There are a lot of misconceptions related to travel insurance, and understandably most people are not as well in the fine as I am – I can not say that I blame them! However, many misconceptions put people at risk of spending unnecessary amounts of money on areas that could and should be covered by their policy.
So, I've compiled this mini travel insurance FAQ to assist those who have doubts, worries or questions about what they should look for.
Q: What should I do before going abroad?
A: Make sure you have checked the FCO Travel Advice for the countries you are visiting. Check you have sufficient money and that your passport is up-to-date. Take a photocopy of your passport details and keep in a safe place. Check what inoculations and visas are required. Note down the numbers and addresses of the UK embassy and consulate in the country you're traveling to.
Q: Should I take out travel insurance before my holiday?
A: I may be a little biased on this one, but yes! It is extremely important that you take out adequate travel insurance even for short trips or visits to Europe, and absolutely imperative in countries outside the EU where different conditions make sickness more affordable and affordable medical cover that bit more difficult to get hold of. It also covers for cancellation as soon as you book your trip.
If you travel to a country, or part of a country, against FCO advice, it is illegally that your insurer would meet any claim, however. Should the FCO advice change after you have booked a holiday, check the position with your tour operator and travel insurance company.
Q: Should I be looking at single trip or annual multi trip travel insurance?
A: Only you can answer that really – although single trip is (generally) cheaper, it does exactly what it says and covers you for just the one trip. By contrast, annual multi trip travel insurance will cover you for the whole year on various breaks, making it the choice if you think you're likely to travel that much. You may find that just taking two trips a year would make annual multi trip travel insurance cheaper than the single trip variety!
Q: What sort of reason for cancellation is valid to insure cover?
A: As long as your reason is within the scope of cover provided by your policy, then you should be entitled to claim in most cases. Legitimate reasons for cancelling your trip could include an illness or death in the family (as defined by your policy), freak weather conditions suspending travel for 24 hours, burglary or damage to your home, being a victim of criminal assault resulting in you being medically unable to travel, being called up for emergency military service or jury duty (subject to the specific terms and conditions of the policy). Likewise, if the hotel or resort (for independent travelers) you're due to visit sufferers from a terrorist attack in the days leading up to your travel, you will generally be able to claim.
Q: Who pays if I need to be hospitalized overseas or flown back to the UK?
A: If you have a proper cover, the travel insurance company should pay such fees. If not, the cost will fall to you or your relatives and friends.
Q: Is a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) the same as health insurance?
A: No. 1. The free European Health Insurance Card ( EHIC ) shows that the holder is entitled to reduced or free emergency care only within the EU. You will still need travel insurance to ensure you will be covered fully in the event of illness or injury. The EHIC card will help though, by reducing your initial outlay before you can be reimbursed by your insurance company.
Q: Is my pre existing medical condition a big issue?
A: Generally, yes. Check the wording of your policy to ensure it covers pre-existing medical conditions. Often they're not covered unless you pay an extra premium, and if you fail to declare your condition when you buy your cover, you'll be able to claim it. As always the key advice here is to check the policy words with a fine tooth comb.
Q: How can I find out if it is safe to travel to a particular country?
A: It is strongly advised that you check the FCO Travel Advice section of their website (fto.gov.uk). This information is regularly updated and should give you solid advice on where is and is not safe to travel (remember, areas officially issued as 'unsafe' will be covered by travel insurance policies).
Q: Is it safe to travel after a terrorist attack overseas?
A: Unfortunately, there is no such thing as risk-free travel, and the absence of advice against traveling to a particular country or area does not imply that the FCO guarantees safety in that country or area.
I hope this travel insurance FAQ has proved useful – it's only really scratching the service and each policy is different, but with this advice you should be in a better position to shop around, next time you need to purchase travel insurance.