Better to be safe than sorry

Voyages abroad can certainly be costly ventures, as dramatic events of the past few days have proved.

First of all came the near miss of BA038, the British Airways Boeing 777 that narrowly avoided catastrophe at Heathrow Airport. With officials expecting the plane to be written off the cost could be as high as £125 million.

With the Greek ship Ice Prince sinking in rough seas off Dorset last week, insurers somewhere are likely to be suffering a serious financial headache.

The costs of these two disasters may rather dwarf those a typical holiday maker is likely to suffer, but modern travel can throw up some huge unexpected costs and with 12million people booking holidays between Christmas and the end of February, now is the time to think about getting exactly the right policy. gives some top tips on covering against all eventualities.

Think annual

The best insurance policy for you will depend on how often you’re planning to travel. It’s possible to take out individual policies every time you leave the country but if you’re going to spend a considerable amount of time abroad you’ll save admin time and a good deal of expense by taking out an annual policy.

Not only will you have the convenience of only paying once, but these policies are generally only two and a half times the cost of a week’s cover, making them a lot cheaper if you travel a frequently.

With annual cover it’s important to note that some policies will only cover you for individual trips of a limited length. This can be anything from 21 to 45 days, so if you’re making an extended trip then better cover may be required.

It’s also important to check what date the cover starts from. If you start your annual cover from the day you first jet off then you won’t have any cover against cancellation costs. It may be worth starting the policy from the date of booking instead.

Look where you’re going

While a decent travel insurance policy will cover you for most eventualities it’s certainly worth looking into what, if any, reciprocal arrangements your country of choice has with the UK.

There are just under 60 countries that have healthcare arrangements with the UK, meaning that for emergency treatment you’ll be as covered as you would be if you were at home.

However, though you may be on firm ground for the actual treatment, the cost of getting to the hospital in the ambulance or (worse) helicopter won’t be covered, and without the right insurance you could end up with a massive bill.

It’s worth noting that the UK doesn’t have any agreement at all with the USA so, any trips across the pond should be well and truly insured.

More beyond the high street

According to Alliance and Leicester UK holidaymakers overspend on travel insurance by £1.3 billion every year. That’s despite it being relatively cheap – usually around £25 for each week abroad.

The reason is that far too many of us take the easy option of taking out insurance with the travel agent with whom we’ve booked our hols. All too often, policies are presented as free add-ons when the reality is you’re bound to pay at some point.

Online companies have found ways to slash the prices of flights, hotels, and car hire, and the same goes for insurance. So for the best deals get online. Insure and Go, and Primary Insurance are a good place to start looking.

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