How to get the best deal on travel insurance

When you’re shopping around for the best deals on your next holiday, it’s all too easy to skip out on the insurance part. After all, not only is it no fun thinking about insurance, but you might even wonder if it’s worth getting insured at all. Travel writer Tony Levene from The Guardian writes, that he’s been to “Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Austria, and France, all without travel insurance. If anything goes missing, it’s inconvenience at that moment, not compensation weeks later, that matters. And these countries are on my European health insurance card.” He doesn’t see the point in getting covered for a trip within the EU when most of the time, the things that go wrong aren’t covered by any policy.

Jill Papworth, another Guardian reporter, uses that latest holiday essential, the iPad, to prove a point on travel insurance, “taking your iPad with you on holiday? That £10 cheapo one-week cover is useless when you realise it has a £250 excess and a single item limit of £150, so it won’t cough up.”

Don’t go unprotected

So if it’s not worth it, then why bother, right? Wrong. While it might be well and good to forgo travel insurance for short trips around Europe for any reasonably young and healthy tourist, it’s not a great idea to go unprotected when it comes to travelling with a family, the elderly or those with health conditions. Or as Levene conceded, “I bought cover for a trip to India and for one going from Moscow to Beijing via Mongolia by train, simply because public medical facilities in these countries are less advanced.”

No one wants a case of diarrhoea turning fatal or cut on some coral going gangrenous. Next to currency concerns, travel insurance is one of those things that pays you to investigate. Buying currency when the pound is weak, is a great way to ensure you’re getting the best value for money when it comes to foreign exchange. Prepaid travel cards are this century’s answer to traveller’s cheques but without the hassle. With travel cards, there’s no waiting around in the hotel lobby for a concierge to approve your funds, but there is the same sense of security in knowing the value of your spending money. Should you lose your loaded travel card or anything else of value while you’re away, having travel insurance can help cover any losses. But before you jump in and buy any old policy, do some research and like the currency, be certain of what you’re buying.

  • photo – PDR

Simple tips

Which.co.uk recommends some simple tips to help you choose a policy and get the best deal. Before you tell your travel agent to go ahead and book a policy though, they advise that “your travel agent or tour operator is unlikely to offer you the very best deal on the market.”

The UK comparison site breaks up their top deals into two categories; inside and outside of Europe, listing companies that offer the best value for regular adults, and then listing the best deals for every age group over 65. The older you get, the more expensive travel insurance gets.

Some tips on how to get the best policy at the best price are:

1) Don’t double cover

Check that your existing policies with banks or other insurers don’t include travel cover. If your bank account includes travel insurance, you might be better off purchasing a booster or extra coverage tailored to your situation.

In regards to expensive items, there’s no point covering your jewellery for example on a travel policy, if it’s already covered in your contents policy.

2) Honesty is the best policy

There have been countless articles in the papers about people who have not succeeded in making a claim on their insurance, all because they didn’t read the fine print and tell the truth when filling out their form.

Ensure you disclose all pre-existing medical conditions, as far back as you remember, no matter how insignificant it might seem. To insurance companies, everything is relevant, even that sore back from twenty years ago. While most policies don’t cover existing conditions, they won’t hesitate to use any misinformation or missing information to void your policy should something else go wrong. Don’t give them any reason not to make good should you need to make a claim.

3) Read the fine print

While it isn’t the most interesting way to spend an hour, read carefully over your policy so you know what you are buying. When buying insurance, the old adage ‘buyer beware’ is more pertinent than ever.

Make sure you know what kind of medical cover is offered, particularly when travelling to countries with no public health system like the USA where even basic medical treatments can end up costing you a lot more than you expected.

Take care to read and understand the excess charges. There’s no point paying a large excess when nothing you’re taking with you is worth that much.

Be sure you understand any age limitations and medical coverage restrictions. Find out what they classify as ‘risky’ activities and ‘acts of God‘ as these could be excluded from your policy and determine what they consider as ‘worldwide‘. Jill Papworth advises that not every insurance company considers the US or Canada as part of the world when it comes to ‘worldwide’.

In short, don’t skimp out on travel insurance if you think you can’t afford the consequences of an unexpected accident or misfortune. Take into consideration where you’re going, what you’ll be doing and weigh up the risks of going insurance-free. If you decide that it’s best to invest, then use web-based comparison sites to help you find the right policy for you at the best price available.

  • Sarah Thompson reports from Bristol on a wide variety of lifestyle topics ranging health and beauty to travel and finance. Sarah enjoys helping readers to budget for life’s little luxuries and how to make the most of the online banking revolution. Sarah recommends tuxedoprepaid.com, a leader in the field of currency cards and prepaid technologies. You can read more of Sarah’s writing online and in print. Sarah is also a lover of brogues, vintage dresses and trips to Paris – and the occasional glass of red wine.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You’re also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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