The why’s and where fore’s of travel insurance

 Don’t short change yourself on travel insurance and later regret it

Everyone should purchase an appropriate level of travel insurance before or at the time of booking a holiday because travel insurance provide personal belongings, medical and cancellation cover.

There are many travel insurance policies on the market at varying premiums, correlating to the level of cover provided, exclusions and geographical limits. It is a very competitive market and it can be misleading. 

Here is a check list to help you choose the appropriate level of cover

  • Do you need single trip or annual travel insurance?
  • What is the maximum number of days cover you need?
  • Check if there is an age restriction
  • Check that the maximum amount covered in the event you need to cancel covers the cost of the holiday
  • Does your holiday involve any specialist activities i.e. hiking, safari, pony trekking, hot air ballooning etc  If it does you need to ensure the policy includes these activities
  • If you going to be at altitude (probably over 3000m) then you need to check what is the maximum height covered by the policy
  • Do you need worldwide cover including the US?
  • Do you want end supplier failure insurance cover?
  • Do you want missed departure insurance cover?
  • Do you want enforced stay provision?
  • Do you want pet care insurance provision?
  • Do you want natural disaster and strike cover?

Why you need sufficient cancellation cover

  • Deposits are normally non-refundable
  • Cancellation within 8 weeks of travel normally has tiered penalties

So if you need to cancel a trip after paying a deposit or the full amount and the reason for cancellation is covered by your insurance policy then you will get your deposit back or the balance not refunded by the travel company.

Why you need medical travel insurance

  • If you have an accident or are taken ill on holiday you will need any treatment received abroad to be paid for
  • If you are seriously ill and unable to travel home as planned you may need special assistance and an air ambulance
  • If you have an accident in a remote location you may need search and rescue cover
  • If you die whilst on holiday you need to be repatriated to the UK

Check the policy covers the country you are travelling to for medical purposes.

Check if your cover includes repatriation and 24 hour medical emergency cover.

Check if you need search and rescue cover.  

Travel Insurance Section

The travel insurance part of the policy normally relates to stolen belongings, loss of passport, personal money, muggings, hijack, natural disasters, strikes etc.

Stolen belongings – you must complete a police report form the same day and in the local destination.

Lost luggage, delayed and cancelled flights are the responsibility of the flight carrier – you must complete a form with the ground staff before exiting the airport.   

Personal Liability, death and legal costs

Travel and cancellation insurance normally provides cover for personal liability, death and legal expenses. Amounts vary from policy to policy.

Compare policies, premiums and exclusions

Currently the Post Office, Tesco, Saga and Trailfinders offer good travel and cancellation insurance. Most policies offer options for higher cancellation amounts, single trip or annual policies and add-ons for sport and specialist activities.  Specialists for high altitude cover include BMC and Snowcard.  If you want a tailor-made policy then contact Hiscox or contact a broker.

Finally and very important

  • As a traveller it is your responsibility to ensure you have adequate travel insurance
  • Don’t rely on your bank or credit card company for the ‘free’ insurance they provide unless it covers everything you need
  • You must take out the travel insurance before or at the time of booking your holiday to be fully covered.
  • You must take out insurance in your country of residence for legal and repatriation reasons
  • You must declare any on-going health issues and medical treatment received in the last two years as these will not normally be covered
  • Check the exclusions
  • Speak to the insurers directly if you need specialist cover and request they ask the underwriters if supplementary cover can be provided and at what cost
  • Always travel with a copy of the policy, your certificate number and emergency contact details of the policy provider

ATOL Licenced Travel Companies

If purchasing a holiday, special event or trip that includes flights and other arrangements then  make sure the organiser has a full ATOL licence (air travel organisers licence). This is issued annually by the CAA – Civil Aviation Authority, which means the Company is financially sound and approved to organise holidays and events, and provides you with full financial security. This should not be confused with ABTA, which is a trade association for high street travel agents in the UK and provides no financial security.


Spencer Scott Travel Services ATOL License is no 3471.

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