In times of recession – and, frankly, in the aftermath of a pandemic – it is more important than ever to make sure you are properly insured when you travel. But how do you pick the right policy from the myriad options available?
It’s easy to get bamboozled by impressive amounts of cover, and then – perhaps too late – find out that an activity or health condition that was important to you is excluded from the policy.
It can be tedious going through the small print to double check on all this, so we have come up with a straightforward six-point plan to help make the process easier and also – with reference to research by Which? – highlighted two providers with particularly well-thought-out policies.
One final key point. Once you have found what you want, buy your insurance as soon as you book your trip. It won’t cost you anymore, and you will benefit from all the pre-departure and cancellation cover for the whole run up to your holiday.
1. Consider a multi-trip policy
These cover all the travelling you do in a calendar year, with limits on the length of each individual trip. Whether it is cheaper to buy one of these than separate policies every time you travel depends how much travelling you do in a year – three or four trips will usually mean you save with multi-trip cover. The other huge advantage of a multi-trip policy is that you are covered continuously and don’t have to shop for a new policy each time you book. You can normally choose, in order of cost, between worldwide cover, worldwide without North America, or Europe only.
2. Look for multiple cover
It is normally cheaper to buy cover for a couple, or a family, under one policy – the best annual policies will also allow each of the insured to travel independently.
3. Check the limits
Policy limits for different aspects of cover can be irritatingly out of balance. Insurers are often mean over baggage and cancellation, and set unnecessarily high limits (or no limit at all) for medical cover. Typical levels on a high quality policy would be: cancellation (£5,000), emergency medical cover (£10 million), baggage (£2,000), missed departure (£750), personal liability (£2 million). It is also worth checking for cover against the financial failure of an airline or travel company – a very useful extra, especially if you are booking independently.
4. Check the activities list
All policies should include a list of sports and activities that are automatically covered, and those which need an extra premium to be included. You need to check these through carefully. Note that winter sports is now usually an optional extra on multi-trip policies – typically with an extra premium for up to 17 days a year. Look out for restrictions – on off-piste skiing or boarding, or lack of cover for skis left unattended and unsecured, for example.
5. Check for age limits
6. Where to buy
The most recent Which? report highlights policies offered by Barclays and HSBC as some way ahead of other providers, both also having particularly good cover for covid-related cancellations. Always check the details of the policy you are buying – they can change and may or may not be suitable for your particular needs.