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Importance of travel insurance for overseas trips

This article looks at the importance of taking out travel insurance for an overseas trip, as well as the most common features of a travel insurance policy and types of cover available under the benefit sections.

When travelling overseas, existing UK-based insurances you have might not extend to your intended destinations. Travel insurance can provide you with many benefits that ensure if your travels are interrupted, you are able to reclaim, where relevant, any costs incurred.

The common situations that people take out travel insurance for are medical expenses, cancellation of a trip, loss of their baggage and any subsequent curtailment of their trip.

Cancellation cover is a significant feature as you may need to cancel travel plans for various reasons such as, prior to travel, the death of or injury to you, a close relative or someone that you are travelling / staying with. This cover allows you to recoup the costs of travel and accommodation that you cannot use, subject to the terms of the policy.

Baggage cover is often an essential feature to include as this provides insurance against the accidental loss, theft or damage to your luggage whilst travelling. Always check the basis of settlement as most policies will offer to repair, reinstate or replace the items lost in any settlement subject to limits per item, which should be shown in your summary of cover. Deduction may also be made for wear and tear, as the aim of insurance is to place you in the same position financially as you were prior to the loss occurring.

If you are travelling in the European Union and some other designated countries, certain medical costs may be reclaimable by using the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued, upon prior application, by the NHS in the UK. In many situations, though, this does not provide reimbursement for all costs incurred and your treatment will need to take place in a state hospital. Outside of a state hospital and/or outside of Europe, it is necessary to have travel insurance to cover these costs. In the United States medical costs are very expensive as treatment is mainly provided on a private basis.

Travel insurance may also pay for your return home early should your insurer consider it necessary. An escorted repatriation from Europe to the UK can cost over £20,000, indeed a large sum of money for those not insured. You may also be entitled to a proportion of any unused travel and accommodation costs if you have to curtail your trip in this manner.

It is important that you check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) website as daily updates are posted there, advising of destinations that may not be safe to travel to. Travelling against FCO advice often means that you cannot obtain travel insurance to that destination or existing policies are rendered invalid for that trip in most cases.

When choosing travel insurance, it is always necessary to fully read the policy wording. This should be available to you prior to purchase and you should check that the cover you need is detailed in this document. There will often be a “Key Facts” or policy summary document that gives a rundown of the features on offer. Don’t forget to also check what will not be covered and under what circumstances. In particular, it is important to note all exclusions and limitations of cover. If in doubt, ask the provider for clarification or more information.

There are many providers of travel insurance in the UK and to take out insurance often requires that the travel begins and ends in the UK. There is also usually a need for insured persons to be a UK resident for at least 6 months and registered with a doctor here. Many policies also extend residency options to the Channel Islands and Isle of Man but you should check with the provider to confirm this.

When you choose your policy, always look at the amount of excess payable in the event of a claim. Each section of the policy wording should explain any excess that applies and any instances where that excess may be reduced (e.g. when the EHIC is used or if an excess waiver has been applied).

Most policies should offer emergency assistance to travellers and contact numbers for these companies made available at the time of policy purchase (again, check the policy wording). Emergency assistance is available 24 hours a day and assistance can be requested for medical emergencies or similar enquiries. These companies are generally located in the UK but will usually provide assistance in overseas communications especially where there are language barriers.

Next time you look to travel, remember, we can help with all your travel insurance needs.

Summary

The need for travel insurance is significant due to increasing desires to travel again. A travel policy can offer many benefits and checking that you have taken a policy with the right levels to suit your needs is a must. Travelling without insurance could prove very costly as many countries do not provide free benefits to foreign travellers and you may be expected to pay on receipt of services.

Online applications are accepted for the European Health Insurance Card at:
www.ehic.org.uk
For FCO Travel advice:
www.flexicover.co.uk/Page/FCO.
Further details can be found at www.flexicover.co.uk.

Flexicover, a division of Citybond Holdings Ltd., 109 Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 4SY, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to transact general insurance business. Citybond’s Firm Registration Number is 312208. You can check this information by visiting the Financial Services Register at wwww.fca.org.uk.

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