The Truth About Travel Insurance – What Does a Basic Policy Cover?

Although it is actually a holiday essential, a lot of people will quite happily go away without any kind of travel insurance. Your travel insurance should be considered your most important holiday purchase – possibly even more important than your tickets – because you need to be covered if you, a family member or any other dependent falls ill, is injured, or needs medical treatment for any other reason.

It’s not just illnesses and medical treatment that travel insurance covers though, if you need to cancel your holiday or your airline goes bust then the right cover can prevent a holiday nightmare.

If you don’t have the correct insurance policy in place then your dream holiday can soon become a nightmare as medical bills and cancellation costs can run into thousands. If you’re going anywhere outside the UK then you should purchase travel insurance before travelling, but it can be a minefield, so here are the basics you need to know.

The basics

Although if you’re fit and healthy, your travel insurance shouldn’t be too expensive, it’s not always the best idea to go for the cheapest, if it doesn’t cover everything you need.


If you have to cancel your holiday or cut it short for some reason – maybe someone’s taken ill or you lose your job and can no longer afford – you should value this at a maximum of £3,000 or the price of your holiday. If you’re planning on cancelling your holiday then make sure you read the small print beforehand. You need to make sure you’ll be covered for the reason you’re cancelling, for example, if you cancel your holiday because your best friend is taken ill then you’re insurance company is unlikely to pay out as the majority stipulate a ‘close’ family member.


If our flight is delayed for more than twelve hours, your insurance company will step in and you should be compensated. If you are delayed for such a period then you should ask an airline official to confirm the length of the delay in writing and keep receipts for anything you’ve had to purchase as a result of the delay – i.e. food, drinks, somewhere to stay etc.


Make sure your policy will pay out for lost or stolen baggage or belongings; most people put a value of around £1,500 on these items. If you’re carrying particularly expensive items, like a laptop or camera, then most insurers will add these to the policy separately but there will be a limit on the pay-out for such items.

Personal liability

Even if you’re not planning an action packed holiday, it’s always a good idea to take out some personal liability insurance, just in case you happen to injure someone while you’re away. Most people take £1 million of personal liability insurance, to make sure they’re covered for the majority of instances.

Medical cover

Some countries charge a fortune for medical assistance and you don’t want to be left with a massive bill at the end so make sure your take out enough cover. Most experts recommend £2 million of cover to ensure all medical bills can be paid for and the cost of getting you home early, if necessary.

If you’re pregnant then you should check the terms and conditions of your policy, most firms will insure pregnant women until around 24 weeks.

Pre-existing medical condition

You should always declare a pre-existing condition to your insurer, although they’re unlikely to cover such an illness. If you’re asthmatic and suffer an asthma attack while abroad, your insurer is unlikely to pay out, but if you fail to notify them of the condition, your whole policy could become invalid.


If you’re travelling with your children then a family policy is often much cheaper than insuring everyone individually. However, it’s worth checking the excess terms because some firms charge excess per family member which means that if a family of four had to cancel a holiday, they’d have to pay the excess charge four times.

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