Travel insurance warning as holidaymakers told to be prepared this summer

The tips that could save you thousands of pounds this summer

Vicky Shaw
Monday 17 June 2024 10:11 BST
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Flames burn a forest during a wildfire in Giannouli village, in the northeastern Evros region, Greece
Flames burn a forest during a wildfire in Giannouli village, in the northeastern Evros region, Greece

The idea of something going wrong on holiday isn’t something many of us want to contemplate. But sometimes it can happen.

A holiday is often among the biggest “one-off” expenses of the year and when you’re booking it’s important to make sure you’re adequately covered, should the worst happen.

Kelly Whittington, travel claims director at Aviva, says travel insurance can give people “valuable peace of mind”.

She explains that the range of potential travel insurance claims “could involve an accident or an illness while abroad which requires medical assistance, theft of personal possessions while overseas, or an incident before the break which means a holidaymaker needs to cancel their trip, such as an injury or a bereavement”.

Here are some tips from Whittington on the travel insurance pitfalls to avoid when considering travel cover:

1. Leaving it until the last minute to take out cover.

“Crucially, people should buy travel cover as soon as they book their holiday,” says Whittington.

“This means that if they need to cancel their holiday because of an unforeseen event, such as an illness or injury, their insurer should cover any costs that can’t be recovered elsewhere.

“If someone plans to buy their insurance at the airport, they won’t be covered if an emergency happens two weeks before their departure date.”

2. Not checking the small print to make sure a policy fits your own needs.

Whittington says that, for example, holidaymakers planning to go scuba diving or engage in other sports should check that they would be covered under their policy.

Holidaymakers are being urged to avoid insurance excess waivers offered by car hire companies costing up to 12 times more than alternatives (Alamy/PA)
Holidaymakers are being urged to avoid insurance excess waivers offered by car hire companies costing up to 12 times more than alternatives (Alamy/PA)

She adds: “Similarly, people should check that their cover is valid for their destination country. Most insurers will offer either worldwide or European travel insurance, which provides cover in certain parts of the globe.

“Worldwide policies can include USA, Canada and the Caribbean, although most will stipulate the countries it covers.

“The same goes for European insurance policies, which can vary from provider to provider. Checking your policy documents will only take a few minutes, but could save you thousands of pounds in the event you need to make a claim and your policy doesn’t cover your destination country.”

3. Not disclosing medical conditions.

Holidaymakers should also tell their insurer about their medical history – and any health changes that occur between them purchasing cover and travelling, says Whittington.

She explains: “This allows the insurer to appropriately assess the medical risks each customer poses, along with any other risks, in order to provide cover at a fair price.”

Finding affordable cover can be tougher for people with a history of significant medical conditions – but there is support available.

Charity Macmillan Cancer Support has information to help people with cancer when they are considering travel insurance.

Recent research by Macmillan and YouGov indicated that one in four (24%) people in the UK who has had a cancer diagnosis has serious concerns about travel insurance.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association has a directory of specialist providers on its website for people who need travel insurance and have a serious medical condition.

4. Not shopping around.

In addition to Whittington’s tips, make sure you compare quotes from a selection of providers, to find the best deal to suit your needs.

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