There’s an interesting question on our new forum about holiday insurance: should we bother with it if going on holiday to Europe? As Britons currently can get an EHIC which allows you to get the same level of free treatment as those in the European country you’re visiting, then it’s a valid question
But holiday insurance is vital. And it is cheap so not having it is a false economy. Use a comparison site – you could pay as little as £20 or so for family cover for a European trip. Do remember that you get what you pay for. The essential parts are personal liability and medical cover. Personal liability covers you for claims by third parties – so if you injured someone else while skiing in Colorado you’d be covered up to the limit for claims made against you. Look for at least £2 million in cover.
Medical cover is important because even if you have an EHIC, if you were seriously ill or injured, you’d need private treatment and possibly medical repatriation. The bills without medical cover could be horrendous. You should make sure your policy covers for at least £1 million for medical expenses if you’re going to Europe: double that if you’re off to the USA.
Other features that you might find important include cover for cancelling or cutting your holiday short – the Money Advice Service says a good plan will cover for £2,000 or more. But watch out as the terms and conditions on claiming for cancellation/curtailment can be onerous. Missed departure cover is often on policies – but you’ll only be covered if you can show you left enough time to get your plane. Plans will usually include cover for delay and abandonment of the holiday too. Cover for cash, lost passports, luggage are usually included unless you expressly decide to exclude them. Optional extras might include cover if the scheduled airline you’re booked on fails: this is possibly a good idea these days.
With travel cover, you’re going to find it difficult to claim for a stolen wallet if you left your beach bag unattended while swimming – and if you’re under the influence of too many Pina Coladas, claims for injury might be turned down. If you’re planning on taking part in hazardous sports (skiing, scuba etc) you’ll need to ensure you’ve got a policy covering these.
Do make sure you buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday – you’re then covered for cancellation (as long as this is included in your plan). And if you’re lucky enough to go away more than once a year then an annual policy will work out cheaper. Finally, check you’re not already got cover: some packaged bank accounts come with cover. There’s no point in over-insuring.
See the SMM guide to travel insurance here.