With all the excitement of choosing a holiday it’s easy to forget some of the practicalities of travel. High up on the list is personal insurance. If you already have travel insurance, it’s important to check the exclusions carefully to make sure you are covered for the trip of your choice. If not, you could be in for an expensive surprise.
Without appropriate cover, you put yourself at considerable financial risk should anything untoward happen, from losing your luggage to seeking medical treatment abroad or repatriation.
Unfortunately, getting the right travel insurance can be something of a minefield, especially for older travellers. There are plenty of brokers now offering policies for retirement age travellers, so here is a guide to the different types of insurance available.
Types of travel insurance
The main type of travel insurance policy you will come across is single trip travel insurance This will cover you for the fixed duration of your time away, and you pay accordingly for the length of your stay. The rates you pay will also vary depending on where you go, with most providers fixing bands by continent.
The other common type is annual multi-trip insurance. With this type of policy, you pay for a full 12 months cover. The benefit is that you can travel as many times as you like on the same policy, and go wherever you like for the same rate. If you plan to travel more than once in the course of a year, it may well work out cheaper than taking out single trip insurance each time.
Other types of policy provide additional protection for sporting activities or going on a cruise. Most specialist policies like these are only available as single trip insurance, and warn people against assuming their annual policy will cover them. However, some policies provide an extension for activities such as winter sports.
For instance, if you go on a cruise you will need extra levels of cover because onboard medical costs are so much higher than if you need to see a doctor or go to hospital on land. You won’t get this kind of extra protection on most annual insurance policies, so cruise insurance is nearly always single trip only.
Travelling with a medical condition
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it is imperative that you declare it when you are buying travel insurance. In most cases you are best off going to a specialist provider.
Standard travel insurance policies provide cover for medical treatment in a very general sense. They’re mainly intended for things like going to a doctor for a prescription, or in the most serious cases, to cover the costs of emergency treatment and repatriation.
If you have an existing medical condition such as diabetes, a heart condition, epilepsy or even cancer, the possibility is you might need specialist treatment while you are away. In any case, the insurer will consider you a higher risk. If you don’t declare your condition, it could invalidate your insurance.
If you do declare it, the insurer can either refuse to offer cover, or they will add a premium on top of the standard price. These premiums can be eye-wateringly high. Your best bet is going to a specialist provider who caters for insuring people with medical conditions. Not only will they offer you a fairer price, they will give you bespoke cover designed precisely for your medical needs.
Some financial service providers such as retail banks offer travel insurance as part of a premium account deal. These are a very useful way of saving money, but you need to read the small print very carefully. Common exclusions include upper age limits, maximum time spent abroad each year and high risk sports.
Of course it is always tempting to cross your fingers and hope for the best. However, no-one can predict accidents or sudden illness, and the costs of treatment or repatriation can be huge. Comprehensive travel insurance is an absolute must wherever you plan to spend your holidays.