Experts have been consistently reminded travellers of the importance of travel insurance as the holiday market boomed over recent decades. While the majority of travellers are savvy enough to purchase a policy when they book, just three years ago in 2017, around 10 million holidaymakers admitted that they travelled without the correct insurance or any cover at all.
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Furthermore, in today’s pandemic crisis there are thousands across the world who are facing cancelled plans with zero insurance coverage.
With so much focus on travel insurance and its benefits, Greg Wilson, founder of Quotezone.co.uk shared some vital information about travel insurance that some holidaymakers might not realise.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Wilson explained that while travel insurance “is not a legal requirement”, it is “a very sensible investment”.
However, it might not be as straight forward as purchasing one set package and being covered at all costs.
“Some people assume that travel insurance is mostly intended to cover medical expenses, but that is merely one component of a good travel insurance policy,” he said.
“The best policies can also cover you if your luggage is stolen or damaged, if you have to be rerouted to a different airport, or if your trip has to be curtailed due to an emergency.”
Instead, many insurers offer different levels of protection, with optional adds-ons for those with special circumstances or who simply want some extra support.
“As with any type of insurance, travel insurance providers use a wide range of different variables in order to try to assess a policyholder’s risk profile, and then adjust the insurance premium to reflect that calculated level of risk,” explains Mr Wilson.
“That’s why there are different coverage options for different regions because if you need medical treatment while you’re abroad the cost can vary dramatically depending on where you are.
“Similarly, if you need to be flown home unexpectedly (known as repatriation), the cost of that trip can also vary quite a bit depending on where you’re returning from.”
However, he warns: “The activities you plan to do while you’re away can have a big impact on how likely you are to claim as well.
“It probably goes without saying that travellers embarking on a winter sports holiday are more likely to suffer an injury than someone who is merely sightseeing or sunbathing, which is why there are different coverage options for people heading off on skiing holidays, summer cruises etc.”
Even seemingly harmless activities can be deemed as “high-risk”.
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“Some insurance companies class horse riding and pony trekking as high-risk activities, which means you might need to include an add-on for sports activities if you plan to ride while you’re away,” comments Mr Wilson.
Though, this can also be a grey area for insurers and travellers alike, particularly if the insurance company is not happy following an investigation of any claimed incidents.
Mr Wilson points out: “Travel insurance providers can refuse a claim if there is evidence that suggests that you put yourself in danger or behaved recklessly.”
When it comes to medical coverage, pre-existing conditions can also cause an issue if the company weren’t notified about them at the time of purchase.
“You must declare any pre-existing conditions when taking our travel insurance, or you won’t be covered should you get ill abroad,” emphasises the insurance expert.
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He adds: “Travellers who have certain pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to need medical treatment while they’re abroad than someone who doesn’t have any chronic ailments, which again makes them a higher insurance risk.”
What’s more, travellers may still be initially out of pocket if they are forced to seek medical care while abroad.
“If you do need medical treatment while you’re abroad you will usually have to cover the cost of that treatment yourself and then claim it back on your insurance after you return home, so it might be a good idea to carry a credit card with you just in case anything goes wrong,” he says.
However, along with personal wellbeing, travel insurance also offers the option of protecting luggage and belongings, but as Mr Wilson warns this is often an additional extra.
“If you are urged to check your hand luggage in to the hold shortly before boarding the plane those carry-on bags and their contents usually won’t be covered by your insurance,” he points out.
Mr Wilson advises: “The best travel insurance policies can also offer travellers protection against a whole host of risks they might face while they’re away, from stolen luggage to flight delays to medical emergencies.”
Some insurance providers will even offer coverage for the most unexpected of scenarios, such as paying “pay ransom demands if you are kidnapped and held hostage in another country”.
When it comes to making a claim, though, travellers are warned to make sure they have all of their paperwork and evidence in place.
As well as keeping paperwork regarding flights, medical treatment and bookings, Mr Wilson also provides a handy tip for luggage.
“Many insurance providers will require proof of the items you’ve lost/had stolen before processing a claim, so be sure to photograph everything in your suitcase before you leave,” he suggests.
Along with everything else though, is one major loophole of insurance that many travellers are sadly only becoming aware of now.
It is what MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis calls “ASAB” or “as soon as you book”.
Mr Wilson explains: “The impact the pandemic has had on the international travel market highlights just how important it is to take out travel insurance at the same time as you book your trip, though, because if you don’t take out a policy until you’re about to fly you won’t be covered if an issue arises before then.
“For instance, if you took out travel insurance back in January or February for a trip you’re planning to take in the summer or autumn you may well be covered if the pandemic prevents you from travelling.
“However, if you’re only taking out a new travel insurance policy now there’s a very good chance the underwriting terms will have been updated to specifically exclude claims relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
“It’s also important to realise that some insurance providers have put a temporary hold on the sale of new travel insurance policies for the time being, which means you would have fewer options to choose from if you needed a new policy now.”
Travel insurance has always been important, but in these new and uncertain times, it now holds an even greater significance for future travellers.
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