Travel Insurance is perhaps the least exciting project of any travel planning, but probably the most important. Travelling with either the wrong insurance cover or without any at all could be extremely costly and in some circumstances life-threatening. For many the best way to ensure you are covered is to take out an annual policy, whilst less frequent travellers might rely on a policy provided by a credit-card or bank. It is always important to check the level of cover as well as WHO is covered by any ‘free’ insurance. It is sod’s laws that the one time you don’t take out travel insurance is the one time you will need it.
|My own experience of making a claim on travel insurance is one that always reminds me to ensure I have the correct cover, with medical and liability being the most important in my book! I was golfing in Canada some years ago on a lush and beautiful course in Whistler; when a stray ball hit me in the eye. Unluckily it was my ball – rebounding off a nearby tree – that did the damage, otherwise I might have been able to claim for a lot more than just medical costs from a fellow golfer. The damage was limited by my spectacles which absorbed much of the impact of the ball and possible saved my eye but a visit to a local hospital was still required for some treatment. I was amazed to be greeted by a demand for a credit card before any treatment would be given. I had a card that covered the cost and I did subsequently get a refund from the insurers.
No doubt it would have been sorted by the insurers had I not had the available funds or had my condition been more serious, but this whole episode would have been potentially far more expensive had I hit someone else with my golf-ball and been hit be a protracted lawsuit.
SO how do you ensure that you are fully covered?
1: Use a reputable insurance company with reliable underwriters. Cheap is invariably not best! Look for VALUE and pay a bit more for a more comprehensive policy.
2: COVER – make sure that there is sufficient medical and liability cover for your intended destination.
The FCO have published some estimated costs on their website for repatriation alone:
£35-45,000 - air ambulance from USA’s East coast
£12-16,000 - air ambulance from the Canary Islands
£15-20,000 - scheduled flight, stretcher and Doctor escort from Australia
*Figures supplied by FirstAssist Services Ltd. at http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/staying-safe/travel-insurance/
3. PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION
Do you have a pre-existing medical condition? It might be tempting to forget about mentioning a minor condition that you have put-up with for the last ten years – but ALWAYS notify the insurer and ensure that you have written confirmation that you will be covered. Even if a claim is unrelated to your condition – this could still be used by the insurance company to wriggle out of responsibility.
Check the policy to ensure you are covered for any sports or activities that you are likely to take part in whilst on your trip. A good policy should cover you for most non-dangerous sports and give you the option to pay a supplement to cover more adventurous activities.
5. CANCELLATION AND CURTAILMENT
A good insurance policy will cover you for cancelling or cutting a trip short in the event of:
An accident; illness, pregnancy (unknown when you buy the policy), jury service or witness summons; home emergency (fire, storm or flood, burglary); redundancy; strikes or bad weather – affects the departure of flights and ships.
6: DURATION OF COVER
Make sure that the policy covers the whole time that you’re away. A 7 day policy will cover you from Saturday to Friday not Saturday to Saturday.
7: SMALL PRINT
Always check the small print of the policy and look for the exclusions because insurance companies love to hide their own personal ‘get out of jail cards’ in the detail.
‘You must not admit any liability!’- easier said than done if you’re faced with an angry mob
NOT COVERED -‘Ownership, possession or use of mechanically propelled vehicles’ – better make sure you have the liability option with your car-hire or moped or snow-mobile etc etc
NOT COVERED - ‘The transmission of any communicable disease or virus’ – don’t sneeze on anyone!
Then there is the vagueness of some of the policy exclusions –
‘Your own unlawful action’ – something as trivial as jaywalking in the states could give your insurer a get-out!
Some insurance companies still exclude terrorism in their cover! Make sure that yours doesn’t
Most policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents – ‘why did the Mexican push his wife off the cliff? – TEQUILA’