Buying travel insurance: 5 things to look out for in the small print
March 12th 2017
Buying travel insurance is the least sexy part of travelling, we all know that. It’s one of those necessary evils that adds to our travel costs when most of the time we never use it. That said, when you fall into the situation where you do have to make a claim, you thank your lucky stars you had the foresight to take out insurance just in case.
Going through the process of buying travel insurance can be confusing and full of jargon. You can ignore most of it, but there are a few bits and pieces you’ll want to flag up in the policy documents before buying – here are five of them.
1. Valuables cover
Among the most important material things to cover with your travel insurance are your valuables. Having your expensive laptop or camera stolen or lost abroad is a devastating feeling, one where the edge is taken off ever so slightly if you have those items insured.
Double check what your policy says with regards to valuables. Many have a single item value limit, which means you could only get £100 on your £600 DSLR, which would be heartbreaking. These kinds of policies usually require you to take out extra cover for each of your expensive valuables, stating the serial numbers and value of each. Make sure you have receipts for all of them as you will be required to show proof of purchase when you make a claim.
2. Residency requirements
In the deepest, darkest small print of many travel insurance policies are the residency requirements. Many of them will state you need to have lived in your country of residency for at least six months out of the last year, for example. That number changes from company to company, but whatever the rule it’s one to look out for if you’ve been travelling around a lot in the last year or so.
It’s also common that you need to purchase your plan before you leave your country of residency, otherwise the policy is invalid. There are some companies that allow you to buy while abroad (World Nomads, for instance) but the large majority don’t.
It’s up to you whether you want to risk bending either of these rules, as you could slightly fudge the truth when making a claim. However, it would be much easier for you in the long-run to play it safe and book with a company that fits your circumstances.
No one wants to imagine the worst happening while you’re abroad, but if something terrible did happen you want to make sure your insurance helps your family out afterwards to bring you back home. Double check the repatriation section of the policy when buying travel insurance to make sure it meets your needs. If you’re buying insurance to meet requirements for a visa, some countries actually specify that repatriation cover must be part of your policy, so keep that in mind.
4. Sports cover
If you’re going to be taking part in any sports while abroad, run through your insurance policy to see if you need extra cover. Some activities, usually the more extreme sports like skiing or ski diving, put you more at risk so insurers like to be aware of that before you book with them.
Even hiking at certain altitudes or mountain biking can fall under this category. It’s worth being totally honest with yourself and the company about what you might end up doing so that you don’t get caught out. Adding a few extra quid onto your policy is going to be worth it if anything happens.
5. Trip duration limits
This specifically applies to buying annual travel insurance policies. Many of these deals have a trip duration limit that they strictly enforce, even if you go over it by a matter of hours. If you’re only planning on going on short trips, a few weeks and weekends per year, then it’s no bother, but travellers going longer term should consider taking out individual policies or backpacker deals instead.
Do you have any tips for buying travel insurance?