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Six travel insurance traps to avoid

Travel insurance policy beside a globeTravel insurance is a holiday essential provided you get the right sort of cover. Mhairi Edwards, head of travel at Confused.com, explains all.

As head of travel for Confused.com I spend a lot of time trying to convince people of the importance of taking out travel insurance.

So you can imagine how annoyed I was to come across a recent article in a national newspaper warning travellers holiday cover isn't worth the paper it's written on.

How to get the right travel cover

However, once I got past the scaremongering headline, it became apparent that the journalist had inadvertently stumbled across a valid point.

The point? The right cover can prove invaluable, but buy the wrong insurance policy for your needs and you could find yourself seriously under-protected should something go wrong.

So, here's my round-up of the six things you need to consider when buying travel insurance.

1. Medical cover

This is probably the most important aspect of travel insurance.

Figures from the Association of British Insurers show that something as simple as an overnight stay at a hospital in Spain can cost around £3,000.

And a broken leg in the USA could set you back £40,000.

I would recommend a minimum of £2 million medical cover, rising to £5 million if travelling to the USA. Even the most basic policy should give you cover at these levels.

2. Missed flight cover

It's true that many travel insurance policies won't pay out if it appears you didn't leave yourself enough time to get to the airport.

It may sound harsh but travel insurance is there to protect you for events you couldn't reasonably have avoided.

So if you've slept-in and missed your flight as a result it's unlikely you'll get a payout.

However, if the airport transfer bus broke down and the plane left without you this is out of your control, so your policy should cover you.

3. Lost luggage

Baggage carouselIt sounds obvious, but when you're choosing your policy check that the baggage cover is going to be suitable for everything you plan to take with you.

A fairly standard policy could give you £1,000 per person baggage cover.

This is probably enough for most people but you may want to lower or increase your cover.

Also, many policies will specify that you need to keep expensive items such as laptops and cameras in your hand luggage.

4. Mobile phone cover

It’s true that many travel policies won't cover a smartphone.

So if you can't bear to leave yours behind then it may be worth paying a little bit extra and adding gadget insurance to your policy.

Both Big Blue Cover and Insurefor allow you to add this feature to your travel policy to provide cover for up to seven gadgets.

You may also find that your home contents insurance policy might cover your smartphone while you're away from home, so you may not need this cover at all.

5. Activities

Travel insurance providers aren't expecting you to sit quietly in the hotel for the duration of your holiday so most will cover a certain number of activities as standard.

If you're injured playing on the beach, kicking a rugby ball around with the kids or on a bike ride around the town, then most policies will pay out.

Many will even cover things like bungee jumping as part of a basic policy.

However, as always, the key is to check the policy small print before you buy to ensure you'll be covered for any activities you've planned.

6. Support your claim

As with most insurance policies, it's likely your provider will ask you for proof to support your claim before they'll pay out.

If you're a victim of crime make sure you report it to the police and get a crime number.

If your plane is delayed and you miss a connecting flight be sure to get proof of this from the airline.

It may be the last thing you feel like doing but it will make the claims process so much simpler.

Travel insurance is a holiday essential

I'd hate to think that people might find themselves stuck with a massive medical bill abroad or paying for a flight they missed through no fault of their own.

Don't dismiss travel insurance on the basis of a few inadequate policies.

Instead take the time to make sure you have the right cover. It's one of the most important holiday decisions you make - and certainly worth the paper it's written on.

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Mhairi Edwards

Mhairi Edwards

Mhairi Edwards is head of travel at Confused.com. Mhairi is the first port-of-call for all things travel insurance and holiday-related.

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