Why should I buy travel insurance?

Published 08 June 2018   |   Updated 18 May 2021

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Holidays can typically be among our biggest purchases each year, and if you’re budget conscious, you might be thinking about skipping the travel insurance in favour of a few extra beers by the beach. Before you do, here’s a few things to consider.

The cost of medical insurance abroad

Whilst in the UK we’re lucky enough to have access to free healthcare under the NHS, other countries don’t always provide the same level of free care for their citizens or visitors to their shores. If for example, you’re hiking in Yosemite National Park in Northern California and you take a tumble down a hill and break a leg, your medical bills could run into hundreds of thousands of pounds by the time you’ve been treated and transported home.

Just having an EHIC is not enough

Before the UK’s departure from the European Union, British travellers could use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access medical care in EU countries. However, the UK has now formally left the EU and access to treatment in Europe is changing from 1st January 2021.

The EHIC is being phased out and replaced by a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

If your current EHIC is still in date, it will remain valid for travel to the EU until it expires. You can find this expiry date on the front of your card. Just like the old EHIC, the new GHIC gives British travellers access to state-provided medical care in EU member countries.

This is obviously valuable, and travellers should always carry their cards when visiting EU member countries. However, treatment is not always free meaning you may have to find money to pay for any shortfall. You usually won’t be covered for getting home, either.

Unlike the old EHIC, neither the current EHIC nor new GHIC will cover you for non-EU counties Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein or Switzerland.

And don’t forget, it’s not all about medical expenses. Without travel insurance, you may not be covered if your trip gets cancelled or delayed, if you lose your luggage, or encounter any legal issues while on your holiday.

To find out more about visiting Europe after 1st January 2021, the government has published a range of guidance and notes.

Having to deal with a medical emergency

You’re on a family holiday and your mother, who’s with you on holiday, falls ill. You’re trying to get medical care for her but don’t speak the language. It turns out that she’s going to need a long stay in hospital and repatriation home.

Having an appropriate travel insurance policy in place would give you and Mum the financial support needed to deal with this stressful situation, so you can concentrate on helping your mum get better rather than worry about the increasing costs of the healthcare.

Many insurers have a 24-hour helpline which you can use to find out where to take her for treatment..

As long as everything had been declared correctly at the time of purchasing the policy, and you’ve chosen a policy with enough cover, your mother’s medical expenses would be covered, and the insurance company would arrange for your mum to be flown back to the UK if this was in line with the medical view.

Imagine having to sort all that on your own!

Travel insurance included through your bank account or credit card provider

Some bank accounts and credit cards include travel insurance as part of their overall package. You’ll need to check the policy to see if the cover is sufficient for what you need. For example, some might only provide European cover rather than worldwide and if you plan on doing any extreme sports, these can often be excluded.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition, these will need to be declared and can lead to an additional premium being charged or may be excluded from cover. Should your health change or you develop a medical condition after you’ve taken out the policy, you should notify the insurer and you may or may not be covered, depending on their terms. This can often be overlooked and should be considered should any changes to your health occur.

Don’t forget also, that for family cover, this declaration is likely to be required for each of those covered by the policy.

Finally, cover for your children will change once they reach a specified age and they will become ‘excluded’. This is often at age 18 although can be whilst the individual is in full time education or age 21 so again, do check your policy.

Compare travel insurance quotes

At Compare Cover we’ve made finding and comparing travel insurance quotes quick and easy.

Our online quote form is simple to use, and our travel guides are full of helpful facts and information to answer questions you may have about purchasing the right travel insurance policy for your next trip.


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