Choosing the right travel insurance
For many travellers, organising travel insurance is something of an afterthought. But finding a policy that suits you and your journey plans could be the most important travel decision you make. Sometimes that means really examining the specifics of the available policies, rather than just going with whoever's cheapest. Here's our guide on what to look out for when you're shopping around for that perfect policy.
What does travel insurance cover?
The cover provided by travel insurance policies depends on who you insure with and which of their policies you choose. There are so many different providers that it can seem a little daunting to search through them. But a few extra minutes spent doing your homework is well worth it if you end up with a policy that you know you can really trust.
A copy of the Full Policy Wording is available here
Tips for reading your travel insurance policy
All travel insurance policies have a list of reminders and conditions of policy usage, often at the beginning of the Policy Wording. The points are generally straightforward and apply to the majority of policies. Here's a summary and a few pointers from us:
- Insurers are legally obliged to provide a 14-day cooling-off period from the date your policy is issued. During this time you can cancel your policy and receive a full refund if you decide it's not quite right.
- You must let your insurance company know if there is a change in risk associated with your trip. For example, if you declared a pre-existing medical condition when you took out your insurance, you must let your policy providers know if your health declines before your trip. Failure to do so could invalidate your policy.
- Make sure the minimum claim limits of your policy are enough to cover the items you intend to take on holiday.
- Getting active on holiday? Then make sure you're covered. Many insurers do not automatically provide cover for sports and outdoor activities. So if the worst happens and you get injured during the action, you could be left facing a hefty medical bill. At World First we offer specialist cover for hundreds of sports and outdoor activities.
- If you are thinking of riding a motorbike on holiday, check your policy covers you. Not all insurers offer this cover.
- It might seem obvious, but make sure your passports and visas are all up-to-date and, if necessary, get all the relevant jabs and vaccinations before you leave the UK.
- If you are visiting a country in the European Union, don't leave the UK without your European Health Insurance Card. If you don't have yours yet you can pick one up from http://www.ehic.org.uk.
- If you are buying annual travel insurance, make sure the start date is "today" and not the actual date you travel, otherwise you may not be covered for cancellation claims.
The specific meaning of certain travel insurance terms will differ across policies so it's important to check the definitions when going over your policy. For example, different insurers will have different definitions for what constitutes a pre-existing medical condition, who is classed as a close relative and what will be covered in travel insurance for pregnancy. Definitions of policy terms will usually be provided upfront, before the policy wording.
Making a claim on your travel insurance
The majority of complaints about travel insurance develop when it comes to making a claim. Unfortunately it's often because people forget to read the policy wording and get caught out by the claims conditions.
At World First we like to think that the true test of your travel insurance is when it comes to the crunch and you need to make a claim. It's what separates the best from the rest. Many insurance companies have complicated claims procedures and often outsource the claims process. So it's worth doing your research on your provider's claims procedure before you commit to your policy. It could save a lot hassle and heartache if the unexpected happens.
World First are backed by the best underwriters in the business. We have a dedicated in-house claims team and offer 24 hour emergency assistance. We're all about giving our customers a fairer deal. So you can expect a fast, sympathetic and effective service if you need to make a claim.
Emergency medical assistance and expenses
Do not underestimate the value of getting comprehensive cover for medical assistance while you are abroad, even if your budget is limited. It's one of the most important parts of any policy. All travel insurance policies from World First come with the very best cover, including access to our 24-hour multi-lingual emergency assistance service and helpline – available 365 days a year.
Claims arising from pre-existing medical conditions
When you buy your travel insurance it's important to declare your pre-existing medical conditions. Anything you declare will be confirmed in writing with your policy. Make sure you read through this summary and contact your insurer if you need to change anything. In the event that you need to make a claim, your insurer may check your medical details with your Doctor.
The general conditions of your travel insurance policy
The way that travel insurance companies write their policies varies and it isn't always easy to put policy wordings side by side to compare the nitty gritty. Here's what you need to look out for when comparing quotes:
- Independent travel
Not all travel insurance policies will cover you to travel independently of the other people covered by your policy. We do. That means if you have an annual policy for the whole family, your child will be covered for a school trip and you will be covered if you go on holiday without your children.
- Territorial definitions
Your insurance will only cover you to travel to the destinations that you have paid to be covered for. If you're buying worldwide travel insurance, it's important to check which countries are covered. The definition of Europe, for example, varies amongst insurance providers and not all policies automatically cover the USA and Canada.
- Working overseas
Travelling for work instead of pleasure? Under the terms of most policies you will not be covered for manual work overseas unless specified on your insurance schedule.
What's not covered by your travel Insurance?
All travel insurance policies have exclusions. If there is one section of your policy that we recommend reading carefully then it's the general exclusions. Each section of your travel insurance policy will have its own exclusions specific to that section, but the general exclusions apply to the entire policy. Here are a few of the more common exclusions.
- You won't be covered for any medical conditions unless you declared them to your insurance provider. The definitions of pre-existing medical conditions vary so be careful that you go in to detail with your insurance provider, especially if you are taking medication or have seen a Doctor in the last 12 months. At World First we are leading providers of medical travel insurance and make it easy to insure thousands of pre-existing medical conditions. You can pick up an instant quote online now.
- Most policies exclude cover for any claim arising directly or indirectly from depression, stress, anxiety or mental disorder.
- Suicide, attempted suicide, self inflicted injury, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (unless the drugs have been prescribed by a medical practitioner), alcohol or drug abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, solvent abuse, wilful exposure to exceptional risk (unless you are trying to save someone's life) will normally invalidate your insurance policy.
- Many insurers do not cover acts of terrorism. At World First we're different and provide cover for Personal Accident, Emergency Medical Expenses, Repatriation and additional hospital benefit in unlikely event of a terrorist attack, unless the need for them results from nuclear, chemical or biological weapons of mass destruction.
The Cancellation section of your travel insurance
Sometimes, something unexpected means you have to cut your holiday short. You might even be forced into cancelling it altogether. And that can be pricey. Thankfully, most insurance providers offer cancellation cover, allowing you to claim anything from £500 to £30,000. The limits are different with each provider, so shop around and choose something that matches the costs of your holiday. Usually, the "per person" limit of cover will be stated on your policy schedule.
Normally the cancellation section of your policy will cover all pre-booked accommodation and flights. At World First we also include cover for timeshare management changes and travel booked and paid for using Air Miles and other forms of redeemable vouchers.
The cancellation section will also cover cancellations arising from the accidental injury, serious illness, death or quarantine restrictions of any person who has been insured, anyone you are intending to travel or stay with, immediate relatives and close business associates. You'll also be covered for jury service, redundancy and trip abandonment following an unavoidable travel delay.
Cover for UK holidays
Holidays in the UK should still be covered by travel insurance. You might not need the full cover of a World First policy, but a booking is a legally binding contract and, like all contracts, you should protect yourself if you can. Our Hotelsure and Guest First packages will give you all the cover you need if you're deciding to holiday closer to home.
What is curtailment?
Curtailment cover is fairly standard in most travel insurance policies and covers you should your holiday be cut short. It will cover the costs of all travel and pre-booked holiday accommodation that you do not use, but have already paid for. Like cancellation cover, the limits on how much you can claim through curtailment cover differ between insurers.
Most policies, including those from World First, also include cover for "reasonable" additional travelling expenses. These are intended to cover the costs of returning home early due to accidental injury, serious illness, complications in pregnancy, your home being made uninhabitable or a police summons.
Need help with travel insurance or want to ask a question?
If you need any help or have questions about travel insurance, then please don't hesitate to contact one of our support team on 0345 90 80 161. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org.