If you’re planning a trip, travel insurance is a must: easier to overlook than your passport – but just as important. What’s more, with options such as multi-trip policies and niche travel bundles widely available, sorting out your insurance need not be a hassle. But when you buy a policy, what exactly are you getting for your money? Quite a lot, as it happens. To show what we mean, here’s a rundown of 10 of the less obvious benefits of typical policies.
Emergency medical cover
If your trip is within Europe, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that you are “fully covered” if you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). These cards cover “immediate and clinically necessary state-funded treatment” until you get home to the UK. As such, if you haven’t already, you should visit the official EHIC application page to obtain one.
Be aware that these cards do not cover you for any health care that would not normally be provided by the state that you are in – and state provision varies from country to country. Neither does the card cover repatriation; i.e. getting you home if you are too ill to board a commercial flight. Your travel insurance policy should cover all necessary treatment and repatriation.
Cover for pre-existing medical conditions (providing these are declared)
It is more difficult – but in most cases, it’s not impossible to get appropriate travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition. Specialist travel insurers such as Shield Total Insurance offer products designed specifically for travellers who may be struggling to find cover from more mainstream insurers.
Your cases going astray in transit can put a serious dampener on your holiday from day one. In the first instance, your travel operator should be able to help you in the hope that the baggage finds its way to you as quickly as possible. If they’re gone for good, travel policies commonly include a provision to compensate you for this.
As well as individual physical items such as cameras and phones, this can also include cash (up to a specified value) and losses arising out of the theft or loss of important travel documents such as travel tickets and passports. The precise amount you’re covered for varies, and there tends to be a single-article amount limit in place so check this carefully if you intend to take high-value items.
Injury, sickness, perhaps even being called up for jury service: unforeseen events can sometimes mean that the trip you’ve planned and looked forward to is now off the cards. A cancellation provision in the policy may cover you for non-refundable travel costs.
What if you’re called home to an emergency and have to make sudden (and expensive) alternative arrangements to get home? Under certain circumstances such as the death or sudden illness of a close relative, many policies include a specific provision for this.
Here, the first port of call should be the airline or travel company. But what the airline is legally required to pay you here, might not be a full reflection of your losses. However, a good travel insurance policy can fill in many of the gaps; potentially compensating you for items such as hotels and car hire where these costs are not met by the travel company.
Try and explain to the airline that a major rail problem caused you to miss your flight and you’re likely to be met by a brick wall. It’s possible for missed departure cover to be included in your policy – although you will of course need to supply evidence to show you did everything in your power to make the flight and you often have to arrive at the airport anyway.
This can cover the type of situation where someone alleges that they have suffered injury or damage as a result of fault on your part; if you lose control of a bicycle, for instance.
This can come into play where you suffer injury or illness as a result of the actions of a third party while on your trip. Even within the European Union, there can be big differences between countries in terms of the legal procedures. As such, access to specialist advice and coverage for legal costs can be especially valuable.
No-one likes the idea of having to pay for travel insurance. But once you see what’s included in a typical policy – and when you think about the cost and sheer hassle you’d be faced with if you didn’t have it, you realise just how valuable it can be.