Travel insurance is not a tax on travel
Travel insurance could help out with all sorts of problems for the holidaymakers making the most of the school holidays, both in the UK and abroad. Whether it’s getting your money back if you need to cancel your holiday, if you have been robbed, or need urgent medical help.
According to Aviva’s newly published UK Claims Report, medical emergency was the most common reason for Aviva customers to claim on their travel insurance last year (33% of claims). This was followed by cancellation cover for specific circumstances (28%) and claims for lost or stolen personal items or baggage (13%).
Have you got the right cover?
Despite the risks, many holidaymakers travel without travel insurance. Or worse, they don’t check that their travel insurance covers all their activities, such as hiring a jet-ski.
Aviva’s Technical Claims Manager, Jason Harris, said:
“Most of the common water sports are covered as standard on Aviva policies, for example jet skiing, swimming, banana boats, snorkelling. However, customers should always check the policy booklet to see exactly which water sports are covered and if there are any restrictions, especially if they intend using jet skis or other motorised vehicles, vessels or yachts.”
It is not just motorised water sports that can be an issue when making a claim. Some insurance companies may not pay out if the claimant had been drinking before their accident or robbery.
“When it comes to drinking alcohol on holiday, we do not expect customers to avoid alcohol, however they need to be aware that Aviva will not pay claims arising because they have drunk so much alcohol that their judgement is seriously affected.
“Each claim is assessed on its own merits and we would assess whether or not the alcohol was, on the balance of probabilities, the cause of the incident.”
Check the cover the policy provides
Buying travel insurance can be really easy; you can now just buy insurance when you visit your local supermarket. It is important to ensure that you are fully covered. Particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or want more specific cover, then it can be hard work reading all the small print.
“In order to keep the cost of travel insurance down for customers, all insurers tend to apply limits to the basic level of cover.
“Often, customers can then choose to top up their cover with extra options to suit their personal needs.
“For example with Aviva’s standard travel insurance customers can chose to add cover for scuba diving, winter sports, travel disruption and extra baggage cover, amongst others.”
Holidaymakers shouldn’t compare on price alone. What are the exclusions? As mentioned already, water-sports or drinking alcohol may not be covered by a basic policy.
Use professionals to help find the right policy for your trip
Researching travel insurance can be confusing and time-consuming. Brokers are good for explaining the exclusions, such as skiing or riding a motorbike. 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
As well as the exclusions, the traveller needs to decide if to get a single trip or an annual policy.
“Annual cover can prove a cheaper option for people who go on holiday regularly. The actual cover provided by Aviva is the same, whether customers chose annual or single trip cover.
“It [annual policy] may be more expensive than single trip cover for people who go on holiday less regularly.”
It is not only the exclusions that need to be checked before buying travel insurance.
Check the excess figures
- Is it per claim or per person claiming on the policy?
- If you need medical treatment after being robbed, to 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?
- Can you only claim once?
It can be very expensive to get medical treatment in some countries. Some hospitals won’t treat you unless they know that they will get paid. If you need to be flown home then the costs are sky high (sorry). If you are uninsured you may end up losing your
“It’s really important for customers to tell their travel insurer about any pre-existing medical conditions, or if they are awaiting test results for any diagnosed or undiagnosed condition.
“They also need to tell their insurer about any changes to their health after they have bought their insurance, but before they have started their trip. This is to make sure that they have the right level of cover in place.
“If customers do not tell us about pre-existing conditions, we may not be able to pay out for claims relating to these conditions.”
Warning: The insurance company can access your medical files during a claim. They will find anything you missed off your application.
Aviva travel insurance tips
Jason has the following top tips for finding the right travel insurance for you:
- Always check what you need to tell your insurer about your health. For example any existing medical conditions or tests and investigations. You don’t want to invalidate your cover should you need to make a claim.
- Understand the specific cancellation and missed departure reasons that are covered by your policy. Missing a flight because you overslept is sadly not covered.
- Taking expensive items away with you? It’s worth checking your baggage cover to consider whether the sums insured are sufficient to cover them. You may need additional cover, or if there are conditions such as ensuring your valuables are kept in your hand luggage.
- Already booked your holiday? We recommend that customers arrange travel insurance to start from the day their trip is booked, not from the day the holiday starts, to ensure there’s cover for any listed cancellation reason.
Before you leave or if you need to make a claim
The following tips are taken from The Travel Researcher’s Guide.
- Before you leave you should scan your policy and email it to yourself using a web based email account such as Gmail. Then if you lose the copy that you have taken with you then you can easily get another copy. Have the policy number stores in your mobile’s memory (not the SIM card), along with the contact numbers
- Your email should also include all the emergency contact phone numbers. Also leave a copy of your paperwork with a family member or friend in case the internet is not available due to the natural disaster
- Make sure that everyone travelling with you knows how to find the details. If you are travelling in a group make sure that you know how to get each other’s information
- Always report any theft or loss to the local police within 24 hours. Do not let anyone suggest that you delay this (such as the hotel manager). Make sure that you have records of everything that you might claim for (such as receipts and photographs)
- Always make sure that you keep the receipts of any costs that you incur (travelling expenses to report lost passport, meals when delayed, etc.)