cheap travel insurance

Cheap Travel Insurance

Get annual cover from £13/yr, or less for single trip cover

Travel restrictions have begun to ease, and if you're thinking of taking a trip over the coming months, getting travel insurance as soon as you've booked is vital. But, while policies generally cover Covid medically, there are a whole host of scenarios around the pandemic where you just won't be covered. We take you through what to watch out for, and our top-pick travel insurance policies (all of which have a decent level of coronavirus cover).

Warning! Check your trip is allowed before booking


While the Government has announced a short list of "green" countries travellers from England will be able to visit from 17 May, almost none are currently letting travellers from the UK in. It's also advising against leisure travel to amber and red list countries. 


In addition, the Welsh and Scottish governments and the Northern Ireland assembly have not announced any loosening of restrictions. Always check both your country's and your destination's restrictions before booking. If you travel against advice, or have to cancel because you legally can't go, you won't be covered by your travel insurer. If you do need to go to a country the Foreign Office is warning against travel to, you'll need specialist cover.


For more information, see our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide.


What is 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're on holiday. It's also designed to cover you if you have to cancel your trip before you go, or if you need to return early due to an emergency.

However, it's not designed to cover every eventuality or every loss or inconvenience that you experience while on holiday. Read this guide carefully so you know what is (and isn't) covered.

What does travel insurance cover?

A good travel insurance policy should cover you for:

  • Cancellation (before you go) – but only for specific, serious reasons. These usually include being made redundant, having to do jury service, falling seriously ill (including with Covid-19) or suffering a bereavement. Home emergencies eg fire, flood or break-in are also usually covered.

  • Medical assistance (when abroad). As it says on the tin. This covers the cost of receiving treatment overseas. You're also covered for repatriation – the cost of flying you back to the UK if the insurer decides you are medically able to be moved and it wants you treated in the UK. 

    However, a word of caution here. If you have a pre-existing medical condition you did not tell the insurer about when you arranged cover, you won't be covered for any medical treatment you need while on holiday that's related to that condition. ALWAYS tell your insurer about any medical conditions (see our Pre-existing Conditions Travel Insurance guide). 

  • Curtailment. This is where you go on the trip, but need to cut your holiday short due to an emergency. As with cancellation, there's usually a list of (similar) accepted reasons you can claim for, so check the policy wording carefully.

  • Baggage and personal belongings. If your stuff is lost, stolen or damaged while you're away, you should be able to claim, as almost everything you take with you is included – think phone, camera, wallet, expensive clothing, etc. Yet be aware policies can vary greatly both in the amount covered (including the maximum amount they'll pay out for a single item) and in the excess – the amount you have to pay towards the claim yourself.

    You may already be covered for this under your home contents policy, as these often cover belongings outside the home, so check.

  • Sports, excursions and other activities. Some policies will reimburse you if you can't make use of your booking. However, some stipulate you can only claim for these costs if the reason you missed out is that the provider of the activity went bust.

    Again, watch out for the excess – a high one could mean it's only worth claiming for pricier outings.

  • Personal liability. This protects others and their property from accidents you may cause while on holiday. For example, the personal liability element of your insurance would cover you if, while staying at a plush hotel, you spill some hot coffee and stain an expensive upholstered chair.

While you can expect an insurer to pay out for most of the above, the exact level of cover will vary by policy – so check the terms carefully before you buy.

Am I covered for coronavirus-related cancellation?

Of course, we can't ignore the elephant in the room... so we're tackling it head on. The pandemic is a major concern for any prospective travel, but working out exactly what a policy covers isn't always straightforward. In the table below, we've summarised the level of cover you can expect when it comes to Covid-related cancellations.

Scenario Are you covered?
You or a family member can't travel as you've got Covid-19.
Most policies DO cover this, as long as you're not travelling against Government advice.
You or a family member can't travel as you've been told to self-isolate by NHS test & trace.

SOME policies cover this – check insurer's site and the policy wording carefully.

Government advice changes after you've booked meaning you can't travel.
NOT covered by most policies – the pandemic is now considered a 'known event', so you won't be able to claim for this.
Can't travel due to you being in lockdown or accommodation shut.
NOT covered by mainstream policies.
Can't travel as you don't feel safe going.
NOT covered – this is known as 'disinclination to travel' which travel insurance never covers.

In short, you're generally covered if you catch coronavirus before your trip or while on it. We've also focused our top-pick policies on those which cover you if you've been told to self-isolate and can't go on the trip.

However, travel insurance to cover cancellations due to national or local lockdowns - whether in the UK or in your destination - as well as changing Foreign Office advice doesn't really exist. So, you need to accept that risk.

It's best to always book flexible, easily-cancellable flights and hotels so you can cancel or rearrange your trip if you're caught by restrictions. Our Coronavirus Travel Rights guide has more information about your rights to cancel/move your trip, or get refunds from your provider. 

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Your nine travel insurance need-to-knows

one green and one orange coloured suitcase

As we highlighted above, travel insurance still covers a large range of unforeseen events, even if you won't be able to completely cover yourself for coronavirus-related events. It's still vital to get before you go away - and here are a few things you need to know before you choose a policy...

  • If you've booked a holiday a holiday, do not leave arranging the insurance on the 'things to do' list, as you'll be taking an unnecessary risk. 

    This is because travel insurance doesn't just cover you while you're away – it also covers you for cancellation, events such as redundancy or an injury or death in the family, or anything else that might go wrong BEFORE you make your trip. You're also covered if you catch coronavirus shortly before your trip and can't go.

    So, always buying your travel insurance ASAB (As Soon As you've Booked a holiday).

    The same rule applies for a UK holiday, and have a guide to help with arranging UK travel insurance

    ... and see if it is cheaper getting a combined or individual policy.

    If travelling with your partner or family, you have two options – you can cover everyone under one policy, or each person takes their own. It's often cheaper to get a combined policy, however, there are times when separate policies will be a better option (so always check, to be safe), including:

    • If one of the travellers is over 65, as the group price you'll pay is based on the oldest traveller, or the person deemed to be the highest risk, so the insurer will usually hike the price for all (see our Over-65s' Travel Insurance guide for ways to cut costs).
    • If one of the travellers has a medical condition, as it will increase the price for all.
    • If just one of the travellers is going outside Europe, in particular to the US, or on a skiing trip (or even both), it could be better to have separate policies, rather than the whole family buying extended cover when it's not needed.
  • Like all insurance policies, there are a number of things that providers won't pay out for. Here are the most common:

    • Alcohol-related injury. You may be on holiday to unwind but if you are badly injured while you are more than just a little tipsy, your insurer is likely to reject your claim. The same goes for drugs. Insurers have different classifications of 'drunk', with some using blood alcohol limits, so check your policy carefully before you buy.

    • Medical conditions. Insurers will often cover you if you have pre-existing medical conditions, but if you fail to tell your insurer and then need treatment for that condition, or a related condition, you won't be covered. You may also struggle to get a claim paid if you ignore advised medication or jabs needed to enter a country.

    • Dangerous sports. If you're going on an adventure holiday, or planning to take a winter sports break, you must get extra cover or a specialist policy. Taking to the Alps for a spot of snowboarding with just a basic travel insurance policy in your bag is a risk not worth taking. If you get injured you could end up paying £10,000s in medical bills.

    • Refused entry (to visiting country). No one wants their holiday to end before it begins, but most standard policies won't cover this type of scenario. Insurance policies have a list of scenarios they do cover (eg, theft, medical assistance).

      It's your responsibility to check your travel documents are valid and you meet the entry requirements. Always check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for the entry rules of the countries you're visiting well before travelling and give yourself plenty of time to get your paperwork in order.

    • Unattended possessions. Travel insurance will cover your personal possessions when you're abroad but it doesn't mean you can be gung ho with your stuff. If you leave your items unattended and they are then stolen, your insurer will not pay for their replacement.

    • Travel to dangerous countries. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) outlines which countries are unsafe for travel. If you travel to a country on the FCO's list your cover is likely to be invalid. Check out the FCO's current travel advice for more.
    • The excess. This is the amount you have to pay towards any claim you make. For example, if you cancel a trip and are entitled to £3,000 back from your insurer but have a £500 excess you will only receive £2,500.

      However, many travel insurance products have separate excesses for different sections of the policy. For instance, some providers may make you pay an excess on both stolen cash and luggage. So if your suitcase was nicked and your wallet was inside you would have to pay an excess on both.

      It's important to check all excesses so you know exactly what you will have to pay if you make a claim.
    • Private hospital treatment. Only some insurers will cover you, others won't, so double-check your policy – whether out of curiosity or if you need to make a quick decision on which to go to.

      Of those we asked, it was a mixed bag. For example, if you're overseas and know you need to go to hospital to check out a chest pain, LV says it would cover you in a private hospital, but not all the insurers we asked would.

      However, if you're in an emergency, eg, you've a ruptured appendix or had a serious accident and are taken to a private hospital by emergency services without your knowledge, you're more likely to be covered by insurance, though there is still a chance of rejection.

      If rejected and you're unhappy, you can always go to the Financial Ombudsman Service, which can arbitrate.
  • 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.

    Just let the insurer know, even if you don't deem it particularly important, especially as each insurer will have its own list of conditions it deems as more serious.

    Make sure you give a full and frank rundown of all the health problems you have, or have had – including any coronavirus-related health issues – usually in the last five years. Plus you'll need to tell the insurer if you're pregnant too.

    For much more, including tips, tricks and how to find the cheapest deals, see our Pre-Existing Conditions Travel Insurance guide.

  • Insurers will classify your trip as 'European' or 'worldwide'. Worldwide is often further broken down to include or exclude the US, Canada, the Caribbean or Mexico. Selecting the option to include these countries increases the premium due to the high cost of medical treatment – particularly in the US – and possible repatriation.

    European annual travel cover isn't just for Europe
    If you're travelling just outside Europe, you don't always have to select worldwide cover. Many insurers actually allow you to use their European cover in a handful of non-European countries too.

    If you're visiting Egypt, Morocco, Turkey or Tunisia, it's worth getting a quotation for European cover first and then checking the policy's geographical area definition to see if the country you're going to is included. The following insurers – Allianz*Insure and Go and Coverwise* – all class Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia as Europe.

    It's also worth noting that not all insurers automatically include Spain (and the Balearic/Canary Islands) in their European cover – you may have to pay extra to include Spain if you plan to travel there.

    As always, check your policy carefully to make sure you're getting the right cover.

  • Apply for a free EHIC

    The free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the replacement Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which has been sent to new applicants from the 1 January 2021, entitles you to treatment in state-run hospitals in the EU at the same cost as a local would pay. So if they pay nowt, you pay nowt.

    The main difference since 1 January 2021 is that you'll NO LONGER be able to use your EHIC or GHIC in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, as they're not part of the EU.

    An EHIC/GHIC should be seen as an extra to travel insurance, not a replacement. Travel insurance covers a far greater range of scenarios, as well as gives cover for cancellation, possessions, delays, repatriation, personal liability, and more. Plus, even using an EHIC/GHIC you may need to pay, and travel insurance will cover that (and often using the EHIC/GHIC means you don't pay the excess).

    How do I get a GHIC?

    The card is free so if a copycat site pretending to be the real thing advertises a fee (often about £35), run a mile. For full info and how to get it for free from the legitimate NHS site, read our Free EHIC/GHIC guide.

  • 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 can work 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.

    Annual cover will insure you for an unlimited number of trips over a 12-month period. However, the number of days you can be on holiday for per trip may be capped – it can often be as low as 17 days, with other setting the limit at 31 or 45 days but can sometimes be as as high as 90. If you're planning a backpacking trip or gap year travelling where you'll be away for months on end, you'll need specialist backpacker insurance.

  • You may already have travel insurance without knowing. Some bank accounts that charge a monthly fee have extra benefits such as travel insurance. If you think your account offers insurance as a sweetener, check the terms to see if it is appropriate for your trip.

    While travel insurance with these packaged accounts is a decent perk, do NOT confuse it with a benefit offered with credit cards called travel accident insurance. This only covers accidents on a train, plane or in a hire car paid for on the card. Never think travel accident insurance means you're completely covered.

    For accounts that offer travel insurance (and other perks), see our Top Packaged Accounts guide.

  • 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.

    Quick questions

    • Many holidaymakers wrongly assume they're automatically covered for winter sports as part of their travel insurance. While some providers offer winter sports as standard under certain policies, other travel insurers only cover you if you extend your insurance and this will typically cost extra, which will not necessarily break the bank to get this extension.

      All winter sports policies will cover you for skiing and snowboarding and many will also cover other activities, such as husky dog sleigh riding and sledging, as standard. If you are doing something a bit more unusual, such as ski jumping or snowmobiling, check the terms and conditions of your policy first. If you are planning to take part in something even more crazy – such as luging or stunt skiing – specialist providers such as BMC and Snowcard may be able to offer you cover.

      If you opt for a specialist travel policy, check your details closely to make sure you know the limits of your cover.

      Don't forget to pick your specialist provider like any other travel provider. Make sure you tell your insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions and remember to pack your EHIC if you are going somewhere in Europe.

    • The cost of medical bills if you get injured on the slopes can be extortionate so it is essential to have the right cover.

      The Association of British Insurers have said one Brit required £90,000 of treatment for a fractured rib and punctured lung.

      Even a smaller injury, such as damage to a knee ligament, cost as much as £3,800 to treat.

      Add being airlifted from the mountain to hospital, repatriation if you need to be flown home injured from the US or Canada and this would significantly increase the claim.

      As well as covering yourself, winter sports insurance will also cover your ski pack and cancellation of your holiday.

    • In most cases, you'll be allowed to ski off-piste but with certain restrictions. You'll have to be within the boundary of the resort or supervised by a qualified instructor.

    • Lucky you. It may be cheaper to take out an annual policy with a winter sports add-on. However, check the price against the cost of covering single trips to ensure you're getting a bargain.

    • If your piste closes (usually due to lack of snow or an avalanche) and you're unable to hit the slopes, your insurer may give you back a set amount per day. This can range from £10 to £50 – up to a limit of £200 to £500.

    • Most winter sports policies will cover you for accidental damage, theft or the loss of equipment. The onus will be on you to keep your gear safe, so don't leave it at the mercy of crooks.

      Your equipment will usually be covered but different providers offer different limits. The sum insured is usually in addition to your standard baggage cover. For example, Axa will cover up to £1,500 worth of equipment, Admiral will cover from £500, up to £1,000 (depending on the policy), while Aviva and Direct Line give cover up to £500. Think about the value of your stuff and pick your policy accordingly.

      If you've hired ski equipment, it may be covered by your insurer if it's lost, stolen or damaged. Some providers insure any rented kit as part of your baggage up to the limit of the coverage. Other insurers only pay up to 50% of the sum insured for hired equipment. Some ski equipment providers may also cover their gear for you so it is worth checking with the resort before you buy your cover.

      In most cases, your ski pack – including ski school fees, a lift pass and hired ski equipment – is covered. The amount can range from £150 to £500, but can be as high as £5,000. As always, check your policy closely for any potential exclusions.

    • Check your policy carefully before you buy. If you go skiing ignoring weather warnings and – with some providers – or go skiing without wearing a helmet, your claim could be rejected. In some counties, it's also a legal requirement to wear a helmet, so don't fall foul of the rules.

  • While cruises aren't taking place during the coronavirus crisis, it's still an option to add cruise cover if you're booking a trip for later in 2021.

    On a cruise, most regular travel policies will cover you for loss or theft of goods and medical costs on a cruise, you may not be for other eventualities unless you upgrade your policy. These include:

    • Missed departure
    • Unused cruise excursions, eg, a day trip to a city port
    • Cruise itinerary change
    • Cabin confinement, eg, onboard virus

    To get cover for these, you can usually select an add-on to get the right protection – which won't break the bank. If you want to buy one, a quick way to get a quote is to use a comparison site such as MoneySupermarket**Gocompare or Compare The Market.

    It's also worth comparing seeing if any of the top-pick policies below let you add cruise cover.

Cheapest single-trip travel insurance for under-66s (with decent coronavirus cover)

These are our top-pick policies for individuals and families looking for single-trip travel insurance, ordered by price. All policies listed meet our minimum cover levels. In addition, you're covered:

  • If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Covid-19 before your trip and can't go.
  • If you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace (or Scot, Wales, NI equivalent).

Travelling against Foreign Office advice? The policies below won't cover you, so see specialist policies which will

Cheapest single-trip travel insurance policies for under-66s

Insurer  1wk, individual – price from (i) 1wk, family (i)(ii) 1wk, individual – price from (i) 1wk, family (i)(ii) Excess
Coverwise (Bronze)* £9.87
£27.80 £12.90 £47.14 £100
CoverForYou (Bronze)* £11 £20
£31 £72 £0
Avanti (Classic)* £15.59 £30.22 £36.49 £69.89 £75
Staysure (Comprehensive)* £15.72 £27.41 £36.78 £70.07 £65

Prices correct as of Apr 2021. (i) Price will vary depending on your age. (ii) Based on two adults aged 40 and two children aged 10 and 15 travelling.

Cheapest annual travel insurance for under-66s (with decent coronavirus cover)

These are our top-pick policies for individuals and families looking for annual travel insurance, ordered by price. All policies listed meet our minimum cover levels. In addition, you're covered:

  • If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Covid-19 before your trip and can't go.
  • If you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace (or Scot, Wales, NI equivalent).

Travelling against Foreign Office advice? The policies below won't cover you, so see specialist policies which will

Cheapest annual travel insurance policies for under-66s

Insurer  Individual - price from (i) Family (i)(ii)  Individual - price from (i) Family (i)(ii) Excess
Coverwise (Bronze)* £12.90 £32.43 £27.95 £71.23 £100
Axa (Silver) £30.95 £51.17 £50.63 £107 £100
CoverForYou (Bronze)* £32.75 £66.25 £45.76 £84.25 £0
Staysure (Comprehensive)* £34.67 £56.65 £63.66 £114.92 £65

Prices correct as of Apr 2021. (i) Price will vary depending on your age. (ii) Based on two adults aged 40 and two children aged 10 and 15 travelling.

Use comparison sites to find cover to suit your needs

For a wider selection of insurers, it's worth doing a full check using comparison sites such as MoneySupermarket*Compare The Market,* and Gocompare as they allow you to adjust your quote to suit your needs.

However, we can't pre-filter these for you, so always check they have cover that meets your needs. In particular, check what level of coronavirus cover the insurer offers before buying a policy.

Travel insurance if you're travelling against Foreign Office advice

If you decide to travel to a country that has a Foreign Office warning against travel (though note we're not encouraging you to do so) and are looking for travel insurance to cover it, we've found some insurers that give some level of cover. Here's how it works...

  • You WILL be covered for normal medical issues while overseas.
  • You WILL have cover for the normal scenarios that travel insurance covers, such as loss of belongings, theft etc.
  • You MAY NOT have cover if you catch coronavirus overseas, so check the policy.

Here are some insurers to consider: 

Insurer Cover as standard, or optional extension? Covid-19 covered medically? Cancellation cover for Covid-19?
Battleface* Standard Yes – with repatriation cover No* Standard (but only for single-trip travel to Europe) Yes – with repatriation cover Yes, but ONLY if insured or family member diagnosed with coronavirus
Leisure Guard* Standard (but only for single-trip travel to Europe) Yes – with repatriation cover Yes, but ONLY if insured or family member diagnosed with coronavirus
Staysure* Optional - add "European Foreign Office travel advice extension" Yes - if you’ve had the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations Yes, but ONLY if insured or family member diagnosed with coronavirus

Still can't get cover or not happy with the price? Contact a broker 

Specialist brokers can help you find insurers that cover non-standard medical conditions, or non-standard trips. To one, see the British Insurance Brokers' Association website.

Always double-check the level of cover offered before taking out a policy as well as providers' websites for any info about coronavirus.

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How to claim on your travel insurance

making a claim on your travel insurance

Claiming on your travel insurance shouldn't be daunting and – if you understand the terms and the excesses on your policy – you shouldn't be in for any nasty shocks. Follow the five steps below if you do need to make a 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.
  • Get your insurer to accept a medical claim before you get treatment. If you need to make a medical claim – and it's not an emergency – get your insurer to accept the claim over the phone first. For example, if you sprained your ankle, call your insurer – if it accepts the claim then, you're less likely to be faced with a rejected claim later down the line. For obvious reasons, don't delay treatment if it's an emergency.
  • Notify the police if it's a theft or loss. 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 be able to claim – to make sure your claim doesn't hit the skids.
  • Keep 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. This independent adjudicator 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, or see our section below.

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 small print. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but, if not, then…

Travel insurance FAQs

  • If you're going away for more than 60 consecutive days then standard travel insurance is unlikely to cover you.

    You'll therefore need specialist backpacker insurance – sometimes called gap-year or extended leave insurance. These policies can protect you for up to 18 months as standard in most cases, and can even be extended.

  • Many people aren't aware that if they have an alcoholic drink on holiday, and lose something or have an accident, their insurance may not cover them – even if they only had the one drink. Insurers all have different interpretations – which we have seen in the T&Cs – ranging from 'drinking too much' to 'approx four pints' to 'alcoholic abuse'.

    In practice, what most say is that it's all about if the drink has affected your decision-making ability. As we all have different tolerances, for some this could mean that just one drink could invalidate a claim.

    It's also been reported that some insurers have gone as far as testing blood samples for your alcohol level (although we wonder how this works in practice) but as stressed, this does vary from policy to policy.

    Having a claim refused could hit hard, possibly excluding you from medical or possessions cover. As a general rule, use your common sense as it's about safety as well as insurance. For example, if you're skiing and have two or three glasses of wine at lunch before hitting the slopes again, you're increasing the chance of an accident – which you also may not be covered for.

    See our Eight things many of us do on holiday that could invalidate our insurance blog – it's an eye-opener.

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