When we’re at home, we tend not to worry about the prospect of a broken leg or a serious stomach bug. Such ailments are the last thing on our minds. Even if we were to fall ill, at least we wouldn’t have to concern ourselves with the cost of treatment. Such is the beauty of having a universal health service in the UK. Abroad however, medical costs for UK holiday-makers are on the rise. Accordingly, it is imperative that travel insurance is purchased prior to going on holiday. This provision will allow you to enjoy the sea, sand and slopes with peace of mind.

As anyone who has had the misfortune of illness or accident on holiday will know, it’s pretty miserable being stuck in bed when the sun is blazing outside. However, the right travel insurance policy will ensure that the only thing you need to concentrate on is getting better. The wrong travel insurance policy, on the other hand, may leave you with a hefty financial burden.

In addition to covering illness or injury, travel insurance can also account for stolen or lost possessions, cancellations and delayed flights. When it comes to travel insurance, a little bit of research goes an awfully long way.

Travel insurance policies generally vary according to the number of trips they will cover you for, and are often termed single trip and annual multi-trip. If you’re not on holiday often, single trip insurance is usually recommended: it can be tailored to span the length of your holiday and the activities you’ll take part in whilst there. As the cheapest option of the bunch, it tends to be the one most people plump for. Annual multi-trip insurance will, on the other hand, cover you all the year round. For every holiday you take during the year you’ll have the same level of protection, but it will usually only protect you for a certain number of days. This will vary between companies, but this is the recommended policy for those who travel more than three times a year.

Single trip and annual multi-trip policies will expect you to meet a general list of criteria, and you’ll be asked to adhere to certain rules and regulations; this won’t necessarily suit everyone. For example, you will probably have to state that you will not partake in any activities that could put you at risk of injury or death, and make clear that you are both physically and mentally fit. Some insurers will only provide you with these policies if you are between the ages of 18 and 65, and they’ll also expect you to travel for a ‘normal’ period of time. This clearly varies between providers, so you need to check what your needs are against their own expectations and rules. If you don’t fall under their umbrella of terms, you may need to purchase a specialist policy.

Annual or single trip

If you think the only difference between annual multi-trip and single trip cover is the number of jaunts they will insure you for, think again. There are actually a number of differences between the two main policies, in addition to variances in price.

Annual multi-trip cover may only set you back the price of purchasing insurance for a three-week holiday, so it makes sense to consider this option, given that it doesn’t cost much more than single trip cover. Similarly, when you’re trying to choose between single or annual trip policies, check the stated sum that the insurer is willing to pay out towards medical costs. Some single trip policies will not pay out nearly as much as the annual trip policies. Of course, it makes sense that a single trip policy would pay less: they’re only covering you for one holiday. However, if a single trip policy is offering £1000 worth of medical costs, and the annual multi-trip policy is offering you £6000, you don’t need to take six holidays in order to reap the benefits. When you look at it this way, the potential drawbacks to a single trip policy may begin to outweigh the initial money-saving advantages it bestows.

Nevertheless, single trip policies do have their benefits: they’ll cover you for whatever kind of holiday you wish to go on (excluding, of course, extreme activities). Be aware that an annual multi-trip policy may not enable you to go skiing in January, surfing in June and then relaxing on a city break in October however; companies will expect you to stipulate what kind of trips you expect to go on, which may limit your potential to grab ‘last-minute’ extreme sports deals.

Furthermore, whilst some companies’ annual multi-trip policies may only cover you for up to 21 days per trip – and insist that the trips start and end in the UK – such a policy probably isn’t going to suit backpackers, among others. All in all, there really is no rule of thumb when choosing a policy: you simply have to weigh up what you need against what’s being offered.

Most insurers will provide a gargantuan list of situations in which they will not provide cover, and you’ll usually find this at the back of your policy in the small print. It’s important to know what conditions and situations insurers will not cover, so you can take steps to keep yourself as safe as possible and avoid any nasty surprises.

No travel insurance policy will provide cover against war. Some may provide compensation for terrorist attacks, but generally companies will not pay out if you encounter civil unrest or hostilities. This is due to the fact that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will advise against travel to certain parts of the world, according to what is happening in that area at any given time. Of course, your travel agent will know whether your desired destination is a no-go area, and it’s recommended that you follow their – and the Foreign Office’s – advice. Similarly, if a strike or form of industrial action has appeared anywhere in the media before you decide to depart, the insurers will see your traveling there as a form of negligence.

Travel insurance will not cover the legal actions of any authorities in the country; nor will it pay up if you’ve decided to break the law in that land. It won’t protect you against the consequences of encountering radiation, and will not pay out if a situation arises out of your duties as a member of the Armed Forces. Finally, and importantly, if any of your injuries are self-inflicted – ranging from attempted suicide to a drunken fall – they will refuse to offer compensation.

Pre-existing illnesses

For those with pre-existing illnesses, finding the right travel insurance can be more difficult. Companies may see you as posing a significantly greater risk, and thus they’ll require some background information before deciding whether to provide a policy.

It’s important to note, however, that all medical conditions must be disclosed. Companies will usually ask you a few general health questions, so it’s worth mentioning if you’ve suffered from depression, for instance, or think you might be pregnant. Pre-existing illness insurance isn’t only aimed at those with a serious condition, so it’s worth checking with your provider before purchasing a policy.

Even minor conditions may need to be discussed, as the last thing you want to find is that the insurer won’t pay up for a condition they believe should have been declared. In some cases, when the condition has been treated without problems for a designated period of time, you won’t pay more than anyone else you’re traveling with. In others, it will end up being more expensive, and you’ll have to undergo medical screening. Nonetheless, it’s important to make sure that you buy the right policy, for it is imperative that you receive ample protection while abroad.

The amount of cover you need all depends on who you are and what type of holiday you want to go on. If you’re between 18 and 65, and want to lie on a beach in Spain, you’ll find that a myriad of companies will offer affordable quotes for single trip and annual multi-trip policies. If your trip involves anything other than this, however, you will definitely need to do a little more research.

If you’re pregnant or older than 65, you may need to purchase a specialist policy that the company will tailor to your needs. Unfortunately, if this is not declared, then the policy you choose may well be rendered null and void. Similarly, you need to think about the kinds of things you want to do on holiday: insurers provide policies specifically for those who want to indulge in sports and activities, as your adventures may well end up costing them more in the long run. Families can purchase specific policies for their brood; where you go will also largely determine the level of cover you will require.

It’s worth mentioning that anyone considering a romantic proposal while abroad may need to think twice about how much cover they’ll need: make sure that the insurer is willing to reimburse the price of that expensive engagement ring, otherwise a dip in the sea or a misplaced jacket could prove costlier than you ever imagined.

Whilst it is important that you check through the policy details prior to purchasing, it is equally vital that you’re honest with your insurer. Any pertinent information you withhold from them could render the whole policy null and void, leaving you out of pocket.

The easiest way to save on travel insurance is to shop around. Research has shown that around 60% of us will purchase insurance bundled in with our holiday, which is not always the most cost-effective means of doing so. Holiday companies can charge up to five times more than the quotes you can typically find online, so it makes sense to do your comparisons before opting for an insurance policy. The easiest option may be to pay the agent’s fee and just assume that you’re protected, but with a little research and some information at the ready, you’ll feel safer and more prepared by the time you board the plane.

It’s possible to significantly reduce your premiums if you know what you are – and what you aren’t – going to do whilst traveling. Does your insurance cover you for quad biking? If it does, but the thought of all that bouncing around the desert leaves you gasping for breath, see if you can find a cheaper policy that doesn’t such a provision. Besides, a different policy may offer you more medical cover for activities that you do want to indulge in, like camel riding. Make sure, however, not to drastically increase your voluntary excess in a bid to reduce the price of the premium. Like all insurance policies, if the worst-case scenario does happen, you’ll be expected to pay up before the insurer does.

All in all, the most effective way to save on travel insurance is to make sure you have the right policy: there’s little point in saving a pittance, only to end up having to pay more in the long run.

The easiest way to save on travel insurance is to shop around. Research has shown that around 60% of us will purchase insurance bundled in with our holiday, which is not always the most cost-effective means of doing so. Holiday companies can charge up to five times more than the quotes you can typically find online, so it makes sense to do your comparisons before opting for an insurance policy. The easiest option may be to pay the agent’s fee and just assume that you’re protected, but with a little research and some information at the ready, you’ll feel safer and more prepared by the time you board the plane.

It’s possible to significantly reduce your premiums if you know what you are – and what you aren’t – going to do whilst traveling. Does your insurance cover you for quad biking? If it does, but the thought of all that bouncing around the desert leaves you gasping for breath, see if you can find a cheaper policy that doesn’t such a provision. Besides, a different policy may offer you more medical cover for activities that you do want to indulge in, like camel riding. Make sure, however, not to drastically increase your voluntary excess in a bid to reduce the price of the premium. Like all insurance policies, if the worst-case scenario does happen, you’ll be expected to pay up before the insurer does.

All in all, the most effective way to save on travel insurance is to make sure you have the right policy: there’s little point in saving a pittance, only to end up having to pay more in the long run.

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