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Thinking about travel insurance

hospitalOn top of the cost of accommodation, flights, tax and excess luggage fees comes the most loathsome part of foreign travel for many tourists: insurance. Whether you need it for your trip is something you can only know when it’s too late – if you wind up in a doctor’s office, a hospital bed, or even being lifted off a mountain by air ambulance.

In tight economic times, travel insurance is the corner a lot of people are cutting in an attempt to save money from their trip. While 20% of holidaymakers travelled abroad without insurance in 2011, the figure rose to 24% last year. Skimping is at its highest among young people, with 48% of 15-24-year-olds travelling without cover.

Of course, if you have a blip-free holiday, this is money saved. But if something happens – if your flights are dramatically delayed, or you get ill – it can be a costly oversight. And besides the cost, which is the biggest reason people do without travel insurance, there is a fear that even if something does happen, it may not be covered.

A lot of insurance companies hide their exceptions in the small print. So for example, a lot of people who get injured skiing later discover their basic insurance plan doesn’t cover sports injuries, even though this was a major reason they purchased insurance in the first place. It’s understandable, after some horror stories of people not being covered for incidents for which they assumed they were protected, that people are thinking twice about forking out for insurance.

The key to knowing whether it’s worth getting travel insurance is knowing exactly what will be covered with and without insurance. So for example, learning that basic medical care is covered within the EU – including sporting injuries – but things such as being airlifted from a ski slope aren’t. If you’re travelling with valuables, make sure you know exactly how much you are insured for, and the conditions under which you are covered for loss or damage. And, crucially, how big the bill will be if the unexpected does happen.

Only by being informed can you make the right decision.

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