Common travel insurance exclusions
As soon as you've booked flights or a holiday, a travel insurance policy should be next on your shopping list. Don't simply opt for the cheapest policy without reading the small print, however, or you could find it doesn't cover you for everything you need.
There are many different policy types, ranging from cheap travel insurance offering a low level of cover for bog standard holidays, to specialist travel insurance for extended backpacking trips, winter sports holidays, or other specialist breaks.
Basic cover checklist
Make sure that your travel insurance policy covers you for your entire trip, and for:
- Lost and stolen possessions (with maximum claims limits that will cover the value of possessions you'll be taking with you)
- Medical and health cover – in case you're injured or get sick during your trip
- 24-hour emergency service and assistance (with a helpline number for emergencies)
- Personal liability cover, in case you are sued for causing injury or damaging property
- Cancellation/curtailment of your trip
Find out what is excluded from the policy before you buy it. Common exclusions include:
- Drink or drug-related incidents: If you're "under the influence" when something happens, you may not be covered by your insurance.
- Terrorism: Historically, most travel insurance policies excluded terrorism, but nowadays the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office says about 60% of policies offer cover. Since terrorism can occur practically anywhere in the world, make sure your policy offers cover.
- Lack of reasonable care: Policies won't cover you for lost or stolen possessions unless you take reasonable care of them.
Other exclusions to look out for
In addition to the basic exclusions above, there are a number of others to look out for:
- Activities: Some activities such as jet skiing, bungee-jumping, skiing and snowboarding are excluded from standard policies. Check the exclusions carefully and take out extra cover if necessary.
- Pre-Existing Medical Conditions: You must inform your insurance provider of pre-existing medical conditions before you travel. If you don't, and you later make a claim, the underwriters could ask for a copy of your medical records. If you've withheld information they deem relevant to the claim, it could be rejected. Many companies will offer cover if you have an existing medical condition, but it could push up the premium.
- Danger zones and security issues: Predictably, insurance companies regard travel to 'danger zones' as high risk. If the Foreign Office is advising against travel to a country, whether due to disease or unrest, you may not be covered by your insurance there. If your destination is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes or tornadoes, check your policy for 'Act of God’ clauses.
- Specialist types of travel: Cruises are often not covered by standard policies. If you’re flying, you may want to find a policy that gives you protection if your flight is delayed or cancelled.
Travel insurance buying tips
Shop around to find the right product for the type of trip you're taking, at the best price. Cheaper policies are often cheap for a reason, and it could prove false economy to purchase a low cost policy if it doesn't provide the level of cover you need. If you're planning several trips within 12 months, you could save time and money by purchasing an annual multi-trip insurance policy.