Protect yourself with travel insurance this summer

MILLIONS of us will be jetting off on summer holidays abroad over the next few months, but don’t forget to pack travel insurance along with your sun cream.

Despite the huge risks involved in travelling without cover, amazingly around one in seven people still travel overseas completely unprotected. This is despite the fact that any savings made by scrimping on cover could turn into a false economy if an accident happens while you are abroad and you have to pay for medical treatment, or an expensive holiday has to be cancelled.

If you are going to Europe on holiday, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will provide you with sufficient cover. While it will give you basic emergency medical treatment in EU countires, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, it won’t pay out if any of your luggage is lost, you need to cancel the holiday, or if you need to be repatriated back to the UK. However, while it should never be seen as a substitute for insurance, it is still well worth having, so if you haven’t already got one, you can apply for the card through the website, or by telephoning 0845 60 62030.

According to financial research company Defaqto, travel insurance has never been as cheap as it is today – an even better reason for buying. Its 2008 survey into travel cover analysed prices for over 235 single trip and 245 annual travel policies, looking at how premiums have moved over the last six years. The report found that the only area where premiums have increased in the past year was for annual travel cover to the USA. However, premiums are still lower than they were in 2003, even before infation is taken into account. Single trip cover for a short break to Europe can now often be bought for well under £10 – a small price to pay for peace of mind.

While price is obviously a key factor when buying travel insurance, always check the cover limits carefully. Some limits may look very generous, but within those limits there may be caps on the cost of each item, and it is important you are aware of these. For example, if a policy is offering cover of up to £1,500 for personal belongings, you might find that within this there is a limit of £150 per item, so if you are travelling with a music system or digital camera which costs much more than this, you won’t be able to claim for the full price you bought the item.

You should also check the exclusions of any policy carefully – some won’t pay out if, for example, you were found to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs when you had an accident. Find out what the excess – the portion of any insurance claim you must pay yourself – is too.

And remember, if you are planning on making two or more trips abroad, it may be more cost effective to take out annual rather than single trip cover, and it will save you the hassle of buying insurance each time you go away.

By Melanie Wright

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