Travel Insurance – the basics

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Travel insurance premiums can vary a great deal and, whilst it’s important that you are getting good value for money, it is equally important that you are choosing the level of cover that suits your needs. Extras can be added on but a basic policy should include the following levels of cover:

Cancellation and curtailment  – in case you have to cancel or cut short your holiday, perhaps because you lose your job and can no longer afford to travel, or if a relative falls ill while you are away and you need to come home early. The recommended limit is £3,000, or the total cost of your holiday. Pay attention to the small print, though. If you cancel your holiday because your best friend falls seriously ill, you might reasonably expect the insurance to pay out. But you could be disappointed. Your insurer might refuse the claim if they are not a member of the family, so always check the policy definition of ‘close’.

Delay – you should be compensated if your flight is delayed for longer than 12 hours. To avoid any problems in receiving this compensation ask the airline to confirm the delay in writing and keep any receipts of anything you have to purchase due to the delay.

Baggage and belongings – the policy should pay out up to £1,500 if your luggage or personal possessions are lost, damaged or stolen. Many travel insurers also put a limit on the payout for individual valuable items, such as cameras and laptops. The limits vary between insurers but are typically either £250 or £500. If someone steals your cash while you are on holiday, the payout is again usually limited to £250 or £500. To read more about baggage cover click here.

Personal liability – if you injure someone, perhaps on the ski slopes, or you damage their property, they could make a claim against you. It is therefore a good idea to have personal liability cover up to £1m.

Emergency assistance – many insurance companies offer a 24-hour emergency helpline, which can be a lifesaver, particularly if you are in a different time zone.

Medical cover – you don’t want to end up with a big medical bill if you are taken ill or have an accident while on holiday. Most experts recommend £2m of medical cover if you are travelling abroad, which should include repatriation in case you need to be flown back to the UK.

Some policies come with more generous limits but you have to ask yourself whether the cover is really necessary. If not, you could be paying over the odds for insurance that you don’t need.

Pregnancy shouldn’t prevent a holiday, though you will have to check the terms and conditions of your policy. Most travel firms will insure pregnant women, though typically only up until about 24 weeks. You may also be covered if you discover that you are pregnant while you are away and need to cut short your holiday to come home. Read more about travel insurance for pregnant women.