You’ve bought an annual family travel insurance policy thinking you’re covered for everything from your two-week summer holiday to city breaks on Eurostar.
But what happens if your children go on holiday with your ex-partner, or if their grandparents treat them to a trip to EuroDisney?
While adults on a family policy can usually travel independently and still be covered, it’s not always the same story for your children.
It is well worth checking your policy first as the consequences can be costly if your kids need medical treatment abroad or lose their luggage.
Almost half of annual family policies won’t cover children if they’re travelling independently, according to research by Defaqto and this includes family policies from many of the big names including the AA, Admiral, Boots and the Post Office along with Halifax, Lloyds TSB and Nationwide.
On the flip side, if you’re the one trying to get family cover for a planned holiday, but your children don’t live with you permanently or your family includes step-children, you need to shop around carefully or you could be forced to shell out on stand-alone policies or even pay the full adult rate for them.
Who will cover kids travelling independently?
Direct Travel is one of the insurers that extends its family cover to children travelling independently, either with another adult or even solo; say if your 17-year-old is backpacking around Europe with school friends.
And Marks & Spencer Money says under its Premier travel insurance, children are covered to travel separately providing those under 16 travel with an adult.
It’s a similar story with Churchill, which says its family policy also covers children when they’re travelling independently.
As always, there are trip limits which can be anything from around 21 to 45 days; although in some cases you can pay more to extend cover for a longer period.
And which ones won’t?
Both Halifax and Lloyds TSB insist any children covered under an annual family policy must travel with at least one of the adults listed on the policy or they won’t be insured. And Nationwide says its annual family policy won’t cover children travelling without one of the insured adults if they’re under 16. Over that age they’re only protected if you’ve asked for “unaccompanied travel” cover.
Cover for step-children
Getting family cover for a group that includes step-children, or even your own children if they don’t live with you full-time, can be tricky, as for insurance purposes a family is often classed as whoever lives in your household permanently.
Alliance & Leicester’s annual family multi-trip policy extends both to your own children – whether they live with you or not – and to any step children, as do Hastings Direct’s and Direct Travel’s policies.
Shop around is the message: if holidays mean a mix of trips with the kids, some as a couple and some taking your partner’s children, check the policy terms and conditions before buying.
And even with travel insurance it’s worth making sure everyone travelling has their own European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles UK residents to free emergency medical treatment across the European Union. While it’s no alternative to a comprehensive travel policy, it can mean you avoid paying the excess you’d incur if making a claim on your travel policy. You can apply for a free EHIC online and at the Post Office.