Travel insurance provides protection against the impact of something going wrong when you are on holiday or travelling. It is available from a range of providers, including many airlines. Shop around for the product that best covers your specific needs.
What travel insurance policies should cover
A good insurance policy should provide cover for:
- Missed departures/connections;
- Cancellation or restriction of your holiday caused by an unexpected event such as illness;
- Illness, injury or death while you are away;
- Repatriation (getting you back home);
- Loss, theft or damage to your belongings or luggage (many policies will not cover items lost from check-in luggage);
- Liability for accidents to others;
- If the carrier goes out of business;
- Natural disasters, natural events and severe weather;
- Political instability; and
- Security risks.
Note: If you plan to depart from the Republic of Ireland, check with your insurance provider that your policy covers you.
It is also important to know what the policy does not cover. Some common exclusions are:
- Travel disruption caused by natural disaster, volcanic ash, civil unrest or terrorism may not be included;
- Claims for a pre-existing medical condition or illness at the time of taking out your policy that has not been declared;
- Alcohol and drug related incidents; and
- Missing valuables from check-in luggage.
Types of travel insurance
There are many different types of travel insurance policies to choose from, depending on your circumstances. It is also important to check if you already have travel insurance as part of your bank account or home insurance. If you have existing cover, check to see if it is sufficient for the holiday or journey you are planning to take.
The type of insurance cover that you need will also be determined by where you are travelling to. European travel insurance will provide cover for destinations within Europe and some policies may also include parts of Africa such as Morocco, Egypt, and Tunisia.
It is vital that if you are travelling to Europe you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The EHIC is available free of charge to all UK residents and allows travellers to receive treatment from public hospitals in all European Economic Area countries. However there are many things that are not covered by the EHIC such as:
- mountain rescue in ski resorts;
- treatment on cruises; or
- lost or stolen property.
This is why it is important to have appropriate travel insurance in place.
EHIC card applications are free, so be wary of copycat websites that charge you for help making the application. To use a trusted source, go to the nidirect website.
Please note, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 31 October 2019, the EHIC may no longer be valid for UK travellers.
If you are travelling outside of areas covered by European insurance you will need worldwide travel insurance. These policies are often split into travel that includes Canada, USA and the Caribbean and travel that excludes Canada, USA and the Caribbean. Always check the policy before buying to ensure that your destination is covered.
Individual, family and group insurance
If you are travelling with your family or with a group, family travel insurance or group travel insurance may be cheaper and easier than taking out an individual travel insurance policy for each person. Some family insurance policies provide free cover for under 18s so it is good to check this when shopping around. However the cost of a family or group policy can be increased if anyone in the group requires cover for specific medical conditions or age.
Over 65s Insurance
Some travel insurance providers will not give you cover if you are aged 65 or over, or will charge you a higher premium. Ensure that you shop around to check the best deal as there can be large variations in price.
Pre-existing medical conditions
It is important to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your insurance provider before travelling, to ensure that you are getting the right cover to suit your needs and to avoid invalidating your insurance. You may be charged more, however, having the right cover in place will provide peace of mind should something go wrong whilst you are abroad that you need to claim for.
Complaints about travel insurance
If you are unhappy with any aspect of your travel insurance policy you should complain to the company who sold you it. The company has eight weeks in which to address your complaint.
If the company does not respond, or you are unhappy with their response, you can raise your complaint with the Financial Ombudsman Service.