Travel insurance is one of those things that people tend to take for granted when planning a trip. Their aim is to get it sorted as cheaply and quickly as possible, searching online for what looks like the best value deal and then assuming they are protected for all eventualities.
Unfortunately, this assumption is not always correct, with potentially catastrophic consequences.
Travel insurance is not just a matter of covering you for lost luggage or flight cancellations. If you need medical treatment abroad, you will more than likely have to pay, including to be repatriated in serious cases, and the costs can be astronomical. Not having the right travel insurance can suddenly become a very serious matter.
To make sure you are always protected, here are five questions you should always ask your provider about your travel insurance policy.
Do you cover pre-existing medical conditions?
Standard travel insurance policies assume you are fit and well at the time of travel. If you subsequently make a claim for medical treatment and it turns out you have a pre-existing medical condition, your cover will be invalidated. You must declare any condition and ask the provider if they offer extended cover for your medical needs.
Do you cover sports and adventure activities?
Many people like to be active on holiday and take part in all sorts of exhilarating activities. Skiing is a good example where the whole point of the trip is to take part in an ‘adrenalin sport’. However, whether it is snowboarding or white water rafting you intend to turn your hand to, check what your travel insurer’s policy on cover is first. Certain ‘high risk’ activities are exempt from standard cover in the event of an injury – as with pre-existing medical conditions, you may need a specific extension.
What are the time limits on your policies?
If you plan to travel long term, don’t get caught out by the fact that most standard policies have a time limit – not something many travellers even realise. As a rule of thumb, an average single trip policy will cover you for around three months. If you want to travel for a longer period, you will need a special long stay policy to ensure you are protected for the duration of the trip.
Are there any age limits on your policies?
Older travellers sometimes get a nasty surprise when they try to buy travel insurance – companies refuse them on the grounds of age. Thanks to a controversial exemption to age discrimination laws, insurance providers are allowed to do this on the assumption that older travellers are more likely to make a claim. Companies therefore have a right to decide if they want to take on the additional risk or not. If you are aged 60 or over, your first question should always be to ask what age limits a particular provider applies.
What are the cover limits?
Finally, this is the one everyone really should ask about any insurance policy – but a surprisingly high number of people still somehow fail to do so with travel insurance. Most policies will pay out up to certain limits on categories like lost luggage, cancellation, travel delays, personal document loss and medical costs. If your trip costs £5000 but your cancellation cover is only £1000, the purpose of having the policy is somewhat defeated. Always take the time to check exactly what you are covered for.
Find out more about travel insurance for older travellers and people with pre-existing medical conditions.