When it comes to travel insurance I’m usually one of those people who leaves it to the last minute, and ends up trying to book something a few hours before I fly, while all my clothes are scattered on the floor and I’m having a panic about sorting everything out in time. But I’m trying to change and be a little more organized.
Firstly if you are of UK, EEA or Swiss nationality you can apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), basically this card entitles the holder to medical treatment in state run hospitals in EEA countries, at the same cost as a local. Though please be aware you must have this card with you. You can apply online for the card or call 0845 606 2030. Please do use the official sites, as some other sites will charge you for applying. I know some of you may have specific questions about the card and your suitability for it, so please check out this useful NHS site The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance as it doesn’t cover things such as private medical costs or lost and stolen items, so you should get both.
You may be entitled to free cover. Many banks offer free travel insurance packages, be sure to check with your bank, there may be certain conditions you have to meet in order to get the insurance, for example putting a certain amount of money into your account per month. With these policies as with all insurance policies be sure to CHECK the fine print, for example trip length may be limited, if it is a joint account check that all the named persons are covered and certain activities may be excluded e.g. scuba diving.
I have recently taken out an annual travel insurance policy as I’m making quite a few trips this year and for me it works out cheaper. Generally if you are making two to three trips a year an annual policy is likely to be better for you. The money saving expert forum has a great tool which calculates which kind of policy would be most suitable for you based on your travel plans
Travel Insurance for areas the FCO advises not to travel to can get pretty complicated, I have not had any experience of this myself and am not an authority on this, but have done some research and called a couple of providers and can offer the following advice. Due to warnings from the FCO an airline or holiday company may cancel a flight/trip, if that happens they will be responsible for refunding your money back, however if you cancel a flight/trip because you are worried about going to a certain destination and there is no FCO warning you will not be entitled to make a claim. If the FCO have advised not to travel to a destination most insurance companies won’t cover you, there are exceptions though as long as you don’t take exceptional risks, though understandably these policies will cost more. Direct Travel will cover you as long as the claim isn’t related to warnings on the FCO website. For example if the warning was related to civil unrest you couldn’t claim anything related to that. You will need to check the details of the cancellation cover on your policy to see whether you are covered if an FCO warning is issued for a certain country, Direct travel does offer this cover “if after the time you booked your trip or purchased your policy, whichever is the later, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to your intended destination”.
One issue I always have with travel insurance is covering my camera. I have a Canon DSLR, most travel insurance policies don’t cover the value of it. So in order to cover my camera I use photoguard insurance. My camera is insured with them anyway, so I usually just call them before I travel and extend the cover to overseas for the duration of my trip.
With all insurance policies I would say, read the fine print, check what you are covered for, tell your insurance provider about any pre-existing conditions you have, compare policies and check your insurance provider is authorised by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).
I guess the real test of a policy is the claiming, which you hope you will not have to do. However if you do find yourself in the position of having to make a claim always make sure you have a copy of the policy with you along with a local and overseas telephone claim number. Though if you have taken into consideration some of these tips I’m sure the whole process will be a little easier.
* Please be aware I DO NOT work for an insurance company and details can change all the time. My advice is a guideline for you and I would recommend complementing it with your own research. Please feel free to message me with any updates.