We’ve read lots of horror stories about sky-high hospital bills and holiday makers with an EHIC card being asked to claim the cost of treatment from their travel insurance. Adequate travel insurance is a necessity – even a small snarl-up can knock your holiday plans askew and put a dent in your holiday budget.
Here are the four things you really, really need to make sure are in your travel insurance policy.
A hospital stay can be very expensive, particularly in the United States. Look for a travel insurance policy that gives at least £2 million worth of medical cover if you’re holidaying in Europe. For a long-haul trip, you’d be best to see at least £5 million worth of protection. These figures seem astronomical but a recent survey by Asda Money revealed that in Europe, the cost of treating a broken leg can be nearly £7,000. In the States the figure is nearer £100,000.
If you need to be flown back by air ambulance from the US’s East Coast the cost is between £35,000 and £45,000. Just from the Canary Islands, the cost would be between £12,000 and £16,000. Even a scheduled flight from Australia could – with doctor escort and stretcher – cost £15-£20,000.
Always be completely honest with your insurance provider. Keeping back details that you consider unimportant might mean that the company refuses to pay out when you need it. Keep them informed too about any health problems that crop up between taking out insurance and travelling.
Insurance for lost money, valuables and luggage
Your bags go astray during a flight, you’re the victim of a robbery, you left your iPad Air on a park bench … Travel insurance typically covers you up to a certain limit, between £200 and £500 for cash (or traveller’s cheques) if your purse is stolen. Now that we’re carrying around pricey iDevices, an insurance policy should cover you for at least £1,500.
Missing bags might not be the problem it once was, but it’s still a good idea to have a policy that covers luggage that goes astray while it’s in the airline’s care.
Cancellation and curtailment cover
What if you have to abandon your trip? Redundancy, pregnancy, a home emergency, a family bereavement, jury service or witness summons in addition to accident or illness should all be covered. The figure you’re looking for here is a minimum of £3,000.
Personal liability cover
If you have an accident (there’s an injury to someone else or property is damaged) while abroad, the legal bills could be staggeringly expensive. Look for personal liability cover of £1 million – at least.
Some questions you need to ask:
Are you covered for extreme sports and activities such as jet skiing?
Does your travel insurance company have a 24-hour helpline?
Is there Scheduled Airline Failure Cover so that if your airline goes bust you won’t be stranded overseas. (Most package holidays will be protected by Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing and the Civil Aviation Authority will arrange flights home if your holiday company goes to the wall).
How about catastrophe cover? Remember the Icelandic Ash Cloud in 2010 when planes were grounded for days?
And terrorism? The Foreign & Commonwealth Office says that “60 per cent of travel insurance policies now cover terrorism”. Make sure your policy doesn’t exclude it.
New-for-old cover means that items that are lost or stolen will be replaced with new ones and not for the amount that you reckon a two-year-old iPhone is worth.
Likewise, if you wear glasses (for sight or reading, not necessarily your gold Ray-Ban Aviators…) make sure they will be covered if they get lost or broken while you’re on hols. Some travel insurance policies don’t offer cover as standard.
And finally …
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that having travel insurance negates the need for an EHIC card. The European Health Insurance Card (apply here, it’s free) will provide state-funded care (it might be free, you might have to pay) while you are travelling in the European Economic Area and Switzerland. It does not replace travel insurance, as it will not offer cover for repatriation or cancellation and so on, and you may also need to pay for some care abroad that you would get free in the UK.
(Our featured image is by Kelsey Christina Karstrand)