Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Cheap Travel Insurance

Annual policy £13, family £30

Almost one in four Brits jet off without travel insurance, risking £1,000s in medical bills. If you've booked a trip but not insurance, do it NOW – it can cost as little as £13 for annual cover.

But it's not just about finding the best price, in this guide we also explain how travel insurance works and what to watch out for when you buy.

Travel insurance: Your 10 need-to-knows

travel insurance

The aim of travel insurance is to cover the cost of the unforeseen, such as illness and injury or theft of your personal possessions while you are on holiday. It's also designed to cover you if you have to cancel your trip, or need to return early due to an emergency. But before you buy, here are 10 things you should know.

  • Insurance is about covering the unpredictable

    "Why should I get travel insurance, I might not even use it?" you may ask. But the whole point of travel insurance is to cover you for the unforeseen – ie, unpredictable events that may (or may not) occur either before or during your holiday. You need to accept that, and as it's impossible to predict the future, all you can do is to give it your best shot. To sum up...

    Insurance is about making unpredictable events predictable in case the unpredictable happens.

  • Buy as soon as you've booked to cover cancellation and pre-trip illness

    If you’ve booked a holiday and think it's no biggie to leave insurance on the 'things to do' list, you're taking an unnecessary risk.

    Thinking you don’t need to arrange cover yet as your holiday’s not for another six months is a big mistake. In fact, it’s even more of a reason to arrange travel insurance, as anything can happen before your trip. Why? It's because travel insurance won't just cover you while you're away, it'll also cover you for cancellation or anything else that might go wrong BEFORE you make your trip.

    travel insurance
  • Never assume all policies are the same

    While choosing a travel insurance policy isn't rocket science, don't think you can buy cover without first giving it considerable thought. Policies vary greatly and each have their own inclusions and exclusions.

    Before you decide what you are going to buy ask yourself the following questions: Will I be bringing expensive personal belongings? Will I be carrying a relatively large amount of foreign currency? Am I taking part in winter sports? This will help you decide what cover's right for you.

    In our our best buys below we give you two choices. Annual policies, which meet our minimum criteria for various things, including cancellation and medical care, and our top pick policies, which not only meet our minimum criteria but also have a good record on claims, strong customer feedback and a history of paying out in extraordinary situations.

    What's typically covered under a travel insurance policy?

    What is typically left out of travel insurance cover?

    Does it matter which country I am going to?

    Am I covered for trips in the UK?

    What is an excess and how does it work?

    Does it matter what type of holiday I am going on?

    What should I check in my policy before I buy?

  • Going away twice or more this year? Annual cover is cheaper

    If you know you're going to travel at least twice in a 12-month period, consider an annual policy instead of single trip cover. This is because annual cover often works out cheaper than buying two single trip policies. But always do the calculations.

    Of course, this varies depending on where you're travelling and for how long, but if you get an annual policy you also have the added comfort of knowing if you have a third trip within that 12-month period, you already have the cover in force.

    How many days can I travel for on my annual policy?

  • Going to Europe? Don't forget your FREE EHIC

    travel insurance

    One of the most common areas of travel cover confusion is the role of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Many travellers wrongly assume it is a substitute for travel insurance.

    An EHIC entitles you to treatment in state-run hospitals in EU countries and Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. The card, which is free, allows you to be treated for the same cost as a local person using the same hospital. So if they pay nowt, you pay nowt. However, you can only use hospitals and doctors signed up to the EHIC scheme. If you are in any doubt, check with EHIC before starting treatment.

    However, the card should not be used instead of insurance. This is because travel insurance covers far more, including the costs incurred if treatment isn't free, cancellations, delays, repatriation and baggage loss or theft.

    For more info, including a country-by-country rundown, read the Free EHIC Card guide or get one direct from the EHIC website, a Post Office or by calling 0300 330 1350.

    Warning!

    Some websites will try to make you pay up to £25 for an EHIC. These dress up like legitimate sites, using search optimisation tricks to rank prominently on Google. They then get you to fill in forms, charging you for 'administration', even though there's no administration needed. See our 60 Seconds on Copycat Sites guide for more.
     

    Can my EHIC be used anywhere?

  • Check if you're already covered

    You may already have travel insurance without knowing. Many bank accounts that charge a monthly fee are likely to have extra benefits such as travel insurance (you could even get it for free if you have Nationwide's FlexAccount*, which is fee-free but includes travel cover). If you think you get insurance as a sweetener with your bank account, check the terms to see if it is appropriate for your trip.

    Do NOT confuse this with a benefit offered with credit cards called travel accident insurance, which only covers accidents on a train, plane or in a hire car paid for on the card. Never think this means you're completely covered.

  • This insurance should also not be confused with Section 75 legal protection – which covers you if you buy anything that costs between £100 and £30,000 using a credit card (not a debit card). See our Section 75 Protection guide for more on this.

    The main bank account that offers travel insurance is the free Nationwide FlexAccount*. For more info on that, and other accounts that may offer travel insurance, see our Best Premier Current Accounts guide.

  • If you're an older traveller, or there is one in your group, consider a separate policy

    travel insurance

    Group travel insurance premiums are based on the oldest traveller or the person deemed to be the highest risk, such as someone with pre-existing medical conditions. Insurers become more selective under these circumstances, and hike up premiums.

    If you, or someone in your party, is likely to pay more, a separate policy for that traveller may be the best option to avoid everyone paying over the odds.

    Here's an example:

    A family of four – a 66-year-old, a 40-year-old and two children under 18 – wants a European annual travel insurance policy. They have two options:

    Option 1: Take out an annual group policy – the cheapest we could find was £77.98.

    Option 2: Take out one policy for the 40-year-old and the two kids at a cost of £26.69, and a separate policy for the 66-year-old at a cost of £38.99. The total cost for both policies would be £65.68 – £12.30 cheaper than the group policy.

    However, one thing to be aware of is that if, for example, the 66-year-old fell ill and ended up in hospital and couldn't fly back at the end of the holiday, the 44-year-old and the kids would not get a payout for the cost of having to stay on as they are on a separate policy. If they were all on the same policy they would all be covered for staying.

    My partner and I are both under 65. Should we buy a joint policy?

  • Always declare your medical conditions, or your claim may be rejected

    The thought of having to declare medical conditions can be daunting but travelling without making your insurer aware of any issues can result in any claim you make being rejected. Make sure you give a full and frank run down of all the health issues you have that will be relevant to your policy.

    Pricing radically changes depending on who you are so it's important to disclose everything. However, the rules around disclosure are changing and from August 2016 insurers will be unable to unfairly reject customers' claims if they've given the wrong information about a part of their policy that is irrelevant to their claim (see the news story: New insurance laws will stop insurers wriggling out of claims). But until then... If your insurer doesn’t know about your conditions they will be excluded and you could face a massive bill if you need treatment.

    Remember, if you have an annual policy and your circumstances change, or you become ill, let your insurer know. For more, see our pre-existing medical conditions travel insurance guide.
  • Going skiing? Make sure you've got winter sports cover

    travel insurance

    Winter sports can be dangerous, so as soon as you've splashed out on your break, make sure you are insured on the slopes. As well as covering you for the basics you'd get under a standard travel policy, you'll also be insured for activity-related injury and your winter sports equipment.

    Is winter sports cover automatically included?

    Is it worth getting a basic policy and hoping for the best?

    Do I need extra cover if I want to go off-piste?

    I am skiing twice this year. Should I get an annual policy with winter sports cover?

    Can I claim for piste closure?

    Is my equipment covered? What if it is rented?

    What happens if I have an accident while I am a little tipsy?

  • Don't overpay on your insurance. Costlier cover is rarely worth it

    Insurance providers go all out to scare us into upping cover levels. Don't be duped into upgrading for no reason. Platinum policies with £10m medical cover are bunkum.

    "Why," you may ask? Well, you're charged more but the chances of you making a claim that high are incredibly slim. According to the Association of British Insurers, the average cost of a medical travel insurance claim in 2013 was £930 – a far cry from £10m!

Best buys: Annual travel insurance for under 65s

The big question to ask yourself is – are you going away at least twice in the next 12 months? If so, consider an annual policy, if not go for single trip.

Below we list the cheapest annual policies for all travellers aged under 65 and without medical conditions which meet our minimum criteria (see our over 65s and pre-existing conditions travel guides for more).

Find the best policy for you

Select your options to see the best deals for you

Age of the oldest traveller?
What do you want cover for?
Include basic winter sports?

An error has occured please try again

Your results: The cheapest policies

Here we’ve analysed 21 cheap travel insurers to find the cheapest deals ensuring that the policies meet our minimum cover criteria.

ProviderWorldwide CoverEurope(ish) Cover
Nationwide FlexAccount - bank accountFrom: Free (details below)From: Free (details below)

Your results: Our best value policy

This is our top pick policy that meets our minimum criteria (so the same as for our cheapest policies) but also has good feedback, a history of paying out in extraordinary situations, such as 2010’s volcanic ash disruption and a proven track record for paying out claims.

ProviderWorldwide CoverEurope(ish) Cover

FREE cover is possible via your bank

You may already have travel insurance if you pay a monthly fee for a bank account. If you believe you get insurance as a sweetener with your bank account, check the terms to see if it is appropriate for your trip.

The details of the top one, the Nationwide FlexAccount* – which is also FREE to use – are listed below. For more bank accounts which offer travel insurance, see our Bank Accounts with Benefits guide.

MBNA* - 32 months 0%, 2.69% fee from other cards, 4% to bank accounts

Free cover with your bank account

Nationwide Flex Account*

While most travellers have to shell out extra for their cover, Nationwide FlexAccount* account holders get travel insurance for free. But remember to check the full details of the policy before you travel to make sure it meets your needs. More on the Nationwide FlexAccount* in our Bank Accounts with Benefits guide.

Is it worth it? Considering the account is free the insurance offered by the Nationwide FlexAccount* is a good option. However, if you need family cover or winter sports, for example, it might be cheaper to look elsewhere.

Stats box
  • Cost of the account: £0
  • Individual/family: Individual only (family can be added for an additional premium)
  • Europe/worldwide: Europe (worldwide for an additional premium)
  • Maximum age: 74 (can be extended beyond 74 for £50/year)
  • Days per trip: 31 | Cancellation: £5,000
  • Medical limit: £10m | Baggage: £1,500 (single item limit £300)
  • Money: £500 (cash £250) | Excess: £50 | Winter sports: For an additional premium

Best buys: Single travel insurance for under 65s

If you are only going on holiday once in the next year, a single trip policy could be the cheapest option.

For those aged 35 and under, prices range from £6 for a single Europe trip with Protect Your Bubble Economy*  to £62.80 for a worldwide family policy with winter sports with LeisureGuard Lite*.

If you're 35 or over, prices range from £6.50 for a single Europe trip or £62.80 for a family worldwide policy including winter sports with LeisureGuard Lite*.

It's cheaper with certain combinations of age, location and number of travellers to go with Holidaysafe* so if you've time always check it as well. For a wider selection of insurers, check out a comparison site such as MoneySupermarket*, Confused* and GoCompare*.

How to claim on your travel insurance

travel insurance

Claiming on your travel insurance shouldn’t be daunting and – if you understand the terms and excesses on your policy – you shouldn’t be in for any nasty shocks. Follow the five steps below in the event you need to claim.

  • Submit your claim as soon as possible

    Contact your insurer as soon as you can. Some parts of your policy may have a short window to submit a claim and it may take a while to be processed. Don't delay making contact.

  • If it's a medical claim get an insurer to accept it first

    If you need medical attention – and it is not an emergency – get an insurer to accept the claim first. If the insurer accepts the claim, you won’t be faced with a bill following treatment if your claim is eventually rejected. For obvious reasons, don’t delay treatment if it is an emergency.

  • If it's a theft or loss claim notify the police

    If something goes missing or is stolen when you are abroad you may need to get a crime reference number or the overseas equivalent to make a successful claim. Report the incident to the police as soon as you can – you often have to do it within 24 hours – to make sure your claim doesn’t hit the skids.

  • Keep your receipts

    If you are claiming for lost luggage or delay, remember to keep receipts of essential items you have bought in the interim, such as food and drink. Many insurers allow you to add these expenses to a claim and may ask for receipts as proof.

  • Complain if you feel your claim was unfairly rejected

    If your insurance company rejects your claim and you think it has done so wrongly, do not take it lying down. Complain to the free Financial Ombudsman. The ombudsman is an independent adjudicator that will make the final decision on a claim if you are locked in a dispute with your insurer. For more on how to make a complaint, read our Financial Rights guide.

How to complain about your insurance provider

The insurance industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include claims either not being paid out on time or at all, unfair charges, or exclusions being hidden in the small print. It’s always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you’re having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It’s totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver will automatically escalate it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that’s usually quicker.