Got a holiday planned but STILL yet to get travel insurance? For less than a tenner, you can properly relax on holiday knowing that you’re fully covered – here’s how.
Nobody likes thinking about worst case scenarios when getting excited about their holidays.
But, if you can spare a minute between daydreaming about the sun, sea and sangria after the last months of revision and exam stress, we’d seriously advise spending a small bit of cash on a travel insurance policy to cover yourself in case something goes wrong.
The good news is, if you do your research and you’re smart about which policy you choose, it doesn’t have to cost much more than two pints of beer. Here’s what you need to know.
Do you really need travel insurance?
The short answer is YES. Most holidays go swimmingly, but if something does go wrong while you’re out of the UK, you can end up with a serious bill to deal with that could’ve been avoided with one small payment before you set off. It’s a no-brainer.
The US and Australia have notoriously expensive healthcare, so if you’re unlucky enough to fall out of a hammock and break your neck when chilling in Surfer’s Paradise, you’ll be in a serious pickle without a policy that fully covers you.
To give an idea of how much medical treatment can cost in other countries, in South Korea it averages at an unbelievable cost of £28,938.
Without travel insurance, even the most minor of accidents can end up costing you a small fortune. We can also guarantee that if you get something nicked while you’re on your hols, you’ll be kicking yourself for not having the foresight to get insured before you left.
So, for that extra peace of mind while you’re away, it’s well worth investing a little bit of cash into travel insurance.
What about the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
While the UK’s still in the European Union, you can keep using your EHIC card which gives you basic healthcare at a reduced cost when visiting any countries within the European Economic Area.
These cards are free – you just need to submit an online application. Make sure you only apply via this official website, as some scam sites might try to charge for applications.
Though the card is really handy, having one in your wallet doesn’t mean you no longer need insurance – the EHIC won’t cover you for anything other than basic medical treatment.
What will travel insurance cover?
Travel insurance policies can cover you for all sorts of things – each one is different, so make sure you always read the fine print and know exactly what your policy includes before agreeing to anything.
If you’re planning on getting involved in some sports or adventure activities while you’re away, you’ll need a policy that explicitly states that you’re covered if you have an accident as a result.
It might cost a few more quid, but there’s no point in buying a cheaper insurance policy that won’t pay out.
We would recommend that you go for a policy that covers at least the following:
Any policies offering less than this aren’t really advised, and bear in mind that shelling out just an extra couple of quid on your policy could save you thousands if the worst case scenario happened.
Also, don’t forget to check the excess. Your excess is the amount that you agree to pay up front in the case of an emergency, which will then be topped up by your provider. The lower the excess, the more you’ll pay for the policy itself, and vice versa – you can save a bit on your policy if you agree to pay more in excess.
What doesn’t travel insurance cover?
There are a few details worth knowing about travel insurance before you commit to any one policy.
Although insurers are there to reassure you that you’ll be financially covered if something goes wrong, don’t see this as a green light to do whatever you want on holiday and lose all sense of responsibility!
Here are a few things that insurance companies will be quite strict about:
It’s also worth noting that driving abroad isn’t normally covered by travel insurance (although sometimes it can be so it’s worth checking out).
How to make a travel insurance claim
Most insurance companies offer a 24-hour hotline because it’s normally required that you file your claim within 24 hours.
So, if you need to report something, call them as soon as possible. Make sure that you keep the telephone number handy, just in case you do need it.
Before you call them, think carefully about the situation and write down the specifics so you can provide any details they ask for.
If you’re reporting a theft, you’ll have to provide them with the details of what happened and a crime reference number from the local police department, so make sure you report it to the authorities beforehand.
Another thing the insurers might ask for is photographic evidence that you owned the stolen item(s). Therefore, it’s a good idea to lay out everything of value on your bed before you leave and take a photo of it all. You can then send this to the insurers as proof of ownership when filing your claim.
If you’re sick, some insurers will arrange to pay the hospital directly if you need treatment, but do clarify the procedure before paying for your policy.
If you pay for something that you expect to be refunded by the insurance company at a later date, for example emergency accommodation if your flight is cancelled, make sure you keep all receipts so you can prove exactly how much everything came to.
Which type of travel insurance policy to go for
When you’re choosing a policy, you’ll first be faced with two main options – single trip or multi-trip/ annual cover.
As you might’ve guessed, single cover will insure you for just one trip (normally up to around 31 days), whereas annual will cover every holiday you take over the next year.
Price-wise, if you plan to go abroad more than once in the year, it’ll probably be worth taking out annual cover. It’s often around the same price as two single-trip policies will cost you anyway.
If you’re planning a longer trip such as a backpacking holiday or a gap year, you’ll need to take an annual policy. There are often special policies specifically for trips such as these, so keep your eyes peeled.
Where to buy travel insurance
As much as we’d love to tell you which travel insurance policies are the best, it really does depend on what kind of trip you’re going on.
Prices will vary depending on whether you need gadget cover or you’re going skiing for example, so your best bet is heading across to a comparison site to scout out the best deals.
There are loads out there, but some good places to start are Money Supermarket, Compare the Market and Go Compare.
They’ll allow you to filter results by certain requirements you have. For example, if you want medical cover of at least £2 million, you can make sure you’re only seeing policies which will provide that.
What is the Defaqto Rating?
You’ll notice that each policy is displayed next to a Defaqto star rating, ranging from one to five.
This rating basically indicates how comprehensive the cover is – a five-star policy will cover lots more than one-star. However, bear in mind that you might not need those extra add ons, especially if you’re just heading off on a quick weekend break.
The Defaqto rating is a useful indication of how extensive policies are, but not necessarily whether it’s the right one for you.
The best student travel insurance
As one of the biggest names in student travel, it makes sense that STA Travel offer some great deals for students.
They offer budget, standard and premier policies, and cover starts at just 37p per day for single trip, and as little as 22p per day for annual cover.
There’s also the option to add cancellation cover in the event that you need to re-sit your exams instead of going away.
You can also get coverage for studying abroad, working holidays (like farming and ski seasons), and volunteering.
Endsleigh is the biggest name in student insurance as they specialise in providing affordable policies for young people – plus, they’re the only insurance provider recommended by the NUS.
For this reason, they specialise in gap year and study abroad insurance, so if you’re planning an extended trip, they’re a good option to check out.
The best perk? You’ll get a sweet 15-20% discount with a TOTUM/NUS Extra card.
Note: Comparison tools are normally the quickest route to the cheapest deals, but insurance providers that are tailored specifically for students might offer more suitable coverage or a discount.
Just in case you need an excuse to travel more, we know of nine ways travelling makes you more employable.