Personal Finance

Travel insurance: How to make sure you are properly covered

It’s the time of year where many of us are preparing for our summer holidays. Whether you are heading to the beach in Turkey, to see the sights in Paris or for a bit of tropical luxury in South America, make sure you have travel insurance, and more importantly understand the limitations of your insurance. Taking out travel insurance doesn’t automatically mean you are covered for every eventuality.

Here are five things to check.

1. Travel to unsafe areas

Most travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you are travelling somewhere that the British government has deemed as unsafe. This means anywhere that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against travelling to.

At present the FCO is warning against travelling to some popular holiday destinations including parts of Turkey, Egypt and all of Tunisia. Check the FCO website for the latest travel advice for places you want to travel to before booking – and check the small print on your travel insurance policy too.

If you  book a package holiday it should be ATOL protected. This means if the FCO advice changes for your holiday destination your tour operator has to get you home if you are already there, or should offer you a fee-free alternative destination if you haven’t set off yet.

2. Cancellation

If you have to cancel your holiday and want to get your money back through your travel insurance, be prepared for a shock. Most policies will only pay out for cancellations in very limited circumstances, such as the death or illness of a member of the travelling party or very close relative.

If you decide you don’t want to travel due to political unrest or terrorism you probably won’t be able to claim for cancellation. For example, after the Paris attacks last year Eurostar refused to issue refunds to people who wanted to change their plans.

Make sure you understand exactly when you are allowed to cancel by reading through the small print of your travel insurance. Also, consider booking with an ATOL-covered holiday operator. That means if things go wrong when you are abroad they must get you home, as happened in Tunisia and Egypt last year.

3. Zika

The Zika virus is currently spreading across South America and the Caribbean. It is of particular concern to pregnant women as it is associated with severe birth defects.

The Association of British Insurers says that if your doctor has said you should not travel somewhere then most insurance policies will cover your cancellation costs, provided you booked before you knew there was a problem.

4. Dangerous Antics

Finally, be sensible while you are on your holidays. Many insurance policies will not cover your medical expenses if it turns out your injuries are the result of dangerous behaviour. Read the small print of your policy because this can mean many activities aren’t covered such as parasailing, taking a Segway tour, or scuba diving.

Also, be careful how much you drink – some policies won’t pay out if you injure yourself whilst drunk.


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