Travel Insurance

Last Reviewed 12/05/2016

Travel insurance is vital and should be considered an essential part of your trip. There are many different ways to purchase a travel insurance policy: directly through a travel insurance provider or via an insurance broker. If you do not advise your travel insurance company of a pre-existing medical condition, you do not have cover. It is also important to ensure you check the details of your policy for what is and is not included.

I’m only travelling within the EU, aren’t I covered by my EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) replaced the E111 card. The EHIC is valid within the European Economic Area (EEA). It allows access to healthcare, free of charge or at a reduced cost. It enables you to access the same care that residents of the country you are visiting receive. It is customary in many countries to charge for certain services or products such as medication or personal care which the EHIC does not cover. It is therefore important that you have travel insurance as well as your EHIC. The EHIC also does not cover the repatriation (returning you home) cost if you become unwell or have an accident. Many commercial airline operators will refuse to let sick or injured travellers on board, leaving you stranded if you have no travel insurance.

If you go on holiday in 2020, you will still be able to use your EHIC. What happens in 2021 and beyond will be decided in negotiations that will soon start.

How expensive is travel insurance?

Travel insurance premiums vary greatly and can depend on many different factors, such as: your age, health and where you are travelling to. Some insurers provide extra cover for events such as airline bankruptcy or natural disasters for an extra fee. Comparing different providers will help you to find the best price, but remember, the cheapest may not always be the best policy for you.

Should I tell my insurer about my pre-existing medical condition?

Always inform insurers about any pre-existing medical condition or disability you may have. Inform the insurance company about any medication you may be taking with you. You also need to inform your insurer if you are diagnosed with a medical condition or seek treatment even after you have bought a policy. You do not need to tell your insurer about predictive genetic tests, read more about this here.

What should I look for when buying travel insurance?

Travel insurance should be considered as soon as, if not before, you book your trip.  It is vital that you are covered for emergency medical treatment abroad and also to ensure you are repatriated (returned home) safely. If you plan to undertake any hazardous pursuits, such as skiing or paragliding, ensure your travel insurance policy covers such activities. Travel insurance may cover worldwide travel, or may be specific to a single country destination. It is important to understand what cover is included in the travel insurance policy you are buying, so always check the small print.

Always take your insurance documents with you and keep them safe. Many insurance companies have a 24-hour emergency assistance helpline and this should be your first port of call if you encounter a serious problem.

Medical costs abroad can be very expensive with a broken leg costing anything from £10,000-£25,000 to treat. The cost of getting you home can be another £25,000 on top. This is why travel insurance is such an important part of a holiday.

Join our alliance of 200+ patient charities

Join us