You wouldn’t dream of going abroad without sunscreen to protect your family’s skin from damaging UV rays. However, leaving your loved ones without the protection of travel insurance can have much more serious consequences…
Living in the UK, the benefits of the National Health Service mean that, for the most part, we don’t have to worry about medical expenses. Whether we need treatment for a long-term illness or suffer an accident which requires immediate medical attention at A&E, the costs are covered. But the same cannot be said upon leaving the country: when travelling outside of the UK, medical treatment and care is not free.
If, for instance, you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a serious car accident whilst abroad and end up in hospital, you could owe millions of pounds once you recover. With this in mind, and factoring in that it also tends to cover you for other eventualities including holiday cancellation, theft, and more, travel insurance should be viewed as a holiday essential – not a luxury or last minute add-on.
Different Levels Of Cover In A Nutshell
No two holidays are the same; no two travel insurance packages are the same, either. Depending on the level of cover you go for, travel insurance can cover you for a range of different eventualities to varying extents – with medical being viewed as the most important, and scenarios such as theft being less paramount.
When looking for cover, consider the following:
- Policy prices and cover will vary so it is important to do your research, but the most basic insurance should cover you for flight delays, cancellations, your luggage and personal possessions, medical treatment, emergency help, and personal liability.
- If you are pregnant, you can normally get insurance up until around 24 weeks of pregnancy. However, existing medical conditions that you already know about may not be covered unless you opt for a specialist policy.
- Whether you are planning to kayak in rapids or rock climb in the wilderness, be sure to check for exclusions in your travel insurance; not all activities will be covered by all travel insurance packages. Likewise, be aware that there is special cover available for winter sports holidays, which are deemed as slightly more dangerous than beach holidays, for example.
- Older travellers may want to consider a specialist insurer to avoid paying excessive premiums or being rejected completely; age is a factor which determines the cost of your travel insurance.
Can I use my European Health Insurance Card instead?
If you’re travelling to Europe and have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this does not necessarily mean that you don’t need to invest in personal travel insurance. Whilst the card does entitle you to medical treatment within the EU and a few other countries, the level of care that you will receive is limited. You will be given the same rights as citizens of the country in question: so if they pay for their own medical care, so will you.
What’s more, you will only be eligible for treatment in state facilities – even if their standards are exceptionally low. Given the high standards within UK hospitals, many people prefer to receive treatment at home. Known as repatriation, whereby you are returned to your country of origin, your EHIC will not cover you for this cost: travel insurance, on the other hand, will.
Good to know…
When choosing travel insurance, you will have to decide how much you want to pay towards a claim that you make – known as the excess. The higher this amount, the lower your premium is likely to be. You do need to be careful, however, of excesses mounting up as some insurers charge you separately for individual incidences. So, for instance, if you need to claim for medical fees due to a broken leg as well as personal losses resulting from a mugging, you may have to pay the excess twice. In contrast, some travel insurance policies will only charge you the excess once, treating all incidences as one claim.
Most policies will either cover you for travel to Europe, parts of USA, or for the whole of the world, so ensure that you are buying the right travel insurance for your specific trip. Furthermore, if you travel regularly, it may be cheaper to buy cover for a year rather than separate policies for each trip. You may also get better levels of cover with an annual policy, so research into this if you are a frequent globetrotter!