Travel insurance is notoriously expensive and only seems to be getting more expensive year on year, particularly as you get older.
Why is travel insurance do expensive?
Medical costs around the world are on the increase and only getting worse! Your average bill from an American hospital can literally bankrupt even middle class people!
Shop around for travel insurance!
There will be better-value alternatives to the policy being offered by the holiday company you’re booking with, or the one featured on the website of the airline you’re flying with. Price-comparison websites such as www.moneysupermarket.com and www.confused.com are good starting points, but don’t assume cheapest policies offer levels of cover you need.
For those aged 65 or older, premiums vary wildly. The price-comparison websites can point you towards some of the more competitive options. Though general insurers can offer cheap policies, you may also want to get quotes from oldie specialists, such as Intune (www.intunegroup.co.uk) and Staysure (www.staysure.co.uk). Moneysupermarket.com has a useful list of insurers sympathetic to those with pre-existing medical conditions.
If you’re young, insurers such as AXA and Direct Travel Insurance (www.direct-travel.co.uk), with agerated policies, may be good value.
Consider Multi trip annual cover
Consider an annual, multi-trip policy. If you go abroad more than twice a year, it’s likely to be cheaper than single-trip policies. Companies offer annual cover for just Europe (much cheaper than worldwide), and for couples and families. Premiums can be far lower than the ones I quoted above for my family (which included winter sports and a pre-existing medical condition) – as little as £60 worldwide for a family.
EHIC European Health Insurance Card
Get a European Health Insurance Card (www.ehic.org.uk). Though no substitute for insurance, it costs nothing to obtain, entitles you to free or reduced-cost state medical treatment in many European countries, and your insurer may waive the excess on a medical claim if you use the card.
Don’t duplicate cover. Your possessions may already be covered on your home contents insurance – so you could exclude baggage from your travel insurance and cut the premium.
The Travel Insurance Small Print
Don’t buy solely on price. Check small print to ensure you have appropriate cover. Things to consider include:
General levels of cover: The consumer group Which? recommends policies with at least £2 million of medical cover for Europe and £5million worldwide, £1,500 baggage and personal belongings cover, and £3,000 cancellation cover.
Unexpected event cover: My AXA policy provides cover against the airline I’m booked with going bust, strikes and various natural disasters such as earthquakes (think volcanic ash) and hurricanes. Though this ‘travel disruption’ cover costs extra, I’ve coughed up for it. Without some insurance for these eventualities, if travelling independently you could be seriously out of pocket. (If you’re on a package, the tour operator has a duty of care to help, so such cover is less essential.) Many policies don’t cover all these areas: check wordings carefully. Which? says JLT Travel Insurance (www.jlttravel.co.uk) offers particularly thorough cover.
Travel Tips and Advice from FCO Travel Aware
When you travel abroad, it’s important to plan for your trip well in advance, even if you are a seasoned traveller. The Foreign Office has some great advice on their website about overseas travel, which we have reflected in our tips below:
Buy comprehensive travel insurance and declare any pre existing medical conditions
Apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get cheap, or sometimes free, state provided healthcare in the European Economic Area and Switzerland.
Research the country you will be visiting, even if you have travelled there before. Find out if the Foreign Office has advised against travelling to certain parts of a country or if there is a threat of terrorism.
The FCO publish continually updated travel advice by country; check the latest information before you travel.
Travel Advice by Country
You can also sign up for email alerts to get the latest updates for the countries you are visiting, follow the FCO on twitter (@fcotravel) and on Facebook.
Check that your passport is valid – for some countries it needs to be valid for six months
Make copies of your passport and travel documents and store them separately to the originals
Visit your doctor to ask about travel vaccinations or for advice about travelling with a pre existing medical condition if you have one
If you need to take medication abroad, store it in your hand luggage and get a letter from your doctor detailing your entitlement to medication. Take plenty of spare medication with you in case you are delayed on the way home
Research local laws and customs and pack clothing that abides by them.
Practical Travel Tips and Advice
1. Travel Light
Travelling with just hand-luggage should be your goal. Do you really need six pairs of heels, tea bags, and an iron? Take less and you’ll travel cheaper (no check-in luggage fees), travel faster (no waiting for your bags), and travel easier (one bag means less to lug around). More: 7 best hand-luggage bags
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
2. Leave the guidebook at home
Rather than taking your entire copy of the Rough Guide or Lonely Planet, just photocopy the pages you need, then discard after you have used them. Saves space and weight.
James Teideman, Skyscanner Marketing Communications Executive
3. Never join the security queue with kids in
Go for the one with the ‘suits’. It will move much quicker.
Alistair Hann, Skyscanner Chief Technology Officer
4. Never wear flip flops (on a plane)
I used to work for an airline and we were told never to wear sandals on board an aircraft. In the unlikely event of an emergency, it’s best to have a good set of sturdy shoes that will protect your feet from heat or sharp objects.
Matthew Smith, Skyscanner Content Partnership Executive
5. Jiggle it (just a little bit)
If you’re petrified of turbulence during flights, try slightly jiggling your body when you hit some rough air. No one will notice because everyone is being moved around due to the aircraft movement. Sounds a little crazy but your movement will counteract that of the aircraft and you won’t feel the turbulence so much. It really does work!
Jamie Wortley, Skyscanner PR Consultant
6. Choose your seat-mate carefully
If you get the choice of plane seat, always sit far away from: babies, groups of friends who will chat, or women (men tend to need the toilet less often than ladies). More: REVEALED: the perfect plane seat
Miss Evodie Fleury, Skyscanner Market Development Assistant, France
7. Learn a little lingo
Memorise a handful of words of the local language, and have the courage to use them! It’s amazing how just a few words will go a long way; locals tend to warm to those who have made the effort to communicate with them in their own tongue. More: 7 secrets of learning a language fast
Rachel Evatt, Skyscanner Product Director
8. Keep your mouth shut
If you are in a country where it is unsafe to drink the water, keep your mouth shut in the shower.
Suzanne Morrison, Skyscanner Project Manager
9. Hotels are not the only fruit
Staying in a hotel when you’re on holiday is not the only option. Or in a hostel for that matter. Apartments or rooms in private homes are where the savvy travellers rest their heads these days.
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
10. Ditch your friends
Travelling all by your lonesome might seem daunting at first, but it gives you a chance to really immerse yourself in the travel experience. I’ve met friends for life, learnt a new language, and had amazing experiences by travelling solo. More: 10 tips for travelling solo
Victoria Bailie, Skyscanner PR Manager
11. Always travel in a hoodie
They may have become the uniform of unruly ASBO-teenagers, but hooded tops make excellent travel garments. Just slip up your hood to retreat from the world of noise and light when you want to sleep on a flight/airport seat/bus.
Sam Baldwin, Skyscanner Travel Editor
12. Choose the Asian-vegetarian option on the plane
You get fed before anyone else, you avoid anything too greasy and stodgy (helps the jetlag allegedly) and I’m convinced the more niche meals are much better quality as they’re made in smaller batches.
Victoria Baillie, Skyscanner PR Manager