When to take out travel insuranceYou should take out travel insurance as soon as you book with us, just in case you have to cancel your trip for any reason. We have come across a few policies which must be taken out within a few weeks of your deposit payment for your trip.
Medical cover on travel insuranceEmergency medical cover is the most vital element of your travel insurance. If you suffer an injury, medical costs can start to stack up quickly, especially if an emergency medical evacuation is required.
Some policies offer very basic cover with low maximum limits: these should be avoided. In the case of a serious medical emergency in a remote location, you need to be confident that your insurance will cover all the costs for your evacuation and care.
It is hard to know how much cover you need. As a guide, the UK's independent consumer watchdog, Which?, recommends a minimum cover level of £5,000,000 for British travellers heading worldwide. They advise that in most cases this should be enough to cover emergency medical evacuation, any medical bills while in the country and medical repatriation to your home country, if required.
Always insure the full cost of your tripSome insurance companies put a maximum cost limit on the value of trips which they will insure. In the UK, this is typically around £5,000 per person. Many will offer extensions to cover the full value of trips for additional premiums.
Always check the maximum cost of the trip covered by your policy: if you only insure a proportion of your trip, then any insurer is likely to refuse to pay out more than the equivalent proportion of any claim.
If you are resident in the UK and the maximum trip cost covered by your own insurance is lower than the cost of your whole trip, then you may wish to investigate the add-on insurance provided by companies like Top up my cancellation cover. Although we don’t have any direct experience of this company, we were made aware of it by an experienced insurance broker.
Finding the right travel insurance for youUnder regulations from the UK's Financial Services Authority, we are not allowed to make any specific policy recommendations for your insurance.
A vast array of providers and policies is available and the right policy for you will depend upon your circumstances. So we urge all of our travellers to take time to do their own research, so they can choose the best possible policy for their needs.
We note that many insurance companies around the world only offer travel cover for residents of their own country. So although we cannot recommend any policies, we make some suggestions below of companies to contact when starting your own research.
For travellers based in the UKWhich?, the independent UK charity that acts as a champion for consumers, regularly surveys the market and recommends a number of insurance companies. Below are the top-scoring travel insurance companies, as of April 2019.
- Holiday Safe
- LV Travel Insurance
- Saga - only for travellers over the age of 50.
For travellers based in North AmericaBelow are a couple of insurance companies, based in North America, which have assisted our travellers in the past.
- American Express Travel Insurance
- AIG Travel Guard
- Tin Leg
- Ripcord from Redpoint
- Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection
- US Travel Insured
For travellers based anywhereSquaremouth has its HQ in Florida, but offers policies to travellers from most countries – from over 20 insurance companies and nearly a hundred policies. Its site has tools to work out which companies and policies will suit which travellers.
Currently, on the right side of Squaremouth's Covid-19 page is a handy list of insurance providers split by those who offer “Cancel for Covid” insurance cover, “Medical coverage for Covid”, and “Cancel for any reason” coverage. So this site is certainly worth reviewing, regardless of your home country.
Travel Insurance and the COVID-19 outbreakThe coronavirus pandemic has put insurers, as well as much of the rest of the world, under great strain. We have been disappointed to observe that a number of insurers have tried to walk away from their obligations to travellers and businesses.
Our understanding is that UK travellers with good cancellation or travel disruption insurance cover should be able to recover payments made for their trips from their insurers if they choose to cancel because their departure falls during the period that the FCDO has advised against leaving the UK. (Please note that FCDO travel advisories are advice only: travellers may choose to travel, and tour operators may choose to run trips, to areas to which the FCDO advises against travel).
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, some claims have been paid by insurance companies, but many were refused or delayed, sometimes on questionable grounds. Anecdotal evidence suggests that to have a successful claim, you need to keep a meticulous record of your circumstances. You should always:
- Document all your communications with your insurers in writing and keep copies;
- Make a full, formal claim to your insurers in writing, carefully following their claims procedure;
- Insist on a written explanation if your claim is rejected;
- Follow up with the Financial Ombudsman in the UK (or your country’s equivalent) if necessary.
Travel against FCDO advice and cover for COVID-19Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the travel advice issued by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) was advice reflecting only the safety of travel in the country in question. However, since the start of the pandemic, the basis of this advice has changed to include advice that seeks to limit peoples’ movements in general. This has confused the advice for travellers given by the UK government.
The result has been an increasing number of insurance companies offering travel cover for travellers wanting to go to areas where the FCDO advises against travel for non-essential reasons. It is increasingly straightforward to get such cover and policies now usually include cover for COVID-19 infections. Prices for this cover are very similar to more standard travel insurance policies. Currently they include:
- Battleface - instant online quotes for most destinations worldwide;
- Voyager Insurance - Specialist Products - instant online quotes for our African destinations;
- Campbell Irvine - individual quotes, processed manually, for specific trips;
- Seven Corners a US-based company which offers their Liaison Travel Plus cover to travellers from around the world;
- High Risk Voyager usually covers more challenging destinations than ours; they have COVID-19 cover available regardless of FCDO travel restrictions.