Travel insurance is never essential until you need it. The market is full of all kinds of travel insurance policies, both for general travel and for specialist holidays. It is always worthwhile spending time and comparing different travel insurance policies before choosing one. It can be very useful to list what you want to cover, and what you are doing to make sure that the policy will provide protection when needed. Remember, the cheapest travel insurance may not be the best.
Travel Insurance - Which Policy
The various travel insurance products will offer different levels of cover and it is important to make sure you have the right one. Most people will buy either Single Trip or Annual Multi-Trip cover. These policies expect you to meet some or all of the following criteria:
You are between 18 and 50 (for some policies, 65) years old.
You are mentally and physically fit with no known underlying medical condition.
Your time abroad will not exceed specified durations.
You will not be engaging in activities / sports that would expose you to greater risk of injury or death (such as winter sports, diving, etc).
The basics of different policies are listed below:
Single Trip Travel Insurance - Recommended for those who travel infrequently. The cover is tailored for that specific trip and nothing more or less. Make sure the insurance covers any sports or dangerous activities you may wish to do while away.
Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance - Provides the frequent traveller with insurance cover for every trip that they make within the policy duration. It may be easier and cheaper than taking out individual cover for each trip. Policies will have limitations on the duration of any one trip, and may have limits on the total number of days abroad in a given year. Make sure the policy covers the areas you wish to travel to. Many policies provide global coverage either including or excluding travel to the Americas and North America.
Travel Insurance - Specialist Insurance
If you answer 'Yes' to any of the following then you may want to consider getting specialist insurance cover:
Winter Sports - specialist cover for those planning skiing or other winter sports, which are often exempt from general cover. Winter Sports Insurance may also provide cover for equipment.
Over 65's (or 50's) - Many policies have upper age limits. If you are above this limit you will need to find an insurer willing to cover you. Some companies specialize in Over 65 cover, which can be more comprehensive and cheaper than tweaking another policy.
Backpackers and Long Term Travellers - Most policies only provide cover for a maximum of 45 days on any one trip on multi-trip cover or 180 days for single trip cover. If you plan to be away for longer, like for a gap year, you will need special insurance, which many companies offer.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions - You *must* disclose any pre-existing medical condition to your insurer when taking out a policy. Some companies have exclusions for some conditions. You may need to get specialist cover for this.
Business Travel - General travel insurance will not provide cover when working abroad. You will need specialist cover for documents and equipment related to your company, provide public liability insurance or to cover loss of earnings and work. many business cover policies offer higher amounts of cover than standard policies, and may fly a colleague out to replace you if required.
Couples Families & Groups - It may be cheaper to insure the whole group or family under one single policy. This is offered by some companies.
Travel Insurance - What is covered
You must always be careful to read the particulars of your travel insurance and make sure you understand what is covered. It is also important to be aware of the exclusions and excess that needs to be paid when making a claim. Most policies will provide cover for
Cancellation or delay of your trip.
Loss or theft of personal possessions.
Legal costs associated with injuries or accidents.
Medical emergencies and transport home.
Personal liability in the event that you injure someone (not the same as public liability cover)
Personal accident cover.
24 hour emergency assistance - you want them to be there when needed!
TRAVEL INSURANCE - WHAT IS NEVER COVERED
Some events will rarely, or never, be covered by any travel insurance. These include:
Mental or nervous medical conditions.
Self inflicted injury or suicide.
Trip interruption due to business and work obligations.
War, though some provide cover for terrorist attack.
It is also worth noting that most travel insurance policies will not cover 'Acts of God' which can include natural disasters and the like.