5 Things You Should Know About Travel Insurance
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Most people don’t think twice about buying
home or car insurance these days. They fall into the ‘got-to-have’ category of
life’s little administrative extras.
Travel insurance, however, is another
matter. According to UK government figures, a quarter
of people still travel abroad without insurance.
Buying travel insurance is strongly advised
for any trip because, if something goes wrong, you will inevitably have to pay.
The only way to be sure you are protected for lost or stolen luggage, cancelled
flights or hotel bookings, is to take out travel insurance.
Perhaps most importantly, should you have
an accident abroad or fall ill, medical expenses can be eye-watering. In the
US, something as common as a stomach bug could cost you £100,000 if you
needed hospital treatment.
Without insurance, you would be liable for
the full cost.
Even the three-quarters of travellers who
do buy travel insurance need to be careful. There is a widespread assumption
that all travel insurance policies are alike, and will cover you in all
Sadly, this is not the case, and thousands
of people get caught out every year by not reading the small print on their
policy. When they come to make a claim, they find they are not covered, after
So here are five things every older
traveller should know about travel insurance before they buy to make sure they
get the right protection.
Age matters - and you could be paying a premium
What many senior travellers do not realise
is that their age is often a factor in whether they can get travel insurance,
and how much they have to pay. It sounds like discrimination, but is perfectly
legal. In the UK, for example, the industry has a voluntary agreement with the government that
insurance companies can refuse cover on the grounds of age, as long as they
signpost customers to another provider who will offer cover.
It all boils down to what insurance companies
see as the increased likelihood of people aged 50 and over requiring medical
treatment abroad. Many don’t want to take the risk, and those that do will
often add a premium onto the cost without making this clear to the customer.
The best option if you are aged 50 or over
is to look for a provider that specialises in policies for your age group, as
you will get the best value as well as complete cover for all your needs.
Your EHIC card does not give you full medical protection
Many people believe that if they hold a
European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, they do not need to buy travel
insurance on top of it when travelling within the EU.
The EHIC entitles the holder to free state health care in any EU country. So,
if you fall ill, it means you can visit a doctor without paying, or maybe
receive hospital treatment. However, the type of care provided for free by the
state varies in each country. Hospital admission for a stomach bug might be
covered in one country, but not in another.
Also, it provides no cover for rescue and
repatriation, which is when things really start to get expensive. And it gives
no protection for any of the other things travel insurance covers you for, like
lost luggage or cancellations.
A medical condition could invalidate your cover
If you have a pre-existing medical
condition, you need to be very careful when it comes to buying travel
insurance. If you do not declare your condition, and then fall ill abroad, your
insurance could be invalidated, meaning your would have to foot the bill for
The safest best is to look for a provider
which specialises in travel policies for specific medical conditions. As
different conditions carry different levels of risk and require different types
of treatment, it is important to get a bespoke policy that fits your medical
requirements. These policies will also offer higher maximum pay outs to reflect
the potential need for specialist treatment.
Annual policies can save money - but single trip insurance can last more than a year
People sometimes get confused understanding
the difference between annual travel insurance policies and single-trip
insurance. Annual policies are also known as multi-trip cover - if you travel
frequently, you can buy an annual policy which will cover you all year, however
many times you travel. This will save you money compared to buying cover for
each individual trip.
However, single-trip travel insurance is the better
option for any one trip you take, no matter how long it is. In fact, some
providers offer single-trip insurance which lasts much longer than a year. If,
for example, you are moving abroad to live for
six months, a year, or even 18 months, a single-trip policy could work
out better value than an annual policy.
Beware ‘bonus’ travel insurance bundles
Finally, many people now get travel
insurance as an added-value extra with their bank account, credit card or even
other insurance products. These tend to be annual, multi-trip policies.
Naturally, people assume these provide all the cover they need when they go
Unfortunately, that is often not the case.
They are very generic products, and will include
exclusions for travellers over a certain age or those who have
pre-existing medical conditions in the small print. As these exclusions are
often not flagged up by the provider, older travellers are strongly advised to
read the terms and conditions carefully, and look for additional cover when they travel.
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