1) What is it?
Travel Insurance is a compound product covering numerous risks – which makes it fairly unique in terms of insurance products. Claim rates tend to be high, which suggests that on the whole customers get good value from it.
2) What risks are covered?
Not every policy is the same but generally, you can expect cover for
Medical costs in the event of an accident or health-related emergency
Loss of Cash or Travel Documents
You may also see cover for
Repatriation of mortal remains
Emergency Dental cover
Credit Card Protection
Event Cancelation – e.g. concerts, sporting events, races etc.
These are known as features, but what you are really buying is the peace of mind.
3) Start Point
Most policies insist that you must travel from your home territory and that cover must commence before you depart.
In principle, this means that you can buy up to the point that you get on the plane, cruise ship etc.
Again there are specialist policies that will allow you to buy after you have travelled. They will be more expensive and they may have a moratorium period - e.g. you can't claim for the first 48 hours after buying the policy
4) Start Cover Early
Many people don’t realise that they should take travel insurance out at least a month before travelling. If you get sick or are unable to travel for genuine reasons then the cost of the entire trip may be covered.
By leaving the insurance until the last possible moment, you essentially forgo this benefit. typically you cannot buy travel insurance once you have boarded the plane but there are exceptions…. which are expensive of course and come with an exclusion period so for example, you may be unable to claim for the first X hours of cover.
This is to ensure that you don’t try to take cover for something that has already happened.
5) Number of Days Limit
Annual or Multi-Trip cover may have a limit on the number of days that you are away from your home territory. So you cannot simply go away for a year with a standard annual plan.
The number of days varies by plan but is typically 30, 60 or 90 days before you must return home. These policies are designed for regular travellers as opposed to global nomads. There are specialist policies out there that cater for longer term trips - but of course, they are more expensive.
6) Adventure Sports
Winter sports like Skiing and Snowboarding, and other higher-risk activities may be covered by your policy but please read the conditions.
Skiing off-piste "within the bounds of the resort" - may be impossible to check in practice when the boundaries are under several metres of snow.
Equally Scuba Diving may only be covered to a few metres.
Better policies will cover most activities and again specialist policies can be purchased for things like racing.
If you are going on a sporting, or adventure type holiday where you will undertake risky activities or could potentially need rescuing (e.g. from a mountainside, by helicopter) then insurance becomes far more valuable and yet the cost is surprisingly low.
8) Sports Equipment and other expensive belongings
These are unlikely to be covered up to replacement cost. For example, there is usually a luggage protection limit and then a sub-limit of e.g. US$500 per bag. If you have a nice set of golf clubs, surfboard or bicycle it is easy to require cover beyond this. The most usual way to do this would be to add these items to your home insurance as "worldwide all risks"
9) Age Limits
Most travel policies will have an age limit. Ours caps out at 70 but some are as low as 65. Occasionally the insurer will agree to extend the age limit with a small premium increase and there are specialist providers such as SAGA in the UK
Some policies include children free, but the medical limits are often halved for the children. Please spend the extra for full cover for your children, as I have never yet met a Doctor who charges less for treating kids.
10) Is travel insurance a scam?
Absolutely not, we have been running for around 18 months and have had numerous claims from our members. I’m happy to say that to date only one claim has been rejected and that due to a misunderstanding about what was claimable – from a member who had previously successfully claimed a significant amount of money.
Most travel policies that are attached to credit cards are group schemes that are designed to be hard to claim against. The credit card wants the travel insurance feature but not the cost of covering all the associated risks. So, for example, you may get accidental death and dismemberment cover but not medical cover, or you may find that the limits are too low to be effective in markets like the USA, or that you have to “activate” the policy before you travel.
It is safer to assume that you cannot claim on your credit card’s policy and then if you are successful it is a pleasant surprise. I do know people who have claimed for e.g. damaged luggage
11) I get cover through my business/job
This is worth checking as many group policies will only cover you whilst you are travelling on business for your employer. Stay over an extra couple of days as a min-vacation and you are likely to invalidate cover for the whole trip.
Your Winter Sports activities are very unlikely to be covered under your work policy, although if you enjoy full international medical you may be able to claim for your hospital bills. Probably worth checking before you go through.
12) What if the Airline / Travel Agent goes bankrupt?
Usually, if the Travel Agent goes bankrupt there is some cover through IATA – International Association of Travel Agents (providing your agent is registered)
An airline going bust will depend on your cover – ours does not cover this
You must claim within a short period of time - this may be 2-3 weeks after your holiday. Please keep all documentation including any hospital receipts and reports, police reports, expenses receipts, boarding passes, e-tickets etc as you may need them for the claim.
Send in a claim form even without all the documentation so that you can state that you have started the claim within time. If you are outside of the time limit - try to claim anyway and explain the reason why your claim is late.
Note that if you are claiming for a flight cancellation or delay the letter from the airline should be as specific as possible - a broken air-conditioning unit should be classified as mechanical, not as operational as it may affect the claim.
14) No harm in claiming
Most travel policies do not bar you from reapplying if you have claimed before and there is no travel policy that we are aware of which has a no-claims bonus
Brad Emery Founded The Aviva Travel Club in 2017 to make travel less hassle for regular travellers.
You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website