There’s no legal requirement for you to have insurance when you travel abroad, but for most tour operators, you having suitable travel insurance is part of the terms of the sale for the booking.

However, it really is essential to have travel insurance, as each year holidays are ruined by illness, robbery or natural disaster, and these can be expensive to resolve.


I haven’t come across many people who have actually read the cover that they have purchased. It’s only when they need to claim that they find out what they’re not covered for. This is usually what they want to claim for.

But why should you get insured? Here are a few reasons;

  • You need to cancel your trip due to illness
  • You’ve had an accident or become ill and you need hospital treatment (maybe a medical evacuation)
  • You’ve been robbed

If you’ve booked a packaged holiday, then things like a terrorist incident just before you leave, cancelled flights and tour operator bankruptcy may already be covered. But if you’ve put your own trip together then you should take insurance that will cover you in case of such incidents.

Buying travel insurance can be really easy; you can now just buy insurance when you visit your local supermarket. But if you want to ensure that you are fully covered, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or want more specific cover, it can be hard work reading all the small print.
Of course, the travel insurance market is just as competitive as the travel market. This gives you a massive choice, but you shouldn’t compare on price alone.

Check the small print before checking the price

You shouldn’t look at any prices at all until you have decided on what cover you want. Also remember to compare the excess. Is it ‘per claim’ or ‘per person claiming on the policy’? If you need medical treatment after being robbed, do you have to pay excess for the treatment and again for the lost items? Is it worth saving £15 on the policy, but then have to pay an excess 100% greater than the slightly more expensive cover?

A few years ago, I had a trip to an animal sanctuary for a holiday. I had insurance through my bank current account. I called the bank to see if I was covered for attacks by lions, leopards and wild dogs. After much prompting it was admitted that I wasn’t covered. I looked online for insurance, but in the end I called a broker and got insured without any fuss. Any questions were quickly answered and I knew exactly what I was covered for.

Brokers are also good for explaining the exclusions, such as skiing or riding a motorbike. One of the biggest problems with travel insurance is the list of things that are excluded.

Typical exclusions include:

  • Being under the influence of drink and drugs
  • Destination – if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travel to a country
  • Activities which the insurer sees as a high risk
  • Being over 28 weeks pregnant
  • Acts of terrorism are not always covered
  • Business Travel
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Your age

So what should you look for, apart from the exclusions, when looking for a policy?

  • Medical Expenses
  • Cancellation or Curtailment and Flight Delays
  • Loss or Theft of Possessions and Money
  • Accidents
  • Disasters and Terrorism