1. Cheaper is not always better
When purchasing travel insurance, many people will go directly to comparison sites and find the cheapest options they can. However, many of the cheaper options will often exclude important cover for unexpected situations, or have very small limits on the amount they will pay out. The danger of buying cheap travel insurance is being caught out when you need your insurance most and having to actually pay much more than if you had purchased a policy that fully protects you in the first instance.
TIP: Carefully check what levels of cover are provided. It’s important to ensure you are honest with your insurance broker or insurer so you can be confident you are fully protected. Don’t buy the cheapest policy only to find you’ll be paying more if things don’t go to plan.
2. Cancellation cover
There may come a time where things are out of your control and something we may fear with our holiday is cancellations. A good travel insurance policy will cover you for cancellations, including those cancelled in advance, meaning you won’t have to worry about losing money or missing out on a holiday completely. You should check the amount of cancellation cover your policy offers and make sure it is enough to cover the full cost of your holiday.
TIP: Prioritise your travel insurance and buy this as soon as you’ve booked your holiday. This will ensure you are covered should something unexpected occur, resulting in you having to cancel your trip.
3. Baggage cover
It is important to note that baggage cover is limited on travel policies, not all are the same and it’s important to check the policy wording. Most policies will limit cover for fragile items and items stolen from motor vehicles. All thefts must be reported to local police and, if baggage is damaged in transit, a Property Irregularity Report must be obtained. Usually following any claim made, a deduction will be made for wear, tear and depreciation.
TIP: Always check to see if your personal belongings are covered within your contents insurance when travelling, and if so, removing this from your travel insurance might cut a small amount off the cost of your travel insurance. Wider cover is available under personal possession extension of a typical household policy.
4. Airline or travel agent failure
The thought of an airline going bust when you’ve just booked your holiday would probably not even cross your mind – but unfortunately this does happen. For example, 2008 saw 4 airlines go out of business and in 2016 the well-known travel company Low Cost Holidays followed suit. Being stranded abroad when your airline goes bust would probably be rather terrifying, likewise with losing all of your holiday money to a recently bankrupt travel company. One thing to be sure of when booking your holiday is to check that the airline or travel company is ATOL protected (for flights or package holidays) or ABTA protected (for holidays that exclude travel by air) to ensure you have financial protection should a company go out of business.
TIP: If you are purchasing flights or a holiday worth £100 - £30,000, buy this on a credit card if possible. This will give you extra financial security under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act as UK law will protect your right to a refund when faced with a breach of contract.
5. What if you miss your flight?
Do your best not to! Many insurance companies won’t pay out the cost of new flights if you were to miss your original flight. Some may request evidence that you left your home in plenty of time, which can be very difficult to prove, or they may specify time frames in which the claim needs to be made if you are to miss your flight.
TIP: Aim to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight – or earlier if you have a longer journey to make. It’s better to be waiting in the airport, looking around duty-free or having some food before your flight than to be rushing in with minutes to spare.
6. Hiring a car
Many people like to hire a car when abroad - it's a great way of exploring the area. If you are considering car hire you should consider is what is included in the hire car costs and make sure you have adequate protection. Basic cover is Collision Waiver. Some travel policies include a small amount of excess recovery, usually £250 but a separate standalone insurance policy for this purpose is best. The hire company may also ask for a check code to view your driving record, so make sure you have one prior to traveling that will remain valid during your trip.
TIP: Familiarise yourself with local road rules before travelling. You might have sorted your insurance out, but road rules vary between countries. Remember, most countries drive on the right hand side of the road!
7. Check age restrictions and medical condition cover
You may think all insurance companies will be able to cover you for all your requirements, but this is not necessarily true. Some insurers restrict their travel insurance coverage by age and medical history, so always be sure you have the right levels of cover you need. The last thing you need on holiday is to find you are not covered for medical treatment of an existing or pre-existing medical condition and have to pay a small fortune to receive medical treatment while abroad.
TIP: Be honest! Insurance companies have the right to access your medical records in certain circumstances. It’s better to pay slightly more for age or medical condition cover up front than have to pay what can sometimes be thousands of pounds if you need emergency treatment for existing or pre-existing conditions while travelling.
8. Have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
An EHIC card is free to apply for and generally available for residents of the UK. The EHIC card gives you the right to healthcare if you are travelling to another European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. The EHIC will often reduce the cost of treatment or your travel insurance excess, or in some cases will allow you to receive treatment for free. An EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance and is not valid on cruises.
TIP: When travelling, always keep your EHIC card on you as you would need to present this if you require treatment. This, and your travel insurance policy, will minimise your costs should you need treatment abroad.
9. Check limits before you purchase insurance
If you decide to take valuables with you such as expensive cameras, phones, laptops and tablets you will need to ensure these are covered under your insurance. Some insurance policies cap the amount they will pay out on certain items including: medical cover, cancellation cover, baggage, personal money and single item cover.
TIP: Double check all limits and make sure these will cover the cost if you need to make a claim. Check single item cover is enough for your most expensive valuable and cancellation cover will cover the cost of your whole holiday.
10. Choose the right insurance policy
If you are only planning on one holiday or trip away within a 12 month period, then single trip insurance is the best option. However, if you have many trips away within 12 months, then it would probably be more cost effective purchasing an annual multi trip policy to cover you for all travel within a 12 month period.
TIP: Discuss multi trip policies with your insurance broker or insurer and receive the right level of protection for your travels. Make sure you are covered for the places you are visiting, the length of time you are going for each time and the activities you will be participating in while travelling.
Before packing your suitcase, lay all your belongings you intend to take with you out on the bed and take a photo. This way, if your luggage is lost or stolen and you need to make a claim, the photo should help as proof of ownership for the items you are claiming for. Just remember to check your policy limits and avoid taking valuables that are not covered.
At Higos, we have a dedicated travel team to help find you the right cover for your requirements, to give you peace of mind that you are fully protected when travelling. We also have a dedicated claims team on your side should you need to make a claim, relieving the unwanted stress and hassle that this can bring.
For more information on the right travel insurance policy for you, please don’t hesitate to contact our experienced travel insurance team directly on 01458 270374.