Oops….make sure your travel insurance will cover you for holiday mishaps!

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We are approaching holiday season where pensioners head off to beat the school holiday rush, teenagers jet off to celebrate the end of exams and families finally get to have their fortnight in the sun!  I love the moment when I can gather up my four babies, husband and a bikini and disappear off somewhere warm for a while!  Holidays are a time for fun, sun and laughter and hopefully not calamities, but what happens if you do have a holiday mishap?  Would you know what to do and most importantly, would you have travel insurance to deal with it?

I am amazed that people are still willing to travel abroad with no insurance.  Travel insurance can cost less than the cash you will splash in the departure lounge waiting to board your plane, so there’s really no excuse!  However, it is important that you get the right policy and know exactly what you are (and aren’t) covered for.  As always, shop around for the best deal, but never buy a policy based on price alone – the cheapest policy may not be right for you!

Many people opt for the cheapest most basic travel insurance policy but price should not be your only consideration. The ABI say that as a general rule, you should only consider policies that include £2 million for medical expenses, £1 million for personal liability, £3,000 for cancellation, £1,500 for baggage and £250 for cash. Many ‘cheap’ policies cover you for far less than this and if you do need to claim you may find that they won’t pay out for the full amount. It all depends on what you really want cover for – if you are likely to be doing some watersports or have a family, then upgrading your policy to a silver or gold level of cover would offer you more peace of mind and a much higher payout if there was an emergency.

You also need to make sure that your travel insurance policy covers you for the destination you are travelling to, and this isn’t as obvious as you might think!  Some Worldwide policies don’t actually cover you for the US and Canada but do cover you for New Zealand and Australia.  However, you usually don’t need to buy a worldwide policy for much of North Africa as Egypt, Morocco and Turkey come under Europe in most deals. This shows you why reading the details of any policy is so vital for travel insurance. 

It is the same for what you will and won’t be covered for – travel insurance comes with many exclusions so don’t fall into the trap and get caught out.  For example, if you have an accident whilst under the influence of drink or drugs then your insurer will not pay up. Imagine breaking your leg and not being able to afford the special flight home! Likewise, if you leave your bag on the beach whilst you go for a dip in the sea and it gets stolen, it is unlikely you can make a claim as your possessions were left unattended. It is also your responsibility to make sure you get to the airport on time so you probably can’t claim anything back if you miss a flight.  Most airlines will be sympathetic and try to get you on the next flight but they don’t have to and will probably charge you.  The only thing you can do is check your travel insurance and see if you can claim the cost of the flight back under the terms of your policy.  Also look at what counts as a dangerous activity – horse riding, jet skis and a spontaneous bungee jump can all be excluded from standard policies.  For more advice visit

Baggage is one of the biggest areas for complaint for air passengers but luggage is only declared lost if it hasn’t been returned to you after 21 days.  For lost luggage, you’ve then got seven days after it has been declared lost to make your claim.  The airline is unlikely to give you enough compensation to cover the full cost of your luggage and belongings, so travel insurance is likely to be your better bet here.  Speak to your insurer about buying new items and having the cost reimbursed and keep all receipts.  However, in most cases, the airline will quickly trace your bag and will have it delivered to you, free of charge, in the next day or two.  Using social media can be a GREAT tool to get things resolved quickly too (winks)!

If you aren’t happy with your accommodation, on the whole, travel insurance will only pay out when costs can’t be recouped from another source (like a tour operator or hotel) so always go direct to sort out problems first. The operator or rep may not realise something has gone wrong, and if you don’t give them the chance to rectify it, you will be on weak ground if you decide to claim compensation later. If it is a serious problem, you will need written, photographic and video evidence, and, if appropriate, contact details of witnesses.

Finally, remember that if you are travelling within the EU, as well as travel insurance, you should ensure that everyone in the family ALSO has the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which means you can have medical treatment in state run hospitals at the same cost as a local.

I don’t like being all doom and gloom but it is better to know the facts before you go so that you can head off to sunnier climes with peace of mind!  Bon voyage!

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