Where would you love to travel next?
Choose the right travel insurance. Photo: Thinkstock
“Medical insurance is an absolute must – or you could be faced with a huge bill if you have an accident.”
1. Don’t book travel insurance with a travel agent or tour operator
Or rather, don’t book it until you’ve compared their offer with a few others that you have obtained independently. Some travel agents or tour operators have financial agreements with specific insurance providers to promote their product exclusively and this might result in your paying premium prices for your insurance. The cover might also be inferior compared with policies obtained directly through an insurance company, broker or other financial intermediary. Of course, this isn’t always the case and any reputable travel agent should be more than happy for you to shop around in order to compare prices. You should at least get a rough idea of what the insurance should cost before you accept any offer.
2. Think about an annual policy
If you’re likely to travel abroad more than once a year, buying annual travel insurance could save you considerable money. This will cover multiple trips at little more than the cost of a single trip policy – and depending on the destination, it could be cheaper.
3. Get the right medical cover
Medical insurance is an absolute must when you travel abroad, or you could be faced with a huge bill if you have an accident or fall ill. The policy should cover transport home by air ambulance if necessary – you don’t want to be stranded abroad if a serious problem occurs. Always declare all pre-existing conditions, even if you think they’re unlikely to flare up while you’re away, or your entire policy could be invalidated. Which is bad news if you break a leg and the insurer asks for a report from your GP that mentions recent bypass surgery or angina medicines that you didn’t declare.
4. Read the small print
It might seem like boring detail, but it’s vital to know exactly what is and what is not covered by your policy. For Medical Emergencies and Evacuation, are you actually covered for evacuation? Can a relative accompany you? Is your cover unlimited, especially in the US? Is emergency dental work included? Does the Cancellation policy include illness (yours or a family member), jury duty, natural disasters or terrorist activity, for example? If your luggage is insured, is there a single-item limit? Are you covered for hotel theft? Is cash loss included? Does your personal-liability insurance cover car accidents? Are you insured against the costs incurred as a result of delayed flights? Insurance can be one of the things that people sometimes think they can skip to make a saving – and if you arrive home unscathed, you might certainly have saved a couple of hundred dollars. But, if your medical evacuation costs a small fortune, it might come to seem like a small saving.
5. Don’t over-insure
Before getting travel insurance, check your house-contents insurance – it may cover you for personal property abroad as well. And don’t forget that sometimes your bank or card company will throw in travel insurance if you pay for your holiday with a credit card – but check that it includes full medical cover.
6. Carry the details with you
You’ll need your insurance details to hand if you have an accident and require emergency treatment. Remember also that insurers often insist that any losses or thefts are reported within a set time, often 24 hours.
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