The summer holiday season is fast approaching and can't arrive soon enough for most of us - we're counting down the days to leaving Blighty behind and enjoying a well deserved cold beer on some far away beach. Travel insurance is often an afterthought and something that some people still choose to travel without. While the chances of having a serious accident or illness while on holiday may be low, travel insurance offers protection and reassurance in many other ways.
If You Can't Go
We recommend booking travel insurance as soon as your holiday is booked, no matter how far away it it. Why? Because an accident or illness is far more likely to happen to you or a loved one before you travel than during your holidays. Similarly a change in your employment situation may mean you either cannot afford to go on holiday or your new employer will not give you the time off.
Holiday operators and airlines are not obliged to refund you in the event that you are unable to go on vacation but most travel insurance policies (those that include cancellation cover) will cover you in these unfortunate situations.
If You're Just Plain Unlucky
Volcanoes erupting, terrorist attacks, strikes by French farmers and Spanish Air Traffic Controllers - just some of the reasons your holiday plans can be thrown into chaos. Severe delays and prolonged disruptions are usually covered by insurance if you need to change your travel plans, cancel them completely or pay for extra nights accommodation while travelling.
If You Have An Accident Or Cause One
We've all heard about some unlucky traveller who's fallen off a moped, fallen into an empty swimming pool or being bitten by a camel (it's more common than you think!). In Europe, basic healthcare is available via European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) but anywhere else in the world you will need to have travel insurance in place to avoid eye-watering bills in the event of an accident or illness. There are countless horror stories of Britons coming back from their travels with hundreds of thousands of pounds of hospital bills from the USA and other countries.
The Personal Liability cover provided by most travel insurance policies can also be a lifesaver in the event you have caused an accident.
The Costs Of Travel Insurance
Thankfully, travel insurance is cheap. A family of four can buy travel insurance for as little as £10 for a 2-week holiday in Spain or Portugal. Thats less than 25p per person per day while you are away. Not a lot of money for a lot of peace of mind as it comes with medical cover of up to £2million pounds and covers up to £1,000 of lost or damaged baggage. Individual cover starts at £4 with some insurers.
We never recommend choosing insurance based on the price below. Like all insurance policies, travel insurance varies a lot between providers and policies. Make sure you read the details of each policy and find the one that suits you best. A good solid policy would cover you for medical expenses (at least £2m), personal liability (£1m), cancellation cover for your holiday, lost or stolen baggage and cash, the bankruptcy of your airline, hotel or tour operator and cover for delayed flights. The excess on the policy should ideally be less than £100.
You will also need to choose between "single trip" and "annual insurance." If you tend to take 1 big holiday per year then go for the single trip option but if you will likely take 2 or more holidays or weekend breaks in the next 12 months we'd recommend annual cover. It will work out cheaper.
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