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Travel Insurance: Are you really covered?

And top clauses to look out for

January 11, 2020

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EDIT (26/03/2020): With everything going on with the Corona virus and with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office now warning Brits against all non-essential foreign trips until at least mid-April, now more than ever its imperative that you become familiar with your travel insurance policies, especially if you're looking to snap up some cheap deals for the later part of this year, in the hope that the spread of the virus will subside.

Yes, flight prices are at an all time low for peak summer months, but before booking, you should consider whether the cost of the flight is worth potentially losing, as to date we haven't come across policies offering cover for coronavirus-caused cancellations and claims, and even if you have an annual policy, most are now excluding coronavirus cover for newly-booked trips.

Alice Ogeh

FOUNDER & EDITOR

A Lawyer in her previous life, the copious hours of scrutinising law text books, case law and wikipedia have resulted in the birth of a creature, whose capability to research into the paths less trodden, surpasses most seasoned travellers.

Travel insurance, whether you want to admit it or not, is a staple when it comes to enjoying your holiday abroad. Using sites like comparethemarket.com and confused.com will bring out an array of different companies offering travel insurance cover sometimes from as little as £5 for the average healthy millennial, all with different terms and conditions and different terminology, making it difficult to determine to what extent you're really covered. However as an ex-lawyer, I am always looking out for the fine print and I think there are a few things which every traveller needs to consider when getting cover:

Get Cover As Soon As You Book

Sounds obvious I'm sure, but I'm always surprised at the amount of people who only decide to purchase travel insurance once they find out that they can longer go on their trip - by then its already too late! The same day I book my travel flights and hotel is normally the same day that I purchase travel insurance if the destination isn't covered by my annual policy, because not only do most standard travel policies cover you for medical emergencies, baggage delays and the like, but a key component is the ability to claim when you need to cancel a trip.

Expect Additional Premiums For Adventure Sports

There are some insurance policies that even class hiking/trekking or horse ridding as an adventure sport which is not covered by the core policy terms and will require an additional premium under an add-on policy. Usually your travel insurance schedule is where you can find the activities covered by your insurance. For instance in my travel insurance schedule, reference was made to "Activity Pack 1" being included. Annoyingly you will often have to refer back to the full policy terms and conditions, down to the definitions (which for most insurance companies having adopted the same of similar layout for ease of consumers, should be close to the first few pages) to find out what that activity pack covers. 

Under my insurance, the following activities were covered under Activity pack 1, as standard and while it does cover a lot, this was at a greater expense in comparison to other insurance quotes:

The Question of Gadget Cover

You will be lucky to find a travel insurance quote that will cover the full or close to the full amount of your costly gadgets when abroad, especially if you're travelling with a laptop! Most travel insurance policies have not only a single item limit, but a combined total limit which you can claim under their standard policies, forcing most techie consumers nowadays to purchase additional gadget cover (which often costs more than double the actual initial insurance quote). So if you're whole suitcase goes missing and it had your £800

laptop, £300 camera and £700 camera lens, if you had taken out the same insurance that I did when I travelled to Marrakech, you would have been largely out of pocket and your travel insurance would essentially (at least in this respect) have become redundant:

The key places to look to discover any restrictions or upper limits regarding gadget cover is within the full policy terms and conditions. Now I know that no-one really ever wants to spend the time reading through a whole 29+ page document (and this is what some of the cheaper travel insurance companies bank on), but as a workaround, if you know that the key items you would like covered are your

techie bits, search through the document using the CMD and f button on a Mac laptop or SHIFT and f button on a windows laptop to look for key words like: 

  • Laptop
  • Camera
  • Gadgets
  • Electric
  • Electrical

Also look out for other restrictions such as the age requirements for your laptop or gadget:

In most cases (especially if you have expensive gadgets, including your phone) it is far more economical to take out your own annual gadgets insurance, most of which also cover your gadgets while abroad.

How Have You Secured Your Valuables

Most travellers don't know this, but your travel insurance wont pay out if your stuff goes missing just anywhere. Say if you take your bag with you to the beach and you leave it by your deck chair to take a quick dip in the water and in between that time, your bag goes missing or gets stolen. Try calling up your travel insurance and in most cases the response you will get back is "computer said no" So as not to go bankrupt, in scenarios like the one above it is often considered that you take full risk of those items, even if you bring a key and padlock! The two most common situations in which your travel insurance is likely to cover is: 

  1. Where your belongings/valuables are locked away in a safe in your hotel room or
  2. Where your belongings/valuables are locked inside the concealed boot of your car/rental car and there is evidence of break in

There may be some slight variance to the above from policy to policy, but if your policy covers more than two above scenarios as standard, without having to pay an arm and a leg for the premium, consider yourself lucky.

Airline Failures

If you booked your flight and hotel independently i.e. not part of a package, as most people nowadays tend to do with the likes of Skyscanner and Expedia, it's almost mandatory that you ensure that your travel insurance covers scheduled airline and end-supplier failure, which protects you if an airline, villa company or ferry firm goes bust after you've booked your holiday.  

Most people take a glance at their insurance schedule or summary and assume that they are covered for such things, but if you take a closer look at most policy terms, this is usually only the case in standard policies, where you booked a package holiday e.g. you book your holiday (flights, hotel & transfers) via Thomas Cook as one package. If your transfer fails, goes bust etc., you will be covered (subject to individual policy terms and limits) for your losses, likewise for your flight and hotel. But if you booked your flights directly with the airline and then booked your accommodation via Booking.com, not only will you NOT get the automatic cover of ATOL and ABTA, but you will have to look very closely at your travel insurance to see whether it will cover you too.

Check Your Home Insurance

All standard insurance policies will have a 'get out' clause, whereby any pay out to you will in certain circumstances be reduced, limited or completely withheld, where you are able to and have obtained a pay out from an alternative source, such as the airline direct, a home insurance policy or even a credit - if you paid for the thing which you are claiming for by credit card. This may have been the case for me under my travel insurance, if my flight to Barcelona had been delayed as I paid for the same with my credit card and certain EU regulations (while we remain part of the EU) mean that I qualify for compensation for delays past a certain point.

As you can see from my policy that even if the compensation received from any third party wasn't enough to cover the claim which I would have been granted under my policy (i.e. £150 as a maximum), my travel insurance would not cover the difference and I would not be permitted to make a claim, once I receive payout from an alternative source. 

It's always a good idea, before travelling abroad to check your home insurance policy to see whether there is any overlap. In most cases with standard travel insurance products, there aren't any unless you have added a gadget extension as some home insurance policies also cover gadgets abroad.

I hope these tips help and that in future when purchasing your travel insurance, especially when carrying valuables, this article will help prompt you to take a closer look at your terms and conditions.


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