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Travel insurance: everything you need to know

5 mins read
by Kate Morgan
Last updated Tuesday, June 11, 2024

If you’re considering travelling soon, getting the right insurance can make all the difference.

Travel insurance helps protect you from falling ill, getting injured, having your flight cancelled, or even being robbed while on holiday.

There are many different travel insurance providers and packages on offer, though. So, what should you look for in a travel insurance policy? 

In this article we will cover:

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What is travel insurance? 

Travel insurance protects you from the consequences of unforeseen events or emergencies while on holiday.

The right policy should protect you from theft, illness, injury, holiday cancellation and if you need to return from your holiday early in case of an emergency.

Some travel insurance providers offer additional protection if you test positive for COVID-19 before flying out and if you have to isolate or return early after contracting the virus while on holiday. 

What does travel insurance cover?  

Travel insurance providers offer various insurance policies that cover different parts of your holiday.

The exact coverage will depend on the specifics of the insurance policy, so when you’re shopping for the right deal, pay close attention to what each policy protects against and what will trigger an insurance payout.

As standard, the following should be covered: 

  • Holiday cancellations 

  • Illness, injury and medical costs while abroad 

  • Holiday curtailment  

  • Theft and loss of belongings 

Some policies may go further than this, reimbursing you in case of a sports injury, such as winter sports travel insurance or in some situations where catching Covid means you can’t travel or have to return early. 

Does travel insurance cover Covid?  

Some insurance providers will protect you from certain Covid-related issues, but conditions are attached.

Most policies will refund you if you need to isolate before your holiday and cover the costs of medical treatment and extending your holiday if you develop symptoms while abroad.

Policies will typically not help you in cases where you have travelled to a country on the UK government’s ‘red list,’ against government guidance or in case you decide you don’t want to travel.  

Some travel insurance policies offer protection when it comes to Covid, but it’s important to be entirely clear on what is and isn’t covered.

As long as you are travelling within government guidance, some protections are available to you. 

What travel insurance do I need?  

The right travel insurance will depend on where you’re travelling, if you have pre-existing medical conditions and potentially even what you intend to do while on holiday.

There are dozens of available insurance policies to give you peace of mind while you travel.

It is best to cover yourself with some of the most common travel insurance, such as: 

  • Single trip travel insurance: This covers your emergency needs for a single trip in the future. 

  • Annual multi-trip insurance: Multi-trip insurance covers the journeys you make over a year – regardless of how many trips you make. 

  • Winter sports travel insurance: Winter sports insurance specifically accounts for winter sports and the injuries you might incur while skiing or snowboarding, for example.

  • Sports travel insurance: As with winter sports travel, this package covers most sporting-driven injuries. 

  • Backpacker travel insurance: Covering most sports, lost valuables and injuries, this type of policy is for travellers looking to see the world. 

  • Family travel insurance: A family policy typically covers one or two adults at the same address, and one child who lives with them. Some packages may offer coverage for more children. It’s important that families protect themselves with the right insurance, so be thorough on the specifics of the policy.

  • Group travel insurance: Effectively the same as a single trip insurance deal, group travel insurance covers a group’s journey. Some age exclusions may apply. 

  • Over-65s travel insurance: Over 65s can find it harder to get covered, so this insurance deal does exactly that.  

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Do you need travel insurance before booking a holiday? 

There’s no obligation to buy travel insurance before booking a holiday, but there is a strong case for protecting yourself against unforeseen circumstances.

Even taking out a simple travel insurance policy will protect you in case your flights are cancelled, you can’t go or have to return early due to COVID-19.

So, while there is no legal obligation, having an insurance policy will certainly help protect you and your money

Do I need special travel insurance when pregnant?  

If you’re travelling while pregnant, you might decide to take out an insurance policy that covers your pregnancy.

While most standard offerings won’t ask about a pregnancy and don’t treat it as a medical condition, most policies will likely only protect you in case of complications with your birth, not with routine births or treatment. 

Some policies might also offer protection up to a certain time of your pregnancy.

What happens if you don’t declare medical conditions for travel insurance? 

You need to declare any pre-existing medical conditions before applying for travel insurance, as some conditions will exempt you from being eligible for coverage.

If you have high cholesterol, cancer, have had a heart attack or a stroke, or even if you have asthma, you must declare it. 

Failure to declare any medical conditions will disqualify you from any coverage. You would be forced to pay for any costs incurred yourself. 

Where can you buy travel insurance from? 

There are a wide range of insurance lenders that can offer an insurance deal that suits your needs.

You should shop around on comparison websites or consult a financial adviser or broker and research the policies that suit you.

Remember that different lenders will offer protection against different things and these won’t always carry between lenders.

Be thorough and clear on what each insurance policy offers to you. 

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Kate Morgan
Kate has written for leading publications and blue chip companies over the last 20 years.