Unfortunately things can go wrong while travelling or on holiday. You could fall ill or have an accident; you could have your money stolen; your visit might be cut short or cancelled through injury or illness; your family might need to fly out to assist if there is a serious incident. It is highly recommended that travel insurance cover is purchased before you go – never travel without insurance.
Most reputable travel agents and tour operators will insist within their terms and conditions, that when you book your holiday, you cannot travel without insurance.
You are under no obligation to book your insurance with the travel agent or tour operator. Since January 2009, the sale of travel insurance is now regulated and must be purchased from a company that is authorised by the Financial Services Authority.
You should take your time and examine other options from a number of sources.
When buying such a policy ensure that adequate legal expense is provided.
Many of the policies that are available from travel agents and tour operators will not fund legal expenses for a claim against a tour operator if your holiday goes wrong. Try to find a policy that will provide that legal expense cover if things go wrong.
You should make sure that you know what your policy will cover.
Make sure that the insurance company knows of any pre existing conditions or circumstances which may prevent you from travelling or curtail cover when you need it most! Include any medical conditions that develop after you take out the insurance and inform the insurance company before you travel!
When declaring such conditions, obtain the insurance company’s acceptance in writing to your application for cover, preferably before you book your holiday.
If you take part in dangerous sports, ensure that your activity is not excluded, if it is, obtain additional or separate cover to cover that activity.
When you travel make sure that you take your policy and 24 hour emergency contact number with you.
Familiarise yourself with the contact/assistance protocols, these will be set out in the insurance documentation.
If you have to use your policy, keep as much paperwork as possible, for example, tickets, receipts, medical bills, police reports. These will help to prove what you have had to pay for.
The following is The Holiday TravelWatch Checklist of what to watch out for when buying travel insurance:
- Credit card accident cover, home insurance or private health cover may not provide full cover – check before you travel, buy additional cover if needed;
- Shop around! The cost of travel insurance varies widely, search for the right product at the right price for you. A cheaper policy may mean less cover;
- Regular traveller? Consider taking out an annual multi trip insurance, this will save time, money and effort;
- Know what your policy covers and check that the cover is adequate. If in doubt ask your insurer;
- Ensure that the policy covers you for the entire period of your holiday or journey;
- Engaged in dangerous activities? Does your policy cover them? If not, extend your cover or purchase a specialist policy;
- Medical cover in Europe should provide a minimum £1m worth of cover or, £2m for all other destinations. It must include cover for emergency medical treatment, hospitalisation and repatriation;
- Are you covered for personal liability? Are you covered if you cause injury or damage to others and their property?
- If you have to cancel or abandon your trip, cancellation cover should start as soon as you make your booking;
- Does the policy provide a 24 hour emergency service and assistance if things go wrong?
- Do you have possessions cover which includes your money or documents to specified limits? You must take reasonable care of you possessions or your policy will not cover you and you must comply with any reporting requirements;
- Are you covered for personal accident where money will be paid on death or permanent disability?
- Does the policy contain legal expenses cover? This is important as it will help to pursue compensation for damages following personal injury or the failure of your travel arrangements - will it allow you to sue the tour operator, travel agent, airline, shipping company or hotel?
- Remember, most policies will not cover drink or drug related incidents;
- Declare anything that you think may affect your cover. Be honest – tell your insurer about any pre existing conditions, this should include others within your travelling party –advise them of any conditions that have developed since you purchased the insurance to the time you go on holiday;
- If you fail to declare, this may invalidate your policy!
- If you get into a dispute with your insurer, read the complaints procedure on your policy document and take action! If you continue to have problems with your insurer then contact the Financial Services Ombudsman.
If you have been affected by any Travel Insurance complaints, then please contact us at HolidayTravelWatch.
For further details on our services, read our Legal Notice.