• Think about why you need to be insured

    If you have the appropriate travel insurance it will pay for any medical treatment you need in case of illness or injury. If applicable it will also pay for you to get home.

    It can cover you for:

    • Delay A cash sum will be paid after a specified length of delay, such as eight hours, up to a maximum amount set out in the policy.
    • Missed departure - Should bad weather prevent you from getting to the airport, check with your travel insurer for advice.
    • Abandoned trip - Where cancellation or delay forces you to abandon your travel plans when leaving the UK, policies may also pay a lump sum.

    What you are covered for varies depending on the small-print of the policy that you pay for.

    It is important to consider what insurance you need before booking flights and holidays. If you have an existing medical condition, you should check that you will be able to obtain insurance before booking your flights and holidays.

    If you are taking part in sports whilst away, you may need this to be covered by your insurance. Not all standard policies will cover treatment/travel home if you injure yourself during some sports.

    You may already be insured on an annual travel insurance policy. Sometimes travel insurance is supplied as part of a bundle of other services alongside a bank account or other forms of insurance. However, these kinds of insurance are more likely to require an annual declaration of your health in order for you to be properly insured. If you travel a few times a year, it may be cheaper to get an annual policy.

    Consider the cover you need

    You may be covered by an ATOL if you are buying a package holiday. This will provide financial protection against the insolvency of the holiday company. Through the ATOL scheme, the CAA ensures passengers can complete their holiday, arranges return flights and refunds future bookings if holiday companies collapse. ATOL protection does not cover other things such as medical treatment or lost/stolen property.

    Declare your medical history

    You must tell your insurer about existing medical conditions to be covered for them. You must also disclose any changes to your health during the policy term. Be aware, if the insurer does not ask you about any pre-existing conditions that you have, the condition is almost certainly not covered by the policy. Make sure that you read the policy conditions to ensure that you have the right cover to meet your requirements. You should note that this also applies to travel insurance provided with some credit cards and bank accounts.

    The Association of British Insurers has produced a guide to travel insurance, which may help you decide what cover you need.

    Medical treatment in Europe and the European Health Insurance Card

    If you are travelling in Europe, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC - formerly E111) will enable you to access free or reduced-cost emergency treatment. It is not an alternative to travel insurance and usually only applies if you are treated in a public or state hospital. You should be aware that the EHIC will not cover the costs to get you home if you are ill or injured and may not cover all medical costs, e.g. outpatient costs, prescriptions and medication. The EHIC card does not apply in Turkey.

    Similar reciprocal health agreements exist in other countries, (for example Australia), as well as some British Crown dependencies such as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

    You should always check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or NHS website for the current status before travel. If you travel to a country, or region, against FCO advice it could mean that you aren’t covered in the event of a claim.

    Shop around

    You may be able to get good deals on insurance by going through a comparison website. Some cashback websites give money back to you if you go to their website first, which reduces the overall cost.

    Major disruption and travelling to the airport

    Advice from the Association of British Insurers is that, when adverse weather affects your flight you may be able to claim on your travel insurance (if you have it). In the first instance, contact your tour operator or airline before leaving for the airport to see if your flight is likely to be delayed or cancelled. If your airline or the tour operator tells you to stay at home, it won’t invalidate your claim if you do not travel to the airport - you should not put yourself at risk by driving on dangerously icy or snowy roads.

    Information required when you make a claim

    If your flight is delayed or cancelled and you claim on your travel insurance you will need to provide the following minimum information:

    • Flight date
    • Flight number
    • Scheduled departure time
    • Actual departure time
    • Specific reason for delay (you will need to be more specific than just saying technical reasons and you can obtain this information from your airline)

    If the airline loses your bag, it is damaged or it is delayed on your arrival you can claim from the airline.

    Further information on lost/delayed baggage

    You could also consider claiming on your travel insurance as airlines may not pay out the true cost of what a lost, delayed or damaged bag has cost you. Travel insurance is likely to have an excess charge, typically around £40.