5 tips for choosing the right travel insurance

23 Apr 2019

The number of travel insurance claims is on the rise, with the most recent figures from the Association of British Insurers revealing that one claim is made every minute throughout the year in the UK. However, as many as two in five people set off on their holidays without the right travel insurance, according to ABTA figures. It's easy to forget, particularly if you've just bagged a last-minute deal, but it really is essential.

We spoke to the team at Allianz Assistance insurance to get their top travel insurance tips, and have put together a 5-step plan to help you select a policy that's right for you.

1. Get the basics right

As an industry standard, insurance companies allow you a 14-day cooling-off period, giving you the time to check through these basics on your policy and make sure everything is covered relevant to your trip:

  • Medical cover: For most of us, this is probably the most essential part of any cover; we all want to know we're going to be OK should some medical disaster befall us in a far-off land. Consumer watchdog Which? reckons you should be looking for a policy that provides at least £2 million worth of medical cover for Europe and at least £5 million for worldwide.

Look out for further cover within policies, as some insurance companies provide 24/7 online or telephone consultation with an NHS GP back home in the UK, which is a great support.

  • Luggage and personal items: This represents the third-highest type of insurance claim that Allianz Assistance receives, and there are two things to bear in mind here. First, does the policy provide a sufficient level of cover for your bags? A decent one will provide coverage of £1,500 as a minimum. Second, be sure to check what the limit is for a claim on individual items; cheap policies tend to set this pretty low, particularly policies available on price-comparison sites.

With more and more budget airlines requiring you to put your hand luggage in the hold during your flight rather than in the overhead lockers, your insurance policy may not cover you if anything gets broken. Some insurance policies only cover for damage if the item is kept on your person, so be sure to read the fine print before parting with your precious belongings.

  • Excess: As a rule of thumb, the cheaper the policy, the higher the excess will be. So, if the excess on your policy is set at £200 and you claim for £300, the insurer will pay £100. Many insurers -- again, particularly on price-comparison sites -- routinely set the excess at around £200, so be careful to scrutinise this before you commit.
  • Cancellation policy: According to Allianz Assistance, cancellation is the most common reason for insurance claims. Having to cancel or cut short a holiday is bad enough; ending up out of pocket as a result is pure misery. Check how much you have paid per person for your holiday and make sure you purchase a policy with the right amount of cover, including cover for any excursions you have already organised and paid for. Your policy should also include the cost of getting you home if your holiday is cut short or if you miss a connection due to an unexpected delay.

Cover yourself for last-minute cancellations and always consider buying travel insurance at the same time as buying your holiday as advance preparation. Unexpected illness or injury, jury duty and burglary are some top reasons for people needing to cancel their holidays, yet one in five of us only buy it just before we travel.

2. Annual or single trip?

Planning to take three holidays or more in the next year? Get yourself an annual policy and you'll almost certainly save some cash. Check the maximum number of days covered for each trip, though -- many policies limit the number of days for which you're covered, sometimes to as low as 21. If you're going backpacking, we recommend choosing a specific backpacker's travel insurance policy.

3. Make sure your destination is covered 

You'll find that while the US and Caribbean are frequently not automatically included in worldwide policies, African countries such as Egypt and Morocco are usually included in European ones -- something to bear in mind if you're heading to multiple locations or choosing an annual policy.

4. Read before you ride

If your idea of being active on holiday involves doing a lap of the pool on your way to the swim-up bar, you needn't concern yourself with this. If, however, you're the fidgety, thrill-seeking sort, you should consider which activities you can undertake on your travels while staying covered by your insurance policy. While the likes of bungee jumping and kitesurfing will be automatically covered by some policies, activities such as horse riding and skiing are often seen as higher risk and will cost extra. 

5. Check for protection against failure

Travel insurance can grant you peace of mind that your flights or holiday will be covered in the event of an airline or holiday supplier suddenly ceasing to trade. Be sure to check your policy for details of cover in the event of airline or travel agent failure, as this is often not included as standard.

Whichever insurance company and policy you go for, we recommend having paper and digital copies of your insurance documents handy, as well as any emergency contact numbers you may need, so that you can always access the information when you’re away.

Allianz Assistance is offering 15% off their travel insurance policies with the code TZ2019.

Allianz Assistance Travel Insurance is underwritten by AWP P&C SA and administered in the UK by AWP Assistance UK Ltd, Registered in England No. 1710361. Registered Office PO Box 74005, 60 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3P 3DS. AWP Assistance UK Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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