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What is travel insurance?

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Travel insurance is a policy that can protect you should an accident or loss occur, prior or during your trip in the UK or abroad.

The protection can cover you in case your flight is cancelled, your hotel is unavailable, you fall sick or are injured while you are away. Or your belongings, gadgets or money are lost or stolen. 

You can buy individual, couple or family travel insurance, and you can choose from a single trip to a named destination, or a multi-trip policy which lasts for a year.

You might need to take out a specialist policy or specify if you plan to undertake water sports or skiing, if you're going on a cruise, or if you have any existing medical conditions.

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COVID-19 and travel insurance

It's important to get travel insurance to cover a range of risks, and find out how much you insurer will provide for COVID-19 related issues.

If you decide to travel against government advice or to a country that the FCO advises against travelling to, then you will not be covered by a travel insurance policy.

Do I need travel insurance?

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It's not a legal requirement to have travel insurance, but is a very good idea. Firstly, you will be covered if your holiday is cancelled or your hotel is unavailable.

You will also be covered for medical expenses, which is very important when you are outside the UK as most countries do not offer free healthcare.

If you were to need urgent medical treatment in the US or Europe, you would be charged for your care. That could run into hundreds and maybe thousands of pounds.

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Types of travel insurance

Single trip travel insurance

Single trip travel insurance, covers you just for one holiday to one destination and is the cheapest option if you just have one trip arranged.

Annual travel insurance

Annual travel insurance, covers multiple trips abroad during a 12-month period. You will need to specify what countries you are planning to visit. For example, if you are only planning to travel within Europe it will be cheaper than a worldwide policy.

Worldwide policy

If you're travelling outside Europe, you will need to buy a worldwide policy. The price will depend on where you are going to visit. For example, a trip to the US will increase the cost of your travel insurance because medical care there is very expensive.

When to take out travel insurance

  • When you book a trip it's a good idea to book travel insurance at the same time

  • Be prepared to change your travel plans and/or cancel

  • Flexible flights or holiday packages make it easier to make alternations in the future

At this point in time, no one can reliably predict how travel rules and regulations might change this summer.

Although travel insurance can cover you for some risks, it will not cover every possible problem connected with the coronavirus.

What is the best travel insurance to get?

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The best type of travel insurance is the one that best fits the holiday you are going on.

If you're making a single trip and don’t plan any more holidays this year, a straightforward policy to the country you are visiting will be most suitable.

However, if you're planning a couple of holidays, or have an itinerary with multiple trips, you may be better getting an annual travel insurance policy. 

The whole process should only take a couple of minutes:

  • put in the details of your party

  • age

  • destination

  • dates of travel

When you have chosen which cover you would like to buy you can filter the results based on medical cover, cancellation cover, baggage cover or the amount of excess you need to accept.


What cover is there for healthcare post Brexit?

What cover is there for healthcare post Brexit?

Many people may still have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which entitles UK citizens to healthcare within the EU. It is not a substitute for travel insurance, but it does cover you if you are ill or have an accident in an EU country. The Brexit agreement means that the EHIC cards can still be used until their expiry date. They cover pre-existing medical conditions and there are an estimated 27 million in issue.

Once your EHIC has expired, or if you have never had a EHIC, you will need to apply for a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Unlike the EHIC, the GHIC does not cover medical treatment in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. The GHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance as it does not cover repatriation, cancelled flights, or problems with your accommodation.

What does travel insurance cover?

What does travel insurance cover?

Travel insurance can help cover your costs or reimburse you if:

  • You fall ill or are injured while you’re away

  • Your possessions are lost, damaged or stolen

  • Your trip is cancelled or abandoned for a specified reason

Depending on the type of policy you choose, you could be covered for extras such as delayed baggage, loss of travel documents, missed excursions and many more.

You might need to take out a specialist policy or specify if you plan to undertake any extreme or winter sports, if you are going on a cruise, or if you have any existing medical conditions.

Some policies exclude more dangerous activities such as riding jet skis or scuba diving.

You can take out a travel insurance policy for just yourself, joint cover for you and partner, or insurance for your whole family or group.

Find more details on what travel insurance covers.

Why would you need travel insurance?

Why would you need travel insurance?

In the UK we are used to having free healthcare and free treatment at hospitals for Accident and Emergency, but this is not the case in the rest of the world.

Many countries ask people to pay for medical treatment and this can end up being very expensive if you need medical help while you are abroad particularly in the United States with some medical bills reaching tens of thousands of pounds. Some private hospitals will refuse to treat you unless you can prove that you will be able to settle your medical bill, or you have travel insurance policy documents to show them.

A travel insurance policy will mean that you can claim back any costs that you incur if you are sick or injured while you are away, as well as the cost of flying you home if you need further treatment in the UK.

A holiday insurance policy also covers you if your flight is cancelled or your hotel is not available, and if you lose valuables or money during your trip. It gives you peace of mind so you can enjoy your holiday

When should I buy travel insurance cover?

When should I buy travel insurance cover?

It might be tempting to put it off until your suitcases are packed, but it’s advisable to get travel insurance as soon as your holiday is booked.

If you buy travel insurance with cancellation cover, you’ll be covered from the moment you buy the policy, rather than the start of your trip. That means you can claim if your flight or holiday is cancelled due to circumstances beyond your control.

It’s worth checking the policy details as most insurers will lay out specific circumstances in which they will pay out on cancellation cover, for example if you can no longer travel because you fall ill, become unemployed, or have to deal with the death of a family member.

How much does travel insurance cost?

How much does travel insurance cost?

Cover could cost as little as a few pounds for a short trip in Europe, for example, but the cost will vary depending on how comprehensive the policy is and any extras that are included.

The price will depend on many factors including where you are travelling to, your age, and how much cover you need.

You might find it’s more expensive to cover cruises, winter sports and existing medical conditions — but it’s important to weigh up the value of the cover compared to the cost of your holiday. You should also consider the cost of receiving emergency medical care, as this can quickly build up to thousands in the worst case.

You can find out how much travel insurance will cost you by getting a quote below. It takes just a few minutes and you don’t need to provide many details.

How to compare travel insurance

How to compare travel insurance

Don’t just choose the cheapest travel insurance. Use our travel insurance comparison tool to look at the options available and select the best travel insurance for you based on where you are going and what cover you will need.

Getting a travel insurance quote

Getting a travel insurance quote

Our travel insurance comparison tool means when you need to compare travel insurance, getting a quote is simple and easy. Firstly, put in where you are going and for how long, then provide details of yourself and the other people in your party. You will need to let us know if anyone has a pre-existing medical condition. Once you have put in all the details, we will give you a quote or a range of quotes. The whole process should only take a couple of minutes. When you have chosen which cover you would like to buy you can filter the results based on medical cover, cancellation cover, baggage cover or the amount of excess you need to accept.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you can still get a quote. These conditions could include cancer, stroke, serious heart, respiratory and terminal conditions.

Some insurers might not cover you if you already have a serious medical condition, or if you have a number of conditions. Others might only offer insurance at a much higher price. If you're unable to find suitable cover, the Money and Pension Service (MaPS) has also set up a directory of insurers willing to cover customers with pre-existing medical conditions.

You can contact the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) or you can telephone 0800 138 7777.

Then when you have chosen the right travel insurance cover for you, you can buy online by clicking through. It is that simple!

COVID-19 restrictions

Am I covered for COVID-19 by travel insurance?

A travel insurance policy should cover you if you're unable to travel because you have tested positive for COVID-19. You'll likely need to provide proof of this when you make your claim.

However, each insurance policy will be different, therefore, it's important to look at the small print when you are comparing policies.

What if my destination goes into lockdown or won’t admit me?

UK travel insurance companies will most likely follow the advice of the Foreign Office regarding travelling abroad if there's another lockdown.

If the Foreign Office advice is not to travel, your UK travel insurance will probably not cover you for travel. In this event you may be able to rearrange flights for a later date or different destination.

How do I make a travel insurance claim?

How do I claim on my travel insurance? Find out how to make a successful travel insurance claim if the worst does happen on your holiday.

Single trip travel insurance

Find out if a single trip travel insurance policy is the best choice for you. Your questions on how to get cheap single trip travel insurance answered.

Annual travel insurance

Find out if annual travel insurance (also known as multi-trip cover) is the best choice for you. All your questions answered, plus tips for getting the best deal.

Holiday checklist for your finances

This is a holiday checklist with in a difference; instead of telling you what to put in your suitcase, it tells you what you need in your wallet.

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Last updated: July 27, 2023