Most people buy their travel insurance as soon as they’ve booked their flights / hotel / holiday, as they will usually be covered for cancellations, but there are some people who prefer to leave buying their insurance until the last minute so they can get the cheapest possible premium. What do you think is best, and why bother with Travel Insurance at all? I recently had the opportunity to have a virtual cup of coffee and chat with Beth Macer, Travel Insurance Expert.
Samantha- What made you become so interested in travel insurance?
Beth Macer- I’ve always been interested in travel, different countries and cultures and I spent a gap year traveling and working abroad. The type of cover offered by Payingtoomuch.com is specifically designed to cover those people in the UK with pre-existing medical conditions and I have always been interested in the medical side of things, having previously worked for a medical supply company, so when I had a chance to put the two together, it seemed like the perfect job opportunity to interest me.
S- What is the most common reason people need travel insurance?
B- Travel insurance is designed to protect you against a variety of eventualities, such as loss / theft of personal possessions, holiday cancellation and public liability costs amongst other things, however the most common reason people need insurance is for medical expenses and repatriation. A travel insurance policy is most commonly designed to cover the cost of emergency medical treatment abroad in the event of something unexpected occurring – something which can be very costly!
S- Is travel insurance like homeowners insurance, where they pay only a fraction of what it will actually cost to replace/cancel, or does it fully cover losses and accidents?
B- All travel insurers have different cover levels / policy limits for each section of cover, for example a standard UK insurer will cover £2000 baggage / personal possessions and £5000 cancellation / curtailment. The level of cover is designed to pay you back fully, for any losses or cancellation costs (that are irrecoverable elsewhere), provided that the value you have paid for you holiday etc. is within the limits set by the insurer. With travel insurance there are different levels of cover available, so it is important to make sure you purchase a policy with enough cover to protect your needs.
S- Are there different types of insurance? If so, what do you recommend purchasing?
B-There are different policies available, depending on what it is exactly that you want to insure. Some policies will only cover emergency medical expenses, with no baggage or cancellation cover, which is great for people traveling last minute to a family holiday home, as they are then not paying for something they may not need. However this type of policy may not be suitable for people taking a 3 week cruise or all inclusive holiday packages which have been booked in advance – in this instance they may need cancellation cover in case they can’t travel, or a policy to cover travel delays if they miss a flight.
It is always advisable to shop around to find the best policy available to suit your needs. There is no need to pay for something on a policy that you don’t require cover for – ask the insurer if they can remove something if it is not required. Likewise however, it is important to make sure your policy does include any additional benefits you may need to cover – such as winter sports cover if you are planning a skiing trip, or cover for specific sports equipment, such as golf clubs, if you are taking such items away with you.
S- Do all passengers traveling together need to buy separate plans, or is there a blanket plan for all members of a group?
B- There are different options available in this instance. Most people traveling together do prefer to be insured together on the same policy because this means if anything happens to one member of the party, all the travelers are insured to claim, for example if one person couldn’t travel and had to cancel, all the travelers on the policy would be covered as well. Whereas if the travelers were all insured separately, only the individual affected traveler could claim. Generally speaking it is slightly more expensive to cover all travelers on one policy, because there is the increased risk of the insurers having to pay out for multiple claims, however it is obviously entirely down to the travelers, whether they are dependent on each other and would need to claim together.
S- Have you personally ever needed to use your travel insurance?
B- Luckily, I have never had to make a claim on an insurance policy myself, however I am only too aware of exactly how costly a claim can be if you do not have the right cover in place, after speaking to people who have needed to claim, for example, the cost of treatment for a broken leg in the USA is around £15,000 – which is a huge figure to have to fund yourself if you do not have adequate insurance cover in place.
S- What exactly does travel insurance cover?
B- Every travel insurance policy will be different as each insurance provider offers different benefits, however the standard things you should look to be covered for are:
- Medical expenses and repatriation.
- Cancellation and curtailment
- Personal property (including baggage and travel documents / passport / money)
- Personal accident
- Personal liability
As I said, many providers also cover additional benefits, such as travel delay, loss of medication and catastrophe cover, however the exact benefits will vary by provider, so it is important to read your policy carefully to ensure you know exactly what you can and can’t claim for.
S- Is there travel insurance for pets?
B- There are specialist insurance policies available, which offer travel cover for pets, however this is a much more specialized type of cover, and it is not normally something you can add on to a standard insurance policy as an additional benefit.
It is worth noting though, that some standard insurance policies do cover costs of additional kennel or cattery fees, for pets you have left at home, if you are delayed on your travel insurance policy, so your pets are not entirely forgotten about.
Note: PayingTooMuch.com only provides travel insurance applicable to UK residents, but the information is good for everyone who likes to travel.