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Holiday insurance: Everything you need to know to ensure you're covered if something goes wrong

With holidays abroad returning to pre-pandemic levels, it's important that when you go abroad you're fully protected.  The last thing anyone wants when they go on holiday is for something to go wrong, but as we all know the unexpected can happen at any time, from lost luggage or flight delays to an accident or a medical emergency.

Although you don't need travel insurance as a legal requirement to go on holiday, it's very important to have it because you'll be safe in the knowledge that should something go wrong you'll be covered.

Booking a holiday

When booking a package holiday many tour operators will give you the option of taking out insurance if you do not already have this.  However, many people have travel insurance connected to a packaged bank account or maybe through a credit card.  Nonetheless, regardless of where your travel insurance is from, it's important that you check the level of cover. 

Things to consider when looking at travel insurance may include the level of cancellation cover limit to see that it matches the cost of your holiday, if any pre-existing medical conditions need to be declared before you travel, will you be covered if you need emergency medical treatment abroad, would you be repatriated home if you were very sick, and what the policy specifically excludes.

Common reasons for claiming on travel insurance

Having to cancel your holiday or needing medical treatment while away are the two most common reasons people claim on their travel insurance. Therefore it's very important that you check the level of cover for these.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, most new travel insurance policies have introduced cover for this, but not all.  If you have a long-standing policy through your bank or credit card, the cover in this regard is likely to have been changed so it's important you get an up-to-date copy of the policy before you travel to make sure it covers all of your needs.

If you're satisfied you have sufficient insurance cover, it's always a good idea to make a note of the emergency numbers you would need to call while you're on holiday.  

This is very important if you are in a country where you will have to pay for all medical treatment.  It's not uncommon for hospitals in some countries to refuse to provide any treatment until either a credit card or proof of insurance is provided.  Even then you will normally have to get any treatment authorised by your insurer before it goes ahead.  This is why it's so important to have the contact numbers for your insurer close at hand.

Again, it's worth noting that not all travel insurance policies were created equal so make sure your policy covers you for what you want to be protected against.

Top tips to consider 

As international serious injury lawyers, here are our top tips to consider when looking at insurance before you travel:

  • Read the ‘small print’ to make sure it adequately covers you before you travel. Insurance policies can be long but they are generally drafted clearly and will have a summary of what is covered and the financial limits of such cover.
  • Check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice regarding travel restrictions to your destination. Although the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are largely lifted now, it's still worth checking what the website says before considering travel insurance. You should also check if any particular vaccinations are recommended for the country you intend to travel to.  This advice is subject to change and should be reviewed before travelling and/or purchasing any insurance because you may not be covered if you travel to a country against FCO advice.
  • If you're looking to travel and have an existing policy in place, either as a one-off purchase or through your bank or credit card, contact your insurer to make sure you're aware of what cover is in place now because this may have changed.
  • Following on from the above, consider if your circumstances have changed and whether or not you need to report a health condition that has arisen since you took out the policy.
  • As well as checking the level of what you're covered for, you should be aware of what's excluded, particularly if it's something that you're planning to do, such as water sports.  From personal experience, some insurance doesn't cover animals, so additional cover may be needed when booking the likes of dog sled rides and reindeer farm visits in Lapland.
  • If you have a family policy, check who is actually covered.  This may be limited to family living in the same ‘household', so it's important to check to whom the cover extends.  Some policies will cover extended family members provided the insurance company is told in advance.
  • Have a copy of the policy with you (printed or e-copy) so you can produce this if necessary and have all the contact numbers for the insurer that you might need.
  • Check whether any long-standing or new insurance policy provides cover in the event that the tour operator or airline you have booked with goes into administration before you travel or while you travel.

For more holidaying advice, visit our dedicated 'Safe Travels This Summer' section on our website.