due to ‘suspected’ symptoms and therefore miss your transport and be unable to travel
- You may be placed into quarantine whilst abroad due to suspected ‘exposure’ to Covid and therefore not be able to return as planned
Price comparison sites are great for finding you the best travel deals – but you should make sure you are happy with the amount of excess you need to pay
How to get the best travel insurance deals
Price comparison sites are often the quickest and simplest way to sort the best travel insurance out for a price that suits you.
But, Anna-Marie recommends a few other tricks to make sure you get the best for your money.
She said that once you have booked your trip, you should sort your travel insurance out as soon as possible as ‘the sooner you book your travel policy, the sooner you have cover in place’.
You should also consider the cost of your trip should it be cancelled to decide if your travel insurance should cover a full refund.
Anna-Marie added that holidaymakers should ‘consider the cost of your trip and ensure you are buying a policy with enough cover for those expenses, for example the benefit under cancellation would cover the actual cost of the trip.
‘Similarly with other elements of cover, such as baggage, consider what you will be taking with you and whether the benefit limit would be enough to cover your items.’
She also added that its important to consider whether you actually need additional cover for some of the optional extras, as you could be paying more for cover that you won’t ever need.
‘At the same time, ensure you aren’t just adding all the optional extras which are available, but consider if you actually need them.
‘Check the basis by which the excess is being charged under the policy and ensure you understand the implications should you need to make a claim.
She also added that you shouldn’t assume insurers will pick up the tab if something goes wrong due to Covid: ‘Review the cover that the policy will give you and whether it is right for your needs.’
EHIC and GHIC: Do you need one?
There are two types of cover available to UK citizens when travelling abroad:
1. a UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC)
2. a UK European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC), if you have rights under the Withdrawal Agreement – if you still have an EHIC that’s in date, it is valid. If not, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC via the Government website.
You can use your card to access medically necessary state-provided healthcare when you’re visiting an EU country or Switzerland.
For most people, the UK UK GHIC replaces the existing EHIC for new applications and for EHIC’s that have expired.
You may be eligible for a UK GHIC if you meet one of the following criteria:
1. You’re legally living in the UK and you do not have healthcare cover provided by an EU country or Switzerland
2. You’re living in the EU or Switzerland with a registered S1, E121, E106 or E109 form issued by the UK
3. You’re living in the EU or Switzerland with an A1 document which is issued by the UK
4. You’re a family member or dependant of an entitled individual already listed
While a GHIC is useful for UK citizen who are eligible, you should still seek your own travel insurance to ensure you are fully protected.
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