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SMM ALERT: is your under-18 properly insured when travelling independently?

girl suitcaseThere are plenty of reasons for your child to be travelling without you this summer. Off they trot (with the suitcase you have carefully packed) on the school trip or for a holiday with a friend’s family. Great for them to experience being away from home for a bit. But, travelling without you, are they properly insured?

An SMM reader contacted me last week to raise the issue (thanks TL!). She is taking her family plus her daughter’s friend away for a week and realised that her family insurance policy didn’t include guests. Meanwhile, it transpired that the daughter’s friend wouldn’t be covered by her family’s policy because she was travelling independently. If the worst happened, TL figured, quite rightly, an EHIC card (see below) wouldn’t be enough.

This caused a flurry at Minted HQ because Dear Daughter is due to go to France with a friend’s family next month. I had no idea if the Minted policy with justtravelcover.com covers her solo or not. A little investigation revealed it did, so long as she is with someone else who has a “legal duty of care”. That could be a teacher on a school trip, a relative or in fact anyone over 18, the helpline told me. Good – and let’s hope all calls are recorded.

But many policies don’t stretch that far. If your child isn’t insured, you’ll need to buy separate cover. Luckily they’re not expensive: less than £10 in most cases for a week in Europe. As with all travel insurance though, you need to be aware of what activities your child may do and whether they are included on the policy. I looked at Go Compare and MoneySuperMarket* which had a good choice.

I would recommend calling your chosen company just to double check your child fits in the age range. I would also fling in an EHIC card if you don’t have one. It allows you to get free or discounted emergency healthcare in most European countries, see my blog here. Another option is for the hosts to see if a guest can be added as a one-off on to their existing policy.

Finally I’d advise you to write a letter giving permission to take your child on holiday and give it to the hosts to take with them. I have been stopped many times by Border Control because my surname is different to my children’s. I now carry copies of their birth certificates as a matter of routine. A letter of consent is a handy document to produce should any questions be asked.

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Thursday, 13 December 2018