Travel insurance – Why you need it

Travel insurance may seem like just another added cost on top of the price of your vacation, but it’s as vital to your trip as the sunshine is to the beach or the snow for a skiing holiday.

The thought of what could happen to you and the amounts of money you might have to pay if something goes wrong and you don’t have travel insurance, doesn’t bear thinking about. Repatriation from the East Coast of the United States by air ambulance, for example, can cost anything up to £45,000. Even from the Canary Islands it will cost as much as £16,000.

This article on travel insurance is written by Jackie Griffiths, a freelance journalist who writes health, medical, biological, and pharmaceutical articles for national and international journals, newsletters and web sites.

There’s no alternative

Some people travel without insurance under the illusion that the local British Embassy or High Commission will take care of them in an emergency. This may be true in the first instance, but you will still be sent the bill at the end of it all. This has to be the case, or no one would ever bother to take out travel insurance, leaving the government to carry the huge cost.

Another commonly held belief is that the EHIC will cover you when you holiday in Europe. This may be true for certain medical expenses, such as hospital charges etc, but it will not cover repatriation if you are seriously ill, or in the event of your death overseas.

Quite simply, travel insurance is an absolute must wherever you’re travelling to.

What to look for

Many holiday companies and several banks and credit cards offer free travel insurance, and for the average traveller on the average package holiday, this will probably provide adequate cover. However, it’s important you check that your policy covers your personal circumstances and everything you expect to do while you are away. Things to check for include:

  • Sports activities beyond basic holiday pastimes
  • Any dangerous ‘thrill’ activities such as paragliding or bungee jumping
  • Skiing, off-piste skiing, skating, and snowboarding
  • Driving or riding a motorbike or moped

As a general rule, you get what you pay for, and free policies are unlikely to be as comprehensive as a bespoke policy. When you consider the cost of a helicopter rescue from an off piste ski run, for example, you will soon see that a small saving on insurance could be a costly gamble.

You should make sure your travel insurance includes at least £2million for medical expenses in Europe and at least £5million for the rest of the world. Without this cover, you may find that hospitals overseas will simply refuse to treat you.

Other considerations

You must ensure your travel insurance policy covers you if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, such as heart problems, cancer, or similar illnesses. Many policies will include treatment for these for an extra fee if they’re declared in advance, but will not pay for treatment if you do not tell them. You should also inform your insurer if your health changes between purchasing your policy and going away. Most insurers will cover travel for pregnant women, but again, you should inform them when you buy your policy.

What is not covered?

Most travel insurance policies will not cover you for incidents and accidents caused by excessive drinking or drugs. No-one expects you to stay sober all holiday, but if you go too far you risk leaving yourself without cover when you need it most.

Most policies will also exclude terrorist attacks. If you’re in any doubt as to the security of the area you’re travelling to, check with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before you make your trip.

Should you get it?

The whole point of a holiday is to relax and enjoy yourself, so why add the stress of worrying about your health and welfare while you are away? Travelling without insurance is simply too big a gamble to risk just to save a few pounds on the cost of your holiday.

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Travel insurance – Why you need it