Over-65s' Travel Insurance
As you get older, especially if you're aged 66+, many travel insurers use it as an excuse to charge you more than you need to pay, but there are lots of ways to save. If you've booked a trip but not insurance and it's been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, there's little you can do now – you can't buy cover retrospectively. But if you're optimistic about future trips and looking for a new travel insurance policy, read on...
Over-65s' travel insurance: Eight need-to-knows
Getting the right holiday cover is a much more arduous task as you age, as statistically you're more at risk of injury and illness.
However, besides the extra cost, over-65s' travel insurance is just like cover for younger travellers, insuring against unforeseeable mishaps which may occur before your holiday starts or while you're away.
Before you buy cover, here are eight things you should know.
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.
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.
So while you're unlikely to be covered for coronavirus-related cancellations or disruption, it's still worth buying insurance as soon as you've booked a holiday.
Standard travel insurance covers you in the UK but the cover here is not as powerful as when overseas. However, it can still prove useful, so you'll need to weigh up the pros and cons.
Travel insurance in the UK offers all the usual protections you'd get abroad, such as theft of valuables and cancellation. You're not normally covered for hospital treatment but that's not such an issue given you should be able to use the NHS.
That said, you'll still need to declare all pre-existing conditions as insurers want to know how likely you are to have to be driven or airlifted home in a medical emergency. The problem is not all trips are covered, eg, most insurers only cover you if you've booked accommodation.
But there can be other restrictions. For instance, LV gives cover if you're more than 25 miles from home or your journey involves a sea crossing. So the message is to check policies carefully as they can vary.
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 rundown of all the health problems you have, or have had, usually in the last five years, plus if you're pregnant too.
If you have, or have had, what insurers consider to be less serious conditions, such as mild asthma or high blood pressure which you're not receiving ongoing treatment for, you may still be able to get traditional cover at the standard price.
Just let the insurer know, even if you don't deem it particularly important, as many providers are taking a pragmatic approach as to whether to charge you more because of a certain condition. This is especially true as each insurer will have its own list of conditions it deems as more serious.
If your insurer doesn't know your medical history, any existing conditions – however minor – will likely be excluded and you could face a massive bill if you become unwell. Insurers also need to know about medication, conditions or illnesses that can be linked to your existing condition.
For example, an asthmatic who develops a chest infection (connected to being asthmatic) while on holiday will only be insured if they've told 'em about it.
For much more, including tips, tricks and how to find the cheapest deals, see our Pre-Existing Conditions Travel Insurance guide.
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 the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated this. Before you decide which policy to buy, assess your risk. Do you have expensive personal belongings? Will you be carrying large amounts of foreign currency? Are you taking part in winter sports? When you know exactly what you need you can make a more informed decision.
Though, bear in mind that very few policies will cover you for cancellations related to local, national or international travel restrictions related to coronavirus. However, a few will cover you if you need to cancel because you get coronavirus before you go - we've rounded them up in this guide for single-trip and annual travel insurance.
Every travel insurance policy covers different things but all offer a varying degree of cover on:
Unforeseen illnesses, injuries or accidents will be covered under the medical section of your policy. This covers the cost of receiving treatment overseas – including dental emergencies in most cases – and repatriation, the cost of having to fly you back to the UK.
On a more morbid note, most policies cover cremation costs or the repatriation of a body should someone die during your holiday.
Travel policies also cover cancellation if you can no longer go on your holiday or you need to come back early. However, there needs to be a valid reason for you to abandon your trip. Being made redundant, having to do jury service, or having to take care of a seriously ill family member are among valid reasons.
But if you decide you no longer fancy a trip to the Canary Islands because you would rather go to the Maldives, or you want to return to the UK because you forgot to put EastEnders on series record, your claim would probably be rejected.
Important: You need to know that new policies won't cover you against coronavirus-related cancellation, or if you're travelling against Foreign Office advice.
Baggage and personal belongings
Your travel policy will also cover you if your stuff is lost, stolen or damaged while you are on holiday. Almost everything you take overseas, including computers, phones and cameras as well as expensive clothing is included – but always check the policy limits. Many providers will also cover you for the loss of a passport, cash or a driving licence.
However, policies can vary greatly in the amount covered and in the excesses – the amount you have to pay towards the claim yourself. For example, items such as cash or expensive goods can be subject to their own high excess.
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, during a skiing trip, you crashed into another skier and injured them. Insurers will usually cover you for up to £2 million, generally more than enough.
Travel schedules are often the victim of adverse weather, so delay cover is one of the more important aspects of travel insurance. Most policies cover against more than just storms, with many including events such as industrial action and mechanical breakdown.
If your flight's been delayed for more than three hours or it's been cancelled you may be able to claim compensation of up to £530 from the airline. However, the reason for the delay or cancellation must be the airline's fault, so bad weather won't count, for example.
This compensation is only for EU-regulated flights. An EU flight is where the flight departed from an EU airport, regardless of the airline OR where an EU airline landed at an EU airport. Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. See our Flight Delay Compensation guide for more info.
If this doesn't apply – perhaps because you flew both legs outside of the EU – you can also try making a claim on your travel insurance policy. Insurers typically pay out for each 12-hour period you've been delayed, but payouts are often tiny compared with what you can get from your airline so always go down that route if you can.
Like all insurance policies, there are a number of things that providers will not pay out for. Here are the most common...
You may be on holiday to unwind but if you are 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.
Insurers will often cover you if you have a pre-existing medical condition, 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. So if you go to Kenya and decide against getting jabs for diphtheria, hepatitis A, polio and tetanus, do not expect your insurer to foot the bill if the worst happens.
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 is a risk not worth taking. If you get injured you could end up paying £10,000s in medical bills – especially if you're over 65.
Travel insurance will cover your possessions when you're abroad but it doesn't mean you can be gung ho with your gear. If you leave your items unattended and they're 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 at a given time – travel to one, and your cover is likely to be invalid. See the FCO's current travel advice for more.
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. Including these countries increases the premium due to the high cost of medical treatment – particularly in the US – and possible repatriation.
However, some insurers include destinations such as Egypt and Turkey in Europe, while others offer European policies with the option of including or excluding Spain (which can cost more and may increase your premium). As always, check your policy to make sure you're getting the right cover.
An excess 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'll only receive £2,500.
Many travel insurance products have separate excesses for different sections of the policy. For instance, some providers may make you pay an excess on stolen cash and luggage. So, if your suitcase was nicked and your wallet was inside, you'd have to pay an excess on both.
If you have a group policy, each person may also have to pay an excess for any loss. It's important to check all excesses so you know exactly what you will have to pay if you make a claim.
Most travel insurance policies are traditionally designed to cover package holidays, as historically that's how 90% of us booked our holidays, and not all providers have kept up. This leaves them ill-equipped to cover DIY trips, where flights and accommodation are booked separately.
The biggest issue is a lack of cover for knock-on consequences. If a policy covers scheduled airline failure, for example, and the airline goes under, you'd typically be able to claim for the flights and any consequential losses, such as hotel costs. Without this cover, you'd lose the money you paid for it.
To beat this, you need a policy that specifically covers 'indirect loss' or 'scheduled airline failure'. Check the small print as some insurers include this as standard, while with others it's an optional extra.
Remember, packaged holidays feature extra ATOL and ABTA protection. And as of 1 July 2018, you're fully protected if you create a DIY package by selecting elements (flights, hotels etc) separately via the same website (or shop or call centre) and then buy them in the SAME transaction. See Holiday Rights: ATOL, ABTA, cancellations & delays explained for more.
As with any insurance product, check all terms, conditions, exclusions and inclusions before you buy. Travelling without the right cover can leave you seriously out of pocket.
Remember to check your excesses too. High excesses may result in a cheaper policy but should only be considered if you can afford to front a large portion of the cost of your claim yourself.
Insurance providers go all out to scare us into upping cover levels. Don't be duped into upgrading for no reason. Platinum policies with £10 million medical cover are bunkum, even if you are over 65.
"Why?" you ask. Well, you're charged more but the chances of you making a claim that high are slim. According to the Association of British Insurers, the average cost of a medical travel insurance claim in 2017 was £1,300 – a far cry from £10 million.
The free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) 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.
But it's not a substitute for travel insurance, which covers far more including baggage, cancellation and personal liability.
What's happened to the EHIC now we've left the EU?
It was expected that this would end on 31 December 2020 after the Brexit transition period finished. However, it's been announced that those who have an existing EHIC can continue to use it in EU countries after 1 January 2021. It'll give you the benefits until the expiry date on the card.
The main difference from 1 January 2021 is that you'll NO LONGER be able to use your EHIC in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, as they're not part of the EU.
If you don't have an EHIC, or it's expiring soon and you need to replace it, you'll now get a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
Like an EHIC, the GHIC will entitle holders to emergency or necessary state (not private) medical care for the same cost as a resident in the EU country they're visiting. However, like the EHIC, it won't cover you in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
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.
An EHIC/GHIC should be seen as an extra to travel insurance not a replacement. Travel insurance covers a much wider range of scenarios, as well as covering your possessions, delays, repatriation 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).
Equally, many travel insurance exclusions don't apply with EHICs/GHICs. So if you've been drinking you'll still be treated (not an excuse to push it), and it still works if you have existing conditions. Though medical tourism – going abroad to get treatment – is prohibited.
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 you have cover in place no matter how many trips you go on in a year.
For those 65 or under our rule of thumb is, go away two or more times a year and annual policies are often worth it. That logic can usually work up to age 75.
Above that, annual policies get relatively more expensive, so then they usually only win if you go away three or four times a year or more.
However, it does vary, so it's always worth doing the maths yourself and comparing annual and single-trip policies.
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, with others setting the limit at 31 or 45. Sometimes it can be 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.
If you're travelling with your partner or family, you have two options: you can cover everyone under one policy, or each person takes their own.
If you're the oldie in a group and you're travelling with your younger partner or your family, it can work out cheaper for you to get a policy for yourself and for the rest to get a single, couples or family policy. This is because the price is usually based on the oldest traveller in the group, but always check both options before buying.
When travelling with your family, a policy would normally only cover your immediate family, eg, partner and kids, so check exactly who is covered prior to committing. Even children going on a school trip may be covered automatically on a family policy (as long as they're with a responsible adult).
There are times when separate policies will be a better option (so always check, to be safe), including:
- 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.
- If one of the travellers has a medical condition, as it will increase the price for all.
Many bank accounts that charge a monthly fee have extra benefits such as travel insurance, so if you pay for yours you may already be covered for family members under 80 (depending on which account. This is great for those aged up to 79, who pay no surcharge on top of the monthly fee - though remember a surcharge may be applied if you're covering medical conditions that aren't covered as standard.
If you think you got insurance as a sweetener with your bank account, check the terms to see if it's appropriate for your trip. For more info on accounts that offer travel insurance, see our Top Packaged Bank Accounts guide.
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.
And travel accident 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 guide for more.
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.
Carefully check your policy to make sure you're covered should you need to cancel or require medical treatment once on board.
If you need extended cover, which usually includes cover against missed departure, unused cruise excursions, cruise itinerary change and cruise cabin confinement, you can usually select an add-on to get the right protection – which won't break the bank.
The same principle applies if you're planning a skiing holiday – you'll need an add-on.
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, others only cover you if you extend your insurance and this will typically cost extra.
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 wild – such as luging and 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 insurer. Make sure you tell it about any existing medical conditions and remember to pack your EHIC/GHIC if you're going somewhere in Europe.
The cost of medical bills if you get injured on the slopes can be extortionate so it's essential to have the right cover.
The Association of British Insurers told us one Brit required £90,000 of treatment for a fractured rib and punctured lung.
Even a smaller injury, such as knee ligament damage, 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 also covers your ski pack – a term used to describe the package of lessons you've paid for, lift passes and equipment hire – 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, on a marked ski run, with local ski patrol guidelines 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 single trips to ensure you're getting a bargain. Your age is likely to play a part here so check the T&Cs of the policy carefully.
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 a limit. 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 for any potential exclusions.
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.
As long as your claim is valid and you're within the terms of your policy, you should be covered should you have a mishap on the slopes. But if you've had a drop of sherry and then injure yourself, your claim is likely to be rejected.
This is a standard exclusion on most travel insurance policies, including ones with winter sports cover. Insurers have different classifications of 'drunk', with some using blood alcohol limits so check your policy before you buy. The same goes for skiing despite weather warnings and – with some providers – skiing without a helmet.
Annual & single-trip travel insurance for over-65s
Important – please read first: coronavirus and these policies. When the coronavirus crisis started, many travel insurers stopped selling insurance, or offered no cover for ANY coronavirus-related issues.
However, we've found some policies that cover medical costs if you catch coronavirus while on a trip, plus a few that also cover you if you need to cancel because you or a family member gets coronavirus before travelling and can't go. The tables below detail what each policy covers for single-trip and annual insurance.
Travelling against Foreign Office advice? We've found four providers that give some level of cover for this if you are looking for a new policy. The level of cover, and restrictions, differ.
We've based our picks on levels of coronavirus cover and price, plus we've made sure insurers meet our normal travel insurance minimum cover levels. We don't know how good service will be, though, especially in these extraordinary times. We hope this helps.
We're about to take you through our top picks – but before we do, you must know...
- As long as there's no Government warning in place against travel, you'll be covered for all the normal scenarios travel insurance covers, eg, bereavement, theft, loss. We've concentrated the tables below on cover offered for coronavirus.
If you're only planning one trip during the year, single-trip insurance is usually cheaper than annual cover. Here are the policies we've found that give some coronavirus cover, ordered by price...
|Insurer||One-week single trip – from (i)||How far ahead can you buy before your holiday starts?||Medical cover abroad for coronavirus?||Cancellation cover for coronavirus?||Excess|
|Leisure Guard (Standard)*||£14.48||One year||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£100|
|Insurefor.com (Premier)*||£15.40||One year||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£75|
|Staysure (Comprehensive)*||£19.90||18 months||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£65|
|ABTA (Travel Sure)||£20.20||18 months||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£99|
|CoverForYou (Silver)*||£25||One year||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£0|
|Trailfinders||£29||Two years||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£75|
|Axa (Silver)||£30.79||One year||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£100|
|Saga* (must be aged 50+)||£32.29||One year||Yes||Yes, but ONLY if the insured, a family member or travel companion is diagnosed with coronavirus||£70|
|Post Office (Standard)*||£36.43||One year||Yes||Yes, but ONLY if the insured is diagnosed with coronavirus or a family member passes away after testing positive||£100|
|AllClear (Gold Plus)*||£36.68||One year||Yes||Yes, if the insured is diagnosed with coronavirus||£75|
|LV (Premier)*||£38.42 (ii)||One year||Yes||Yes, but ONLY if the insured, a family member or travel companion is diagnosed with coronavirus||£90 (iii)|
|(i) Price based on an individual, to Europe. The price will vary depending on your age, and will increase if you require worldwide travel, winter sports or need family cover, for example. Prices correct as of 21 Jul 2020. (ii) LV price correct as of 15 Sep 2020. (iii) This excess is for medical claims, and reduces to £50 for baggage claims.|
|Insurer||Annual cover – from (i)||First trip must be within x days of buying policy?||Medical cover abroad for coronavirus?||Cancellation cover for coronavirus?||Excess|
|Leisure Guard (Standard)*||£56.89||90 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£100|
|Axa (Silver)||£57.62||90 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£100|
|CoverForYou (Silver)*||£68||94 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£0|
||£72.53||30 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£65|
|Post Office (Standard)*||£80.71||30 days||Yes||Yes, but ONLY if the insured is diagnosed with coronavirus or a family member passes away after testing positive
|Insurefor.com (Premier)*||£81.70||90 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£75|
|Saga* (must be aged 50+)||£85.84||30 days||Yes||Yes, but ONLY if the insured, a family member or travel companion is diagnosed with coronavirus||£70|
|ABTA (Travel Sure)||£99.98||120 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£99|
|LV (Premier)*||£114.43||30 days||Yes||Yes, but ONLY if the insured, a family member or travel companion is diagnosed with coronavirus||£90 (ii)|
|AllClear (Gold Plus)*||£126.19 (iii)||90 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured is diagnosed with coronavirus||£75|
|Trailfinders||£160 (iv)||90 days||Yes||Yes, if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus||£75|
(i) Price based on an individual, to Europe. The price will vary depending on your age, and will increase if you require worldwide travel, winter sports or need family cover, for example.
(ii) This excess is for medical claims, and reduces to £50 for baggage claims.
(iii) The provider is currently giving 15 months' cover for the price of 12 months.
(iv) Annual policy automatically includes worldwide cover with winter-sports extension as standard. Prices correct as of 21 Jul 2020, except LV (price correct 15 Sep 2020).
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||Is the cover given as standard, or as an optional extension?||Medical cover abroad for coronavirus?||Is there any cancellation cover for coronavirus?|
|Battleface*||Standard||Yes – with repatriation cover||No|
|Insurefor.com*||Standard (but only for single-trip travel, to Europe)||Yes – with repatriation cover||Yes, but ONLY if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus|
|Leisure Guard*||Standard (but only for single-trip travel, to Europe)||Yes – with repatriation cover||Yes, but ONLY if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus|
|Staysure*||Optional, by adding the European Foreign Office travel advice extension||No||Yes, but ONLY if the insured or a family member is diagnosed with coronavirus|
Want to tailor cover to suit your needs?
For a wider selection of insurers, and if you want more protection, eg, gadgets, delays, airline failure, missed departure and more, then it's worth doing a full check using comparison sites such as MoneySupermarket*, Compare The Market, Confused.com* and Gocompare as they allow you to adjust your quote to suit your needs.
Cashback sites may pay you for signing up
As an extra boon, if you become a member of specialist cashback websites, you can be paid when you sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account.
There is full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.
How to claim on your 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...
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.
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.
If something goes missing or is stolen when you're 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.
If you're 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.
If your insurance company rejects your claim, and you think it has done so wrongly, don't 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.
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 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 one drink. Insurers all have different interpretations – which we have seen in policy 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. 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 actually worked).
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.
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…
Clever ways to calculate your finances