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Travel Insurance Glossary

Insurance documents can be confusing, particularly if they use a large number of technical terms or excessively legal language. It’s important that you understand the terms of any policy fully before you buy so we’ve compiled a list of some common terms to help you make informed decisions when buying insurance. As ever, make sure you read your policy to be aware of the specific terms that apply to you.

Airline failure (or Scheduled airline failure, SAFI)

Offers cover for unused flight costs and can get you home if a scheduled airline you are booked with stops trading whilst you are on your trip. This benefit does not cover Charter flights. If you’re taking charter flights, check the conditions carefully.

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Annual Multi-trip

A travel insurance policy that provides cover for several trips over the course of 12 months. There may be a limit on the number of days each trip can last. For these policies, cancellation cover only begins on the start date of your policy - so make sure you have cover in force at the time you book any trip.

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Automatic cancellation rights (or Cooling off Period)

The opportunity granted by law to cancel a policy within 14 days of receipt of the policy documents. Any premium already paid is normally refunded in full (though there may be a deduction for administration costs) if there has been no travel, no claim made (or intending to be made) and no incident likely to give rise to a claim has occurred.

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Automatic renewal

Most companies offer this facility as an option when you take out an Annual policy, to help you ensure there is no break of cover between policies on their expiry. You should receive notice, at least 21 days before expiry, of what the new policy premium will be and any key changes to the terms and conditions. If you are happy with the renewal information, you need do nothing - the premium will be automatically collected and new documentation sent. If you no longer wish your policy to be automatically renewed, just let the company know and they’ll take you off their list.

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If included in your insurance, this covers items which are worn, used or carried by you during a trip up to a total value. If you are travelling for business, it may also cover specific business-related materials. There are often sub-limits for types of personal effects, particularly valuables (often including all electronic goods), so check definitions carefully. Also, if you are not carrying items on you, most insurers will ask for specific precautions to be taken to make sure items are properly covered.

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The amount that an insurance provider may pay you under the terms of your policy up to a stated maximum limit. Be aware that some benefits may be limited by circumstance or situation.

Business goods and equipment

Items of yours used in support of your business activity including portable office equipment such as personal computers, charts and calculators.

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Cancellation cover

When applied to travel insurance, this ensures you don’t lose out if circumstances change and you have to cancel your holiday (for an insured reason) before you travel.

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Change in medical condition

You should tell your insurer about any relevant changes to your health that take place between the date you bought your policy and the date you travel. This includes:

any new treatment or prescribed medication;

any changes to treatment or prescribed medications, including changes in dosages; and

any new sickness, condition, illness or injury which you needed to ask for medical advice.

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This may allow you to recover some of the costs of your holiday if you have to cut your holiday short (perhaps because of injury or illness).

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Delayed departure

Offers some degree of cover if your scheduled means of transport is late leaving once you have checked in at the departure point. This is usually a small amount of compensation to cover things like a meal or telephone calls, payable after you have been held up for a given amount of time.

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Departure point

This is the international airport, train station or port where your trip begins and the one where the final part of your trip back to your home begins.

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Emergency medical and other expenses

Covers you for a variety medical expenses including surgical, hospital and nursing fees, emergency dental treatment and reasonable additional transport and accommodation expenses (which may extend to a travelling companion, friend or close relative depending on circumstances) if needed for an insured reason.

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These are situations or kinds of expenses that an insurance company will not pay a claim for. Exclusions are shown under each section where they apply and there are often General Exclusions that apply to the policy as a whole.

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These are amounts incurred that an insurance company will consider for payment; for example, medical expenses due to contracting food poisoning.

Extended kennel and / or cattery fees

Covers any additional kennel or cattery fees incurred if your pets are in a kennel / cattery during your trip and your return home has been delayed.

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Gap Year

A long-stay style policy designed for those travelling for extended durations. It will usually have an under-50 age limit and may allow returns home without cover lapsing.

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Hazardous activity

Any activity, (mainly sports) which the insurer believes carries a reasonable level of risk over and above just going on holiday. Hazardous activities covered by your policy should be clearly stated in the policy document.

Hijack and kidnap

Covers you if you are prevented from reaching your destination as a result of hijack of the transport or if you are kidnapped whilst on your trip.

Hospital benefit

Normally a flat allowance to help you cover additional personal expenses such as taxi fares and phone calls during a valid stay in hospital.

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Insurance Premium Tax

A tax that is paid on all UK travel insurance policies and should be mentioned in any quotation as part of the price you need to pay. The UK rate is currently 20% but different taxes apply if you live in other jurisdictions, like the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

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Legal expenses and assistance

Covers costs and provides help to pursue civil legal action for compensation against someone else who may have caused injury to you.

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Long Stay

A single trip policy suitable for extended stays, of up to 18 months, though there will usually be an upper age limit applicable.

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Maximum trip limit

The maximum number of days covered per trip on an Annual Multi-trip policy or the maximum length of cover a single trip policy can be offered, where cover is limited by age.

Medical screening

A process used when a traveller has a medical condition to evaluate their health in regards to availability of cover. An insurer will assess any additional travel risk by asking a series of health-related questions. Once these are answered, the results are used to determine the extent of medical expenses cover available for the condition declared and if there is any additional, optional, premium to cover it.


Includes bank or other currency notes (such as travellers’ cheques) and coins

Personal accident

Cover for death, loss of limb(s) or sight, or permanent total disablement sustained due to an accident whilst abroad.

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Personal Liability

Cover for any legal liability incurred for accidental injury, loss or damage to third parties or their property whilst on your trip.

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Personal money, passport and documents

Cover for the accidental loss of, theft of or damage to the money and key travel documents. This usually also offers cover for expenses incurred for a replacement visa or passport if lost or stolen.

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Policy Excess

A policy excess, is an amount that is paid by you on each and every claim that is made under the policy of insurance.

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Pre-existing medical condition

Any medical condition for which an individual received care, treatment or medical advice before a policy starts. Cancer, diabetes, and heart conditions are examples of pre-existing medical conditions which can significantly affect the cost or availability. Make sure you check the specific health warranty of your policy and make any necessary declarations.

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The cost of your insurance cover.

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Public transport

Any publicly licensed aircraft, sea vessel, train, coach or bus on which you are booked or had planned to travel.

Secure baggage area

In relation to the safe storage of your baggage, this is usually a specific location(s) that you are required to keep your possessions when not on you, for a valid claim.

Single trip

Travel insurance that is taken for a single trip (often return but one-way cover may be available for those emigrating). Cancellation cover starts as soon as the premium is paid.

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Ski equipment

Usually refers to skis and snowboards (including bindings), ski boots and ski poles and may also refer to other components of a ski pack.


Usually refers to act or acts committed for political, religious, ideological or similar purposes with the intention to influence a government and/or to put the public, or any section of the public, in fear. Cover for acts of terrorism can be quite limited under most standard policies.

Trip abandonment

Choosing to forego travel and your booked trip after being delayed for a given amount of time, usually at least 12 hours.

UK departure assistance and missed UK connection

Covers extra costs incurred for delays or missed connections following the failure in some way of public transport or a private vehicle in which the insured is travelling.

Winter sports

Additional travel insurance is usually required if you are going skiing, boarding or taking part in similar snow or ice-based activities. It takes into account the greater likelihood, increased costs of a claim and particular expenses related to a winter sporting holiday. Some insurers limit cover to on-piste skiing only, others permit off-piste skiing, so make sure you know when and where you can be covered.

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Please note that

Medical treatment abroad involves making sure that you have immediate expert attention when required and to get you fit enough to return home as quickly as possible.

You must exercise the highest degree of care in everything you do (e.g. looking after your possessions)- irrespective of whether you are insured or not.

Claims arising out of damage/injury with excessive alcohol and drug intake can be invalidated.

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