I worked in an emergency medical company within the travel insurance sector for over 3 years. I have seen some of the most gruesome photographs and heard some of the most heartbreaking stories.
Sure, insurance is a big chunk out of your budget, but it is the most essential thing to take with you.
A lot of people get very confused about travel insurance. They often pick the cheapest policy without understanding the level of cover that is provided.
Another problem that seems to occur very often, is people either not taking the time to research or perhaps not understanding their policy.
So in two separate posts, I’m going to walk you through some key points on how to:
A) Help you choose a correct level of cover.
B) Ensure that you take the necessary steps to validate your cover.
Deciding if the cover is appropriate for your needs:
1. Firstly, do you have a free policy with your bank account that you could use before purchasing a policy with a different company? For example, I get free travel insurance for up to 28 days with my bank because of the type of account I have with them, but it only provides cover for Europe, and for leisure purposes only
2.Which brings me to my second point, are you traveling for business or leisure? It’s very important that you ascertain which of these is covered and what the definitions are. Insurance policies always have a section that states “Definitions” and this will tell you what they define as a “business trip” or “leisure activities”.
3.Furthermore, are you looking to do something that may not necessarily fit into either of these category definitions such as voluntary work? Some policies may have a section where they state that non-manual work or voluntary work is automatically covered, some do not.
It is important that if it is not clearly stated in a policy, that you either get in contact with the insurance provider to clarify with them or look for a more specific policy tailored to that purpose. Do not shrug it off and say to yourself “Well if it’s unpaid then it’s obviously leisure” because that’s not how it works!
4.Who is covered? Are you traveling alone, with a friend, or with a family member?
You need to know whether your policy covers just the account/policyholder (which would be yourself), or whether a spouse/cohabiting partner or your children are covered. Generally speaking, your spouse or cohabiting partner would usually be covered, providing you have proof that you are co-habiting (copies of utility bills, council tax, bank statements etc.) and children are usually covered if they are dependant or in full-time education under a certain age. You will need to check the age as it varies in different policies.
5.Areas of cover. For example, how much is covered under medical? Dental? Does it cover cancellation? Flight delays? Natural disasters and political unrest? (are they prevalent in the area you are travelling to?) Lost/damaged baggage?
You need to have a bit of forethought to the type of traveling you are doing and to what areas, and decide what would be relevant to you.
6.Activities. Much the same as the business and leisure section I mentioned, most policies are quite specific about the activities that are covered and there will be a clearly defined list.
I. For example, activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, hot air ballooning, and white water rafting are usually classed as “adventure activities.” Unless you have a specifically tailored policy, you will usually have to pay a premium to add them to your existing policies, so bear this in mind when you are looking at quotes, going with the cheapest quote and then having to add additional cover may end up costing you more in the long run.
II. If activities such as diving are covered, you will need to check what depth you are covered up to, and whether there are any clauses such as having a qualified instructor with you etc. Think along these lines for other activities such as hiking/treks, what altitude are you covered to hike to? Altitude sickness is not uncommon and if you have not ensured that you are covered to be at that level when the incident happens, then it leaves you in an uncomfortable position.
It may be boring, and it may take up a lot of your time, but you will not want to lose out on time nor money!
Work your way through this list and ensure that you have an appropriate level of cover that has your back in all eventualities, and you can enjoy your trip without worry.