Worldwide travel insurance: what you need to know

Published 08 June 2018   |   Updated 18 May 2021

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Whether you’re relaxing for a fortnight in Florida, dashing off for a long weekend in New York, or exploring Southeast Asia for six months, worldwide travel insurance could cover you for medical treatment, loss of personal items, flight cancellations and much more.

Some travel insurance policies will only cover you for travel in the UK and Europe, so if you're planning to go further afield, worldwide travel insurance may be right for your trip.

Worldwide travel insurance is split into two categories: worldwide cover and worldwide cover excluding the US, Canada and the Caribbean. Check with your policy provider before you leave the UK to ensure your holiday destination is covered.

It’s also wise to note that the definition of ‘worldwide’ can differ depending on provider. Countries considered by one insurer to be part of Europe may be considered a ‘worldwide’ destination by others, so it’s important to make sure you have the right cover.

Do I need worldwide cover?

Travel insurance is always a good idea, whether you’re jetting off to a far-flung country in the Middle East or popping over to Paris for the weekend. A good travel insurance policy can provide peace of mind, knowing you are covered for unexpected accidents or illnesses abroad.

Bear in mind, some European policies stretch the boundaries to include cover for travel to destinations that you may not expect such as Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Turkey. Worldwide travel insurance is typically more expensive than a European policy, so it may be worth checking whether your holiday destination is covered under a European policy, so you don’t pay over the odds for your cover.

What does worldwide travel insurance cover?

Medical cover

If you fall ill unexpectedly or suffer an accident overseas, worldwide travel insurance should cover your medical bills and if needed, transport back home.

Stolen, lost or damaged luggage

A good travel insurance policy should pay out if your personal possessions or luggage are lost or stolen. Bear in mind, most travel insurers place a limit per item on the claim for valuable items, so if you carry lots of expensive items such as laptops and cameras, you may wish to take out separate cover for your gadgets. Check if these are covered under your home insurance policy.

Flight delays

Policies vary around paying out for flight delays, so check with your provider on this. Your airline should always be your first point of contact if your flight is cancelled or delayed, but if they don’t compensate you your travel insurance policy should pay out typically if your flight is delayed for 12 hours or more.

Cancellations and curtailment

If your policy covers cancellation, you should be able to claim back money spent on your hotel and transport should you be unable to travel. It’s worth noting that policy providers differ on what they consider to be a valid reason to cancel your holiday and may require proof of when an incident occurred, so they can ensure you have not taken out the policy with the intention to claim back on a known event.

Personal liability

Intended for those unexpected instances where you may inadvertently cause damage to another person or their property and are left financially responsible for the damage. This could include a car accident where you have injured someone and damaged their car, for example.

Do I need travel insurance for Australia?

If you are heading down under, it’s important you have the right travel insurance for your trip.

The standard of healthcare in Australia is very good, and under reciprocal healthcare arrangements, British citizens traveling with a UK passport are entitled to subsidised health services under the Australian Medicare scheme. Be warned, however, that the reciprocal partnership is no substitute for travel insurance and will not cover flights home in an emergency or your personal possessions if you’re the victim of theft.

This agreement also comes with some exclusions such as pre-existing medical conditions or non-urgent treatment. Further exclusions include over the counter medicines, use of ambulance services and medical evacuations. This can be very expensive, so travel insurance with adequate medical cover is paramount.

Australia is also very far away from home, so if your trip is cut short due to you falling sick or getting seriously injured, the journey back to the UK is not only long but can be very expensive. Travel insurance could help safeguard you against the unexpected when you're away on your Aussie trip of a lifetime.

Do I need travel insurance for the USA?

From the natural wonders of the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls to the bustling cities of Chicago and New York, there’s nowhere quite like America. But as you are probably aware, medical care in the USA is managed privately and is notoriously expensive. An emergency in the USA could see you faced with a very expensive bill for treatment and possible repatriation. For example medical costs for a stomach bug and flights home could set you back an eye-watering £100,000, according to the UK government’s foreign travel guidance.

So, before you head stateside, it’s vitally important to shield yourself against potential hefty hospital bills with an adequate travel insurance policy. As treatment in the US is so costly, travel insurance for this destination can be pricier than a worldwide policy that excludes the USA, but don’t be tempted to skip on your cover, as without it a trip to ER could end up costing you ‘an arm and a leg’.

America is an extremely vast country, and climates range from temperate to tropical to sub-zero. Due to this, the USA can be prone to extreme weather and natural disasters. You may find that some insurance policies don't cover natural disasters such as floods or earthquakes, so check your policy documents before you purchase.

What do I need to consider?

If your adventure abroad includes taking part in any sporting activities or you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you should ensure you are covered for this. Considerations you should be aware of include:

Extreme sports

If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie and fancy trying out some extreme sports such as paragliding, bungee jumping or rock climbing, make sure your insurance policy covers you for this.

Winter sports

If you get your kicks on snowy excursions, make sure you’re covered for any winter sports you may get involved in such as skiing, snowboarding and dogsledding.

Cruise cover

Perhaps the laidback nature of a cruise appeals to you. If so, you’ll likely need special cruise cover for your holiday.

Should I get an annual or single trip travel insurance policy?

It depends. If you are going on one trip this year and have no plans for another holiday, then a single trip policy may be the cheapest option. An annual policy could save you money in the long run if you are a regular traveller who takes multiple trips a year.

However, an annual policy is not always the cheapest option for multiple trips. For example, if you are planning a trip to the US and then a city break to Barcelona later in the same year, these destinations will require two different levels of cover. The trip to the US would require worldwide travel insurance including the US, Canada, and the Caribbean, which may be pricy if you got annual cover, whereas the trip to Barcelona will only require European cover, so it may be cheaper to buy two single policies.

In addition, if you have pre-existing medical conditions it may be cheaper for you to buy single trip policies.

You can compare travel insurance quotes for both single trip and annual trip to see which works out cheaper for your holiday plans.

How can I compare travel insurance policies?

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 trip.


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