Some travel insurance seems astonishingly cheap – but, like most things, you get what you pay for. A low price almost always means low cover limits, high excesses and lots of exclusions. Here is how to obtain good cover at a decent price.
1. Consider a multi-trip policy
These cover all the travelling you do in a calendar year, with limits on the length of each individual trip. Whether it is cheaper to buy one of these than separate policies every time you travel depends how much travelling you do in a year – three or four trips will usually mean you save with multi-trip cover. The other huge advantage of a multi-trip policy is that you are covered continuously and don’t have to shop for a new policy each time you book. You can normally chose, in order of cost, between worldwide cover, worldwide without North America, or Europe only.
2. Look for multiple cover
It is normally cheaper to buy cover for a couple, or a family, under one policy – the best annual policies will also allow each of the insured to travel independently.
3. Check the limits
Policy limits for different aspects of cover can be irritatingly out of balance. Insurers are often mean over baggage and cancellation, and set unnecessarily high limits (or no limit at all) for medical cover. My own policy with P J Hayman (see right) has the following cover, though I could have paid more for higher amounts: cancellation (£5,000), emergency medical cover (£10 million), baggage (£2,000), missed departure (£750), personal liability (£2 million). It also has a useful extra – £2,500 cover against the financial failure of an airline or travel company. The excess is £75.
4. Watch for exclusions
All policies should include a list of sports and activities that are automatically covered, and those which need an extra premium to be included. You need to check these through carefully. Some may have exclusions for surprisingly ordinary activities, such as some kinds of trekking, for example. Note that winter sports is now usually an optional extra on multi-trip policies – typically with an extra premium for up to 17 days a year. Look out for restrictions – on off-piste skiing or boarding, or lack of cover for skis left unattended and unsecured, for example.
5. Check for age limits
6. Choose a good provider
I buy my policy from P J Hayman (pjhayman.com) because I think the cover is exceptionally good. Which? (which.co.uk) recommends the following providers: HSBC (hsbc.co.uk), First Direct (firstdirect.com), L V (lv.com/travel-insurance) and M&S Bank (bank.marksandspencer.com).