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To Buy Or Not To Buy - That's The Travel Insurance Dilemma

May 10, 2008
If book your holidays through a travel agent, either online or via the high street, chances are that you'll be asked if you want to include travel insurance at some point during the transaction.

Faced with this question, consumers can often make one of two big mistakes. Either they say yes without shopping around and pay far more than they need to, or they say no but don't bother arranging travel insurance at all.

Why Travel Insurance is Worth the Expense

After you've paid out hundreds or even thousands for a holiday that might be your only break for the year, why would you balk at an extra 5% to ensure it doesn't become a holiday from hell?

The right travel insurance policy can provide much needed comfort and financial relief if your luggage is lost, your flight is canceled or if you fall ill while on holiday. Among the many benefits you can expect from a good policy are:

- Trip Cancellation benefit

If your trip is canceled through circumstances outside your control and after the time period that the travel or tour agent will reimburse you, trip cancellation cover will pay you a percentage of the amount you've paid to reserve your place.

- Lost Luggage Cover

Lost luggage cover will reimburse you for items that were in your luggage if lost or stolen. Be aware, though, that there are limits to the amount an insurer will pay out per bag and per item. If you're carrying an expensive digital camera, for instance, or jewelry, chances are you'll want to take out insurance specifically to cover it.

- Health and Accident Cover

While limited health care costs are covered under EHIC, it's not likely that the full costs of medical care will be covered that way. A travel insurance policy will cover medical costs and more. A medical emergency overseas can mean extra costs for accommodation, prescriptions and even repatriation. Most policies will even cover the cost of flying a family member or other companion to accompany you back home if necessary.

- Repatriation Benefit

There are other reasons you may need to return home than illness or accident. Some travel policies will reimburse you a percentage of the costs of your holiday and pay for travelling to return home under unforeseen circumstances, including a home fire, a relative's illness and even a pet's illness. Be sure to read the fine print to see exactly what is covered, and to what extent. It's worthwhile to be generous when deciding how much repatriation coverage to pay for. If you did need medical care and special treatment for a return home, for instance, the costs can run into tens of thousands.

- Cash Replacement

While your credit card companies will step in to quickly cancel any lost credit cards and provide you with replacements, you could be on your own if your cash is stolen or lost. A good travel insurance policy will cover cash losses up to a set amount - and get it to you quickly.

- 24-hour Emergency Help Line

Look for a policy with a company that has a 24 hour emergency help line - the assistance you get there can be invaluable in a difficult situation. Emergency operators can help get you set up in accommodation if needed, expedite claims and get services to you as quickly as possible. When you're stranded in an unfamiliar country with no luggage, no cash and not even a toothbrush, something as simple as an emergency voucher to cover the cost of toiletries and bedclothes can make a world of difference.
About the Author
Many travellers pay too much for holiday cover because they fail to shop around. In fact, it's easy to compare travel insurance companies in minutes by using price comparison sites like travel insurance supermarket and Confused.com.
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