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Which Travel Insurance Policy Should You Purchase?

Mar 4, 2008
Deciding on the right travel insurance policy for your needs can be a confusing matter. To help you get started, there are three main types of travel insurance: Single-Trip, Annual Multi-Trip and Extended Stay.

Single Trip

Travel insurance for a single trip means you are insured for one single return trip which departs from and returns to the United Kingdom or Ireland. Policies often include children at a reduced price or even for free - as long as they are travelling with an adult on the same policy.

Annual Multi-Trip

If you travel two or more times a year, you may find that purchasing a multi-trip policy will save you money. This type of policy will provide coverage for unlimited trips throughout the year, and often includes free children's insurance. Annual policies allow for trips of durations of anything from 24 to 90 days per trip. (If winter sports will part of your itinerary, don't forget to purchase supplements such as winter sports cover and cover for hazardous sports or activities in addition to your policy if these are planned).

Extended Stay

This type of policy is perfect for students, backpackers, or those taking a gap year or career break. It provides insurance for those on a budget and would have an upper age limit and some limitations; for example, you might be covered for your clothes and equipment, but not for all types of valuables. The costs could be cut even lower if you are not bothered about losing your bags! Note that most travel insurance policies will only provide cover for your leisure time on an extended trip - not for volunteer work while abroad - so you will need to find a gap year policy which also includes work, if that is your plan.

What's Covered?

As a general guide, travel insurance policies will cover for costs up to certain amounts, such as medical expenses up to 10 million; baggage loss up to 1,500 and cancellation or curtailment of your trip up to 3,000. Depending on the circumstances and nature of the medical emergency your travel insurance policy should cover your hospital bill and medical expenses, including transportation costs to get you to the hospital by whatever means are available (such as air ambulance or by water or over land). If your condition is serious and warrants emergency repatriation back to the U.K. this should also be covered - with a medical professional to escort you if needed. Most policies cover dental emergencies up to a certain limit.

Note that there are conditions and exclusions in all policies and all pre-existing medical conditions must be declared. Certain circumstance can cause a claim to be invalidated, so it is important that you understand the benefits and limitations of a policy.

- Luggage: Your luggage will be insured against theft or loss up to a limit - usually somewhere in the region of 1,500. There may be a per-item limit on valuable items. If your luggage should be delayed or missing for a period of more than twenty-four hours, for any reason, you should be reimbursed for any expenses incurred to purchase necessities. (Note: Always keep receipts for any major purchases of items to use as proof in the event of loss; otherwise insurance cover will be limited).

- Travel documents: Travel documents are normally covered against theft or loss up to a certain limit.

- Cancellation and Curtailment: These terms can cause a lot of confusion. However, if it should become necessary to cancel your holiday plans before you depart, or return home early (curtailment) because of injury or sickness of a close family member or travelling companion your expenses should be covered.

The above is a general guide to most travel insurance policies, and may not apply to all. There could also be unusual circumstances which would invalidate claims so you must always read your policy document and understand the terms of cover. Other features of travel insurance policies may include levels of cover for incidents related to mugging, hijack and terrorism.

Whichever policy you decide on, make sure the cover will be in effect for the entire duration of your trip and for your planned destination(s), whether it be Europe or worldwide. It is also wise to make the policy effective from the date of purchase.

If you plan to engage in any kind of hazardous sports or activities on your trip that is another matter entirely! The topic is too complicated to cover here in any depth, so watch for future articles.

There is much more to learn about travel insurance and this article serves only to explain the three main types. Remember that setting off without travel insurance to save a bit of money is false economy. Okay, maybe you could live without your luggage, or just pay to replace it, but what if you were to be injured in an accident and required emergency medical treatment and repatriation?
About the Author
Jean Andrews is a freelance writer living in the UK. She regularly contributes articles for TIA Ltd who offer travel insurance at great prices online.
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