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Travel insurance

Do I need travel insurance?

If you’re asking yourself ‘Do I need travel insurance?’ the answer is ‘yes’.

It’s not good enough to have just any travel insurance either, you need the right travel insurance. Your credit card insurance, or the basic insurance that comes with your flight may not be enough to cover you in event of an emergency, particularly medical emergencies.

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If you don’t have insurance, paying for a medical emergency could cost thousands of pounds, which you may not be able to afford, so it’s worth making sure you’re covered with adequate travel insurance before you go anywhere.

Here’s a useful checklist for making sure that your travel insurance covers you. Check that:

  • there’s a 24 hour emergency helpline;
  • you’re covered for lost or stolen items;
  • your medical and health insurance cover serious injuries, hospitalisation and sudden illness;
  • you’re covered if you need to cancel your trip or cut it short;
  • you’re covered if you’re going to be doing anything risky, such as skiing;
  • your policy covers the full cost of your holiday or if you need to cut a trip short due to illness or other circumstances;
  • your policy covers the cost of getting home.

Other types of travel insurance might include personal accident cover (including disability and death), cover for pregnancy, legal expenses or financial protection if your travel agency goes out of business. You may also want to opt for cover if anything should happen to your home while you are away.

How much not having travel insurance could cost

Every year the cost of hospital treatment in foreign countries is rising dramatically, which means it’s becoming more and more important to get medical insurance cover for when you go on holiday, as you may not be able to afford your own treatment if something should go wrong.

Stomach bugs, ear infections, allergies and heart trouble are the most common illnesses that are claimed for. Here are some hypothetical examples of reasonable costs to expect, according to the Association of British Insurers:

  • £11,000 would cover the cost of treating a broken arm in Spain.
  • £20,000 would cover treatment of a heart infection and bleeding on the brain, with transport back to the UK from Spain.
  • £86,000 would treat a heart attack with ambulance transport back to the UK

According to Sainsbury’s Finance, the average cost of inpatient treatment for gastroenteritis is as high as £1,200, or £200 for an insect bite and £275 for an ear infection.

European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC)

As well as travel insurance, you should have a European Health Insurance Card or EHIC. As a UK resident you’re entitled to state healthcare when visiting an EU country if you have an EHIC. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are also part of this scheme.Your card will be valid for up to five years. It’s important to remember that your EHIC doesn’t replace travel insurance, it just complements it.

Visit, get a form from your post office or call EHIC to apply for an EHIC card.

You can’t use the EHIC card to go abroad for medical treatment, but you are covered for routine and necessary visits to the doctor or hospital for certain pre-existing conditions, or if you’re pregnant.

You may be asked to contribute to the cost of your healthcare, but in some cases you can be reimbursed for those costs.

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