- Buy insurance as soon as you arrange your holiday
Six out of 10 people buy travel insurance within a week of their departure1, which means they potentially miss out on valuable features such as cancellation cover. If you need to cancel or cut short your holiday because something unexpected happens, cancellation cover allows you to reclaim some or all of the money you’ve already paid for your holiday - typically, the cost of travel tickets and accommodation. In 2018, the average cancellation pay-out was £8692.
There’s also Scheduled Airline Failure cover, or SAFI for short, which in the event of your airline going bust, will provide cover between £100-£15,000. Whether or not SAFI cover is included is usually shown in the cancellation cover section of the policy information.
It’s worth remembering that insurers will only consider claims for cancellation or SAFI cover if the customer could not have been aware of a potential problem before buying the policy. For example, the problems at Thomas Cook were being widely reported several days before its collapse. If you had not arranged your travel insurance before the problems became public, it is unlikely an insurer will payout for a claim – which is why it pays to sort it straight away.
- Ensure the family is covered for medical emergencies
The high cost of medical treatment abroad is the main reason people buy travel insurance. Last year, the average medical claim paid out by insurers was £1,3682.
When applying for insurance, you must provide honest, accurate and complete information. Declaring any existing illnesses will probably make your premium more expensive. But, if you don’t tell your insurer about a pre-existing medical condition, then you will invalidate your policy.
If you’re travelling to Europe, ensure that each family member has a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This entitles them to free or subsidised state-provided medical treatment. An EHIC may also save them from paying an excess on a travel insurance medical claim.
- Watch out for excessive excesses
An excess is the amount of money that you pay towards any claim, for example, if your claim for £250 and the excess is £50, the insurer will pay out £200. Different excess levels typically apply to different sections of the policy.
How the excess is applied makes a big difference to the amount you could reclaim. Depending on the policy, excesses can be applied per person, per incident or per policy section.
Where several people are covered under one policy the excess may be charged per person, not once for the whole group. So, if a family of four, claimed for a holiday cancellation – four excesses would be applied.
Some policies apply an excess per incident, so if your flight was delayed, and your luggage was stolen, two excesses would be applied.
- Annual travel covers UK breaks
The price of UK-based vacations also rockets during the school holidays. Most annual travel policies provide valuable insurance for staycations. Cover applies for pre-booked UK holidays of typically one to five consecutive nights away. While medical treatment in the UK is excluded, other costs such as pre-paid travel and accommodation for cancellation or curtailment are covered.
- Holiday activities
Families planning an adventurous or sporting holiday will need to check they are buying the right level of cover and follow any safety precautions and conditions outlined by their insurer.
A review of over 1,100 annual travel policies3 found only 73% cover cycling as standard, while 61% automatically cover horse-riding.
- Check cover for children
Divorced or separated parents need to make sure they buy a policy covering all the children travelling with them. Only 76% of travel policies reviewed include cover for step-children regardless of whether they live with the insured parent or not, 22% only provide cover for children who reside with the insured parent; 2% exclude cover for step-children altogether. Insurers who don’t automatically provide cover for step-children may allow them to be added.
Children named on an annual family travel policy may not be covered if they are taken on holiday by their grandparents, other family members or friends.
- Shop around for the best deal, not just price
Cover levels and prices vary widely between insurance policies so, families should shop around to find the policy which meets the needs of their family and holiday plans, at the best price. Customers using GoCompare can make an informed choice by looking at both the price and cover levels of policies. GoCompare also uses Defaqto star ratings (to show the quality and comprehensiveness of a product’s features and benefits, with 5 stars being the highest rating) which appear on the quote results pages.
And a note on Brexit
Travellers are advised to keep a close eye on the Brexit situation as it may impact travel plans later this year. The government and travel operators are advising passengers of the possible impact of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, including checking you have at least six months left on passports, talking to your car insurer about a "green card and having appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover to ensure there are no issues around EHICs.
Sally Jaques, travel expert at GoCompare commented: “Travel insurance gives you valuable financial protection if your holiday doesn’t go as planned - but it’s only good if it pays out when you need it.
“As we saw last week, the collapse of Thomas Cook shows that even large, popular companies can’t be protected from financial failure. So, when arranging cover for your family holiday, it’s essential to check the small print to ensure the policy suits your holiday plans. For extra protection, look for policies that offer cover for Scheduled Airline Failure if you’re booking flights separately. And, don’t forget to take a copy of your policy with you, so in case of an emergency, you know how to contact your insurer.”
For more information on saving money on your travel insurance visit: https://www.gocompare.com/travel-insurance/top-tips-for-buying-travel-insurance/
For further information please contact:
Anders Nilsson or Louisa Marsden at GoCompare on 01633 654 054 / 01633 655 132
Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845
Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @GoCompare
Notes to editors
158% of holidaymakers who bought through GoCompare in 2017 did so within one week of their departure date. Nearly half of those (28%) arranged it on the actual day their holiday began.
2Association of British Insurers; 2018 travel insurance claims figures (published 7 June 2019).
3Defaqto Matrix of 1,156 annual travel insurance policies (13 September 2019) - instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.
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