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UK Travel Insurance Guide

Whether or not to buy travel insurance has become more important than it once was due to bankruptcies of airlines and tour operators, non-refundable air fares, health factors and natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Insurance plans may be comprehensive, while others can allow you to buy a specific types of cover.

What Needs To Be Covered?

Your travel insurance policy should cover:

* medical expenses
* personal liability
* cancellation and curtailment
* loss of baggage and theft

The most important parts of the cover are the medical expenses to cover the cost of any emergency medical treatment you may require, and personal liability - this covers you in the event that you're faced with a bill for any damage or injury you cause to anyone else or their property while you are on holiday abroad.

You should also have insurance cover to pay out a lump sum if you're injured or if you die while abroad. The amount of insurance for each of these categories obviously differs from policy to policy, usually the cheaper the policy, the lower the cover. It may also be worthwhile choosing a policy which offers an international helpline, especially if you are going to a country where English is not a frequently spoken language.


Who is covered?

Individual

This is cover for you, personally. It is not compulsory to buy travel insurance from your tour operator - if they claim you have to buy their insurance in order to qualify for discounted holidays, you should report them to your local trading standards office.

Couple

If you take out travel insurance as a couple, make sure you are covered if you travel independently of each other.

Business

If you go away on business trips on a regular basis, make sure you are covered - many policies exclude business travel.

Family

If you have children, family cover may be better value - but watch out for the number of children allowed on the policy. Also check if your children are covered if they travel independently from you.


Policy types


Annual

If you travel more than twice a year, it is probably cheaper, and definitely more convenient, to take out an annual travel insurance.

Most policies will specify the maximum length of each trip (usually 31 days), so make sure you check the small print and find a policy with flexible rating if your trips are going to be longer.

Annual policies will generally cover winter sports for a duration, but may not include scuba diving.

Single Trip

Policies are available for trips up to a specified duration. Cover for winter sports will usually mean a higher premium.

Backpacker/Longstay

Policies are available for students who decide to go on a backpacking holiday, and those lucky enough to be taking a longstay holiday. These policies often cover working abroad, but check the small print.

Winter Sports

Policies do not always cover wintersports, so extra cover will be necessary. Check your policy to make sure that your chosen winter or dangerous sport is covered.


Areas of Travel

The cost of your travel insurance will vary according to the area of the world you intend to travel to. If you're only going to be travelling within the UK you are unlikely to need holiday insurance, exception possibly cancellation cover in case you need to cancel a prebooked holiday. Otherwise, policies usually offer European cover (check for exceptions), or worldwide cover. If choosing Worldwide cover, make sure your policy includes the USA and Canada, if required.

Form E111

If you are a national of the UK or of a European Community country, or Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway or Sweden, and are travelling in those countries, you should obtain a E111 certificate and take it with you when you travel.

The certificate entitles you to state emergency treatment in those countries, though you may still have to pay some additional charges. It is not a substitute for medical travel insurance which gives far wider cover. Most insurers may not give a discount if you have E111, but it does help to keep the level of premiums down.

In the UK, Application forms for E111 are available from Post Offices.

Here is a list of some of the best value providers of travel insurance:

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