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Travelling without cover is risky and could leave you massively out of pocket if something goes wrong while you're away. Figures from the Association of British Insurers show that 3,000 Brits require emergency treatment abroad every week, and the average cost of a medical claim is at a record high of £1,300 (ABI, June 2019) so there has never been a greater need to get proper cover.
Travel insurance is designed to protect you financially for any expenses that you might incur if the unexpected does happen. Cover is not just limited to your medical expenses while you're abroad; many policies offer a range of benefits such as reimbursing the cost of your plane tickets if your airline becomes insolvent, or covering the cost of any pre-booked flights, accommodation and excursions if you have to cancel or cut your holiday short.
Without travel insurance you might have to cover the cost of any emergency expenses on your own, so for peace of mind you should make sure that you have adequate cover in place.
Travel insurance policies are designed to be as comprehensive as possible and should cover most of a traveller's main concerns before and during travel. However, the amount and type of cover can vary wildly between brokers so you should always read the Policy Wording before you buy to make sure the policy meets all your requirements.
For example, many policies will cover cancellation costs if you are unable to travel (this includes things like money you've spent on flight and hotel reservations), but when we performed a check of cancellation cover amounts we found they ranged from £1,000 with a £125 excess to £10,000 with no excess. If your holiday cost more than £1,000 you would almost certainly want to opt for a policy that covered you for the full amount paid.
You can find out more about what each specific type of cover provides by clicking them below:
Medical expenses make up the majority of travel insurance claims according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which is hardly surprising considering the eye-watering costs associated with medical treatment overseas. You should choose a travel insurance policy that includes at least £1 million of medical cover for trips to Europe or £2 million for trips outside of Europe, and also make sure the policy has a 24-hour helpline in case of emergencies.
As for baggage cover, the ABI reports that the average family takes £3,000 worth of valuables on holiday with them so you can use this as a rough guide as to what you'll need (remember to include the cost of your mobile phone and other devices if appropriate).
Cancellation cover will allow you to claim for expenses incurred if you need to cancel your trip or come home early. Remember that cancellation cover is per person listed on the policy, so if you and your partner book a holiday costing £3,000 you will only need £1,500 worth of cover each.
A typical single trip policy for a 30-year-old travelling for one week costs around £4.07 to Europe and £16.13 Worldwide, assuming no pre-existing medical conditions or extra cover such as winter sports is required. For a 60-year-old, a typical single trip policy costs around £5.72 (Europe) and £23.18 (Worldwide).
A typical annual / multi-trip policy for a 30-year-old costs around £15.83 to Europe and £39.80 Worldwide. For a 60-year-old, typical annual policies cost £22.10 to Europe and £49.75 Worldwide.
The cost of a couple, family or group policy is usually less than the equivalent policies would be if each traveller took out individual cover. All prices correct as of May 2020.
Age is the main determinant of cost when it comes to travel insurance; the older you get, the more expensive it becomes to get cover. However, the big price increases don't start kicking in until you're over 65, and the steepest increases of all don't hit until age 80.
To demonstrate, we checked how much it would cost for a single traveller to get insured for a one-week trip to Europe. Our results found that a 60-year-old would only pay £1.65 more for compared to an 18-year old (£4.07 compared to £5.72). The same policy would have cost £12.35 for a 70-year-old, £27.48 for an 80-year-old and £91.69 for an 85-year-old.
Your holiday destination and the length of your trip can also affect the price of your travel insurance. Longer trips cost more to cover, as do holidays in countries where the price of medical treatment is expensive. If you plan on doing any adventurous activities such as windsurfing, skiing or scuba diving while you're on holiday, you may need to pay an extra premium to get covered as many brokers don't include them on standard or basic policies.
Contrary to popular belief, declaring a pre-existing medical condition does not always increase the cost of your travel insurance. A 2018 survey by Which? found that 75% of 10,495 travellers with a pre-existing medical condition did not experience any increase in price when declaring the conditions to their insurer.
If you or anyone named on the policy has any pre-existing medical conditions, you should declare these to the insurer when you purchase the policy otherwise you may not be covered for claims that are caused by, worsened by or related to the condition(s).
It can be difficult to know which pre-existing medical conditions to declare. As a general rule you should disclose any of the following conditions:
If you're unsure, always check with your insurer before you travel. In most cases they can alter your cover to include pre-existing conditions even after you've purchased the policy.
Note: when you compare travel insurance quotes on our website, we don't ask you about any pre-existing medical conditions. Any quotes you receive will still be completely valid, but they may not cover you for any pre-existing medical conditions. If you want to be sure you're covered for pre-existing conditions, some insurers allow will you to add them in when you purchase the policy, otherwise you should contact the insurer before you travel to make them aware.