Travel insurance - 11 things to check before you buy

Travel insurance - 11 things to check before you buy

You’ve bought your sun cream, picked your holiday reads and crammed half your worldly goods into your suitcase. But have you got your travel insurance yet – and do you really know what you should be looking for in a good policy?

Here are 11 things we recommend checking to make sure you can relax on holiday knowing you’re suitably covered.

1.     Will your cover last long enough?

With single trip policies you should make sure your cover will last for the whole duration of your trip. With an Aviva single trip policy you can select a trip duration of up to 120 days. Most multi-trip travel insurance policies also have a limit on how long each trip can be –  and if you go over it, you won’t be covered. Our limit is 31 days per trip for multi-trip policies, but you can add extended stay cover [link to optional extras piece] to your policy if you’re planning to be away for longer.

2.     Are you starting your policy in time?

If you’re purchasing an annual multi-trip policy, it’s usually worth starting your policy from the day you buy it. Sometimes people decide not to start their policy until the first day of their holiday. But that will be a problem if you need to cancel your break, as your cancellation costs wouldn’t be covered. If it’s a single trip policy, your cover will automatically start from the day you buy it – that’s why it’s always worth buying as soon as you can.

3.     Is your destination covered?

It sounds obvious, but it’s important to make sure your travel insurance covers you for the destination or destinations you’re heading to – as policies vary from one provider to another. Some companies include Turkey and even Egypt under their European cover, for instance, whereas others don’t. (For the record, at Aviva we include Turkey and Tunisia under European cover, whereas you’d need a worldwide policy for Egypt.)

4.     Will you have enough cancellation cover?

As your bank balance will attest, holidays are expensive. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re covered for the total cost of your trip in case you have to cancel. The Money Advice Service recommends you have at least £2,000 cancellation cover. At Aviva we provide £5,000 per person as standard to give you a little extra peace of mind.

5.     What reasons can you have for cancelling?

Policies will only cover cancellations in certain circumstances – so check the terms and conditions before you buy. The most common reasons for cancelling are illness or injury, so it’s important to tell you insurer about any medical conditions you or your fellow travellers have when you apply (even if you think them insignificant).

Aviva will also provide cover if you have to cancel your trip if you’re called for jury service or as a witness at court, you’re made redundant, your home is made uninhabitable due to fire, storm or severe weather, or if the police need to speak to you following a burglary at home or work. If there’s a chance you might have to cancel, contact your insurer as soon as you can for advice.

6.     Do you have enough medical cover?

One of the most important reasons for having travel insurance is in case you need emergency medical treatment – and it’s vital you have sufficient cover. At Aviva, we give £10 million cover per person as standard, but some insurer’s policies fall way below this. To put into perspective how important having sufficient cover can be, treatment in the US following a heart attack can cost in excess of £250,000.

7.     Will you be covered if you go thrill-seeking?

Bit of an adrenaline junkie? Best check your policy to make sure you’ll be covered, as what one insurer covers can vary from another. Whatever action-packed activities you have planned, it’s important to follow all appropriate safety precautions, even if it is covered by your policy.

8.     Will you be covered if you miss your flight?

It’s worth checking this, as many basic travel insurance policies won’t cover you for new flights – even if you miss yours through no fault of your own.

At Aviva, we’ll cover you if you arrive late because of a delay or cancellation of public transport or a connecting flight, or if your vehicle breaks down or has an accident which prevents you from making your flight. Bear in mind that you’ll need to provide documentary evidence, though – such as a report from the repairer or breakdown assistance provider. We don’t cover missed departures for trips solely within the UK.

9.     What sort of support will the insurer give you?

It’s worth trying to find out in advance what sort of help your insurer will give you if you need it. After all, the last thing you want is the stress of having to sort everything yourself if something does go wrong on your holiday. At Aviva, we have a 24 hour helpline, with an experienced team on hand who’ll help you with medical emergencies and provide advice on lost or stolen travel documents and tracing lost or delayed luggage. Not every travel insurance provider does, though, so check before you buy.

10.  What are they like to deal with if you need to claim?

We’ve all had bad customer service experiences before – and it’s not what you want to face if you have to make a claim. One way of getting an idea of whether your insurer will come through when you need them is to have a read through any reviews policyholders have given. We publish all our customers’ travel insurance reviews online good or bad – and some others have started doing the same.

Of course, regardless of what the reviews say, you’ll still need to  meet the terms and conditions of your policy if your claim is to be successful.

11.  Are there any extras you need?

A standard travel insurance policy should be enough for most trips, but if there’s something specific you want cover for – or if you want a little extra peace of mind – you might want to consider adding optional extras to your policy. For instance, if you’re going skiing you’ll want winter sports cover, or if you have an annual policy and want to stay away for more than 31 days, you’ll need to add extra cover to your Aviva policy. Optional extras explained 

Make sure you can truly unwind on holiday with Aviva travel insurance. Includes cancellation cover of up to £5,000 per person, and a 24 hour helpline for any advice or support you need. Find out more.

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