A consumerís guide to travel insurance this summer

The dog days are upon us; that time of the year where garishly designed towels seem a worthy investment, spectacles are discarded in favour of sunshades and swimsuits of all shapes and sizes are adorned with style, sun-cream and no shortage of swagger. But have you bought travel insurance? If you are one of the masses of people scouring online price-comparison sites for the best deal, the choice can be perplexing. 
The need for travel insurance is often disregarded, as most of us believe ourselves to be responsible individuals, who would rather not part with hard earned money purely to guard against our own incompetence. Passports, plane tickets and bum-bags; these are travelling necessities for the shrewd Brit, but do that warrant splashing out on the weighty expense of travel insurance. 
Those who are frequent purchasers of travel insurance usually justify their decision by highlighting that you could find yourself confronted with a troubling family issue on your day of departure; or you may suffer a distressing illness mid-trip; perhaps redundancy could rear its repugnant head causing disarray. If you havenít enlisted with the right insurance company, your dream destination could turn into dismal devastation costing you thousands in shortfall.
However, if you do seek the prudent option and invest in the right travel insurance, you ought to ensure you enlist with the optimal insurance providers, who can thoroughly satisfy your individual needs. Although cost is an important aspect to consider, the cheapest option may not be the practical one; there are many other factors to consider.  
This is your one-stop, comprehensive guide to securing the best value for your travel insurance needs.
Fundamentals
In a competition-fuelled industry, providers are constantly slashing their prices down seeking to attract new customers. However, these seemingly low prices can prove misleading. Many providers will take out or reduce certain features of cover to attain the lowest prices and appear at the top of price comparison tables. When choosing travel insurance, you should be sure it covers the following fundamental levels of cover:
Personal liability
If you harm someone whilst abroad they could make a claim against you, thus personal liability up to £1m could prove a commendable investment.
Cancellation & Curbing short 
Due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a relative passing away or a significant development at work, you could have to cancel or cut your holiday short. The suggested limit is £3000 or the cost of your holiday. However, it is essential to pay attention to the fine print as you could feel entitled to insurance, yet not meet the criteria necessary to receive it. For example, you could have to declare a family memberís illness to your travel insurance provider; failure to do so would result in your claim for cancellation being rejected if said family member passed away.
Baggage
Policy ought to guarantee cover worth up to £1500 if your baggage is stolen or damaged. 
Delay 
You are entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed for more than 12 hours. In order to ensure compensation is provided speedily, contact the airline and request confirmation of the delay in writing. Additionally, keep accounts of anything youíve had to purchase as a result of the holdup.
Emergency aid
Most insurance companies offer a 24 hour helpline, which could prove invaluable when coping with time differences abroad.
Medical cover
Expert opinion considers £2m of medical cover suitable if youíre travelling abroad. Including repatriation in case an emergency flight back to the UK is needed for access to appropriate medical care.
If you have been diagnosed with a debilitating disease, you must disclose this to your travel insurance provider, as policies usually wonít cover pre-existing conditions.
Stepchildren
If you have stepchildren it is necessary to scour the small print of any prospective travel insurance provider. 
Key factors to consider when seeking travel insurance
Big insurance companies encompass many of the smaller ones youíll come across on price comparison websites. For example, travelinsurance.co.uk is a branch of InsureandGo, which in turn is part of Spanish insurance giant Mapfre. Check the ëabout usí section of inconspicuous providers to see if they help comprise reputable insurance companies.
If youíre using a comparison site, all policies are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which comes under the regulation of the FCA.  This could entitle you to compensation if the brand youíre with implodes, leaving you in the lurch. Moreover, the scheme seeks to shift your policy to another insurer.
Always keep documentation of an incident if you feel that you have been cheated out of your money. Keep any correspondence and take pictures as these will aid any claim you make considerably. 
Fairer Finance, a service which ranks insurers on their customer service and general conduct, allows you some insight into wider public perception of insurance providers. Tesco, M&S and First Direct are amongst those rated gold star. 

If you are uncertain about a policyís capacity to fulfil your needs it is worth contacting a broker, a list of these are available at biba.org.uk. They will try to assuage your angst and check that the policy pays out for your needs. 

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