Avoid holiday horrors in 2023 by getting the right travel insurance


With the early months of the year being a popular time to make holiday bookings, many people may already have a break planned for 2023. But with high living costs to worry about, keeping holiday-related expenses down will be a priority for most of us.

Aviva recently found a third (34%) of holidaymakers plan to take action to make their breaks less expensive this year, with 7% of those looking to save cash considering forgoing travel insurance.

This could turn out to be a very costly mistake, however, if holidaymakers become ill or have an accident while they’re away.

Louise Clark, policy adviser, general insurance, at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), says: “Most people remember their overseas break for all the right reasons, but for a few, their holiday turns into a horror day if they are injured or become ill, and need emergency medical treatment while abroad.”

Getting the right cover

Taking out travel insurance soon after you book can also mean you’re covered if you end up needing to cancel before jetting off.

Clark suggests: “Make sure you take [travel insurance] out as soon as you book your holiday. No one wants to think of anything going wrong when overseas, but if the worst happens, travel insurance could prove a financial lifeline.”

The cost of emergency medical treatment abroad can be huge.

Giving some examples, Clark says: “In one case, the medical bill for treating a holidaymaker injured in a fall in Spain and their safe return to the UK was a jaw-dropping £124,000.

“In another case, treating a traveller who contracted Covid while in Cyprus and their safe return cost £70,000. Both these bills were covered by travel insurance.”

Tailored policy

Policies vary, so it is also important when choosing holiday insurance cover to check the small print. Clark says: “Before you buy, make sure the travel insurance meets your needs, and you understand what you are covered for.”

And when you finally get to go on the trip, don’t forget to pack the details of your travel insurance in your suitcase – just in case – Clark adds.

If you plan to take part in certain activities, make sure your policy covers these too.

Clark explains: “For example, if you plan to do any potentially hazardous activities, such as jet-skiing, or if you’ll be abroad for longer than the maximum single-trip period covered by the policy, then you will need cover tailored to your needs. An insurance broker may be able to help you get the right policy.”

Brokers can also help people to shop around for cover to fit their specific needs if they have a pre-existing medical condition, or if they’re an older traveller, for example.

Pre-existing medical conditions

Getting appropriate cover can be particularly important for anyone with pre-existing health conditions.

“If you have any medical conditions, make sure you declare them so you can travel with peace of mind and not be liable for any emergency medical bills while on holiday,” says Graeme Trudgill, executive director of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA). “Suitable and competitive travel insurance is available for people with medical conditions, but you’re likely to benefit from speaking to a specialist broker who can advise on the type of cover you need and ensure you have adequate protection.

“BIBA’s Travel Medical Directory, which is recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority, can help you find a specialist broker – biba.org.uk/travel-medical-directory.”

Kelly Whittington, speciality claims director at insurer Aviva UK, says an annual multi-trip policy may be handy if you’re planning more than one holiday: “Most annual policies will have a day limit for each break, (often 31 days although extensions are often available), so make sure you are travelling within the policy terms.”

Depending on where you want to travel, choosing European cover only, if this is sufficient, rather than worldwide, could also help holidaymakers save some cash. Whittington also suggests weeding out any insurance add-ons, such as winter sports or golf cover, that you’re not using.

While these are useful if you are taking a specific type of holiday, Whittington says: “Make sure you aren’t taking out cover for things you won’t need this time, particularly if you are renewing.”

It’s also important to make sure you’re not doubling up when paying for your travel insurance, she adds, as some bank, building society and credit card accounts offer travel insurance as an added benefit.

“If you have personal belongings cover as an add-on to your home insurance, you may already have cover for personal possessions anywhere in the world,” says Whittington. “If you’re thinking of taking out travel cover for your belongings, it may be worth checking your home insurance policy terms first.”


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