Saving in all-year travel cover: As people go abroad more often, annual policies may have attractions over single-trip deals

ONE-TRIP travel insurance is dead. Long live yearly travel insurance. For increasing numbers of business travellers and holiday-makers, taking out cover for just one trip no longer makes sense.

Gone are the days when cover was an optional extra booked through a travel agent for the once-yearly foreign holiday.

More and more families and individuals are going abroad at least twice a year. Packed early-morning flights to most European destinations and 'red-eye' journeys across the Atlantic attest to the growing trend for overseas business travel.

Those who combine such travel with family holidays abroad could find that yearly travel cover is even more worthwhile.

To cater for this growing trend, insurers are launching a range of one-year cover packages. For one premium, travellers are covered no matter how many times they go abroad, for periods of up to three months each time.

Towry Law, an insurance broker, launched its own annual policy last week. Roger Parkinson, one of the company's directors, said: 'Everyone who makes one or more trips abroad needs to look at yearly cover.

'Even a family on a two- week holiday to Florida will save money on the cost of a conventional one-off policy. Although most package holidays usually include insurance cover, you can easily contract out if you choose.'

Earlier this month, Halifax Building Society launched its own annual worldwide travel policy. For individuals the cost is pounds 90, while families of up to three children aged under 18 pay pounds 125 a year.

By contrast, a family of four taking a two-week holiday in Europe would pay pounds 66.80 for two weeks' cover through Halifax. For two weeks in Florida, the cover would cost pounds 140 - more than the annual policy.

The annual cover offers up to pounds 3,000 compensation for holiday cancellation, pounds 300 for missed departure in Europe and pounds 600 worldwide. Smaller amounts are also payable for travel delay.

Personal accident cover is pounds 15,000 for death and pounds 25,000 for permanent total disablement. Unlimited medical and other expenses are met, and emergency repatriation is also included. Personal liability cover of up to pounds 2m is available.

Lloyds Bank has also joined the scramble to sign up people for annual travel cover. Its policy costs pounds 95 for individuals, or pounds 126.50 for families with two children. Customers who already have home contents insurance that includes personal possessions and money cover while away from home qualify for a 15 per cent discount.

While most of its terms are similar to those of the Halifax, the bank's policy also throws in 17 days' winter sports cover at no extra cost.

TSB has also entered the fray with a policy that costs pounds 95 for individuals and pounds 150 for a family with three children.

It offers optional Activity Care cover, starting at pounds 12 per person, for adventurous sports such as mountaineering or pot-holing.

Towry Law's Options scheme costs pounds 125 for two adults. Children under 18 can be added for pounds 15 a time, while other family members are covered for pounds 45. Car breakdown cover costs a further pounds 40.

While its scheme is more expensive than others, Towry Law has a cheaper pounds 80 option for those prepared to forgo baggage and money claims covered under their household policies. A child adds pounds 10.

Next weekend, the Independent and Independent on Sunday will be launching their own one-year cover scheme through General Accident, a large insurer.

Aimed more at holiday makers than at business travellers, this policy will cost pounds 42 for individuals aged up to 64 who are going on trips of up to 31 days in Europe, and pounds 75 if they want worldwide cover.

Skiing holidays are included in the package.

Families with two children up to 15 years old pay pounds 88 for European holiday cover and pounds 140 for worldwide cover.

While this policy is cheaper than most for simple holidays, anyone hoping to combine it to cover business travel or longer trips will have to pay more than they will with many other insurers - up to as much as pounds 160 for the full worldwide family option.

----------------------------------------------------------------- COSTS OF ANNUAL TRAVEL POLICIES, pounds ----------------------------------------------------------------- MAXIMUM COVER MAXIMUM COST LENGTH Medical Cancel Baggage Liability Days Skiing Indiv. Family Amex 2m 7,500 2,000 2m 91 yes 79.50 120* Abbey 2.5m 2,500 1,500 2m 31 yes 92 130* Barclays 2m 2,000 1,000 2m 90 yes 97.50 125* Bradford & Bingley 5m 5,000 1,500 2m 90 yes 75 157 Columbus 1m 1,000 500 1m 60 no** 67 111 Thomas Cook Unltd 5,000 1,500 2m 60 yes 125 270* Halifax Unltd 3,000 1,500 2m 31 yes 90 125* Leeds 5m 3,000 1,500 2m 31 yes 89.50 126* Lloyds 2m 3,000 1,500 2m 90 yes 95 126.25 Marcus Hearn 5m 2,000 1,000 1m 120 no** 95 150 N&P (ind) 2m 2,500 1,000 1m 90 yes 75 137.50* N&P (fam) 2m 3,000 1,250 2m 92 Towry Law 1m 2,500 1,500 1m 60 yes 95 155 TSB 5m 3,000 1,500 2m 31 no* 95 150* The Independent 2m 3,000 1,500 1m 31 yes 75 140 ----------------------------------------------------------------- * Three children or more. ** Skiing extra. Lower rates for Europe only from The Independent and TSB. -----------------------------------------------------------------

(Photograph omitted)

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