With the summer holidays just around the corner, families across the UK will be busy planning their annual exodus abroad.
But while it’s easy to spend the run-up to a trip reading travel guides and shopping for swimwear and sun-cream, one job you can’t afford to ignore is organising your travel insurance.
This may not be at the top of your to-do list, but is absolutely essential – even if you’re only heading to the Continent for a few days.
Don’t go without cover
Tempting as it may be to scrimp on cover, this is false economy, as without the right insurance in place, you are putting yourself at risk should anything to wrong.
In fact, worrying new figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show that uninsured Brits who fall ill on holiday this summer could face an extra £900 holiday bill.
Apply for an EHIC
If you’re travelling to Europe, the first thing you need to do is ensure you have a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in place.
Cards are free by visiting Nhs.uk or calling 0300 330 1350, and must be renewed every five years.
Once you’ve got your card, it’s important to understand the cover offered.
New findings from Asda Money show a third of parents think the card covers all insurance needs and eventualities in Europe, but this is not the case.
What exactly is covered by an EHIC?
An EHIC card entitles all UK travellers in the European Economic Area (EEA) to State-provided healthcare on the same basis as the locals; this may be provided for free or at a reduced cost.
That said, although an EHIC can be a big help, you cannot rely on the EHIC alone.
"The card will pay for the cost of medical treatment but may not cover everything that would be free on the NHS,” warns Malcolm Tarling from the ABI.
"It will also not cover the cost of medical repatriation back to the UK."
Take out comprehensive travel cover
When travelling overseas, you need to have travel insurance as well as an EHIC.
A comprehensive policy will offer far more extensive protection, including private medical costs and repatriation – as well as cover for cancellation and loss of possessions.
As a guide, you should look for a policy offering a minimum of £2million cover for medical expenses, £1million personal liability, £3,000 cancellation, £1,500 baggage, and £250 for cash.
Think about when you want the cover to start, as it’s well worth having it in place ahead of your holiday in case you need to cancel.
Equally, if you’re booking your flights and accommodation independently, rather than going on an ATOL-protected package holiday, you should also look for cover for "end supplier failure".
Check for cover for extreme activities
If you’re planning on taking part in “adventurous sports” during your time away, such as abseiling, hang-gliding or horse riding, you need to check your paperwork carefully.
"You may have to pay an additional premium if you want to be protected for these activities, so make sure you read the policy documents before purchasing cover," says Mhairi Edwards, travel product manager at Confused.com.
"Also note that many insurers will not pay out if you make a claim after consuming alcohol – so make sure you’ve read through the details of your policy so you know exactly what you’re covered for."
Tips to cut the cost of travel cover
If you’re looking to keep costs down, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the price of your premium.
If you go abroad more than twice a year, you may be able to make savings by purchasing an annual policy rather than a single trip policy.
You can also manage costs by removing any features that are duplicated on another of your policies.
This may be the case if, for example, your home insurance policy covers personal property away from home.
Call up the travel insurer and explain you don’t need baggage cover, and you may find you get offered a reduced premium.