We’ve all seen the eye-catching advertisements – “Travel insurance from as little as £5 – why pay more?” and so on. Are these policies worth the paper they’re printed on, or are they a waste of money?
The answer is that they may be absolutely fine for your needs, but there are potential pitfalls with being attracted to a travel insurance policy by headline-grabbing cheap prices.
The obvious point is that a £5 policy is likely to be for 3 days in Europe or the Channel Islands, so if your trip is longer or further afield, the costs are going to be significantly higher.
Apart from that, there are many things that you should be looking for from a travel insurance policy, rather than just the price. The cheapest deals will have to meet certain standards. The insurance industry is well-regulated, so these entry level products are generally going to be OK these days, but do they match your own needs?
The Effect of Health Conditions
There are many aspects of a trip that could affect the cost of travel insurance and in many cases, the cheapest products may not measure up so well. For instance, your health. The cheapest policies often tend to exclude cover for any pre-existing medical conditions, whereas it is often possible to find a company that operates a medical screening facility, enabling certain medical conditions to be covered, albeit sometimes with additional conditions or cost. Similarly, ensure that the policy that you are considering will cover travellers of your age. Most policies have a maximum age and this tends to be lower on Long Stay policies.
The Impact of Activities
The cheapest policies often exclude cover for many sports and activities. These days, there are increasing opportunities for participation in adrenaline sports and other activities and many travellers are taking full advantage of this. It is vital to ensure that the travel insurance policy that you choose will cover you for taking part in these activities. Beware of policies that merely state that they cover “sports and activities”. You need to find one which specifically states that it covers the activity that you want to do. Wintersports, high altitude trekking, riding animals, skydiving, sailing, cycling and motorcycling and contact sports are examples of sports which are often excluded or may cost extra to cover. Many others are routinely excluded on some of the cheaper policies.
Many of the cheaper policies will not cover you for working abroad or volunteering. Whether the work is paid, unpaid, voluntary or charitable, you need to make sure that the policy that you choose will cover you in the event of accidents in the workplace.
You need to ensure that your mode of transport is not excluded by the travel insurance. If you are driving a car, riding a cycle, motorcycle or horse, you need to be sure that you are covered. Motorcycling, for instance, is often covered, but with a limit of 125cc and many conditions attached. If you are riding a bigger bike, it is unlikely to be covered on cheaper policies.
Individual Policy Limitations
It is essential to run through the limits of cover on travel insurance policies. Travel insurance tends to have very low limits for possessions, especially valuables. If you are travelling with expensive belongings, you may need to try to insure them elsewhere. Look for Single Item Limits and Total Valuables Limits. These will restrict the amount that you can claim for certain items. The cheaper policies will often have lower limits, but all policies will restrict claims for these items to some degree. It is quite common for the cheapest policies to exclude cover for personal possessions altogether, or have this as an optional extra at higher cost.
Likewise, be careful with the Cancellation cover. It’s no good buying a cheap policy with £1000 cancellation cover if you are booking a £2000 trip!
The policy wording documents can be tedious reading, but it is worth taking the time to study them and if in doubt, call the insurer and ask questions.
There is no point paying more than you need to for travel insurance, but you should never choose cover solely on price, there are many more important things to consider.