Beginner's Guide To: Travel insurance

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The Independent Online

The summer holiday season is in full swing, yet according to research from American Express, a quarter of holidaymakers will head off without travel insurance. With the cost of insurance for a week in Spain starting from less than £5, it could be an expensive mistake going without, particularly when medical bills can run into thousands of pounds.

How much cover do I need?

The amount of cover offered by insurers varies and it's not necessarily the case that the more you pay, the greater the level of cover. Similarly, don't assume that the cheapest price won't offer you the cover you need.

The key is to look at what protection a policy gives before you buy.

You should look at cover of at least £2m for medical expenses, £1m in personal liability, £1,500 for baggage, and enough cancellation cover to meet the cost of your holiday. Of course, you need to make sure your cover matches your personal circumstances.

Should I buy annual travel insurance?

If you go away once or twice a year, buying a single trip policy for each holiday will probably be the most cost-effective option. However, if you'll be having three or more holidays (and don't forget to include short breaks) an annual multi-trip policy will usually be better value.

Are all activities covered?

No, in fact many standard policies do not include cover for skiing and snow boarding, although most insurers will offer winter sports insurance as an extra and it isn't prohibitively expensive to add on.

Do I need cover if I have an EHIC card?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is essential for continental travel, providing reduced or free medical treatment within Europe.

However, It doesn't necessarily cover all the treatment you may need. Remember too that travel insurance also covers lost baggage, cancelled holidays and other, non-medical emergencies, so it's still useful, even if you have an EHIC.

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