Nutty

What to look for in travel insurance

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Fact checked.
Updated
May 19, 2024

In a nutshell

For travel insurance look for all the essentials first, that’s medical cover, cancellation, missed departures and delays cover, lost or stolen luggage, personal items and personal liability cover (legal costs if there’s an accident involving other people). You can then add any extras specific to your holiday, such as cover for skiing.

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Getting away for a nice relaxing holiday? Or maybe a serious business trip. Whatever the reason, travel insurance is essential to protect you, and your things – and here’s what to look for.

What to look for in travel insurance

Here’s a top tip for you straight away, purchase travel insurance as soon as you can after booking your trip, that way you’ll be instantly covered, and you’ll get compensation if anything happens shortly after booking, resulting in your plans changing or the holiday being cancelled.

Let’s run through what’s needed for essential cover, and then additional cover. And then we'll run through how to get the best deal too.

Nuts About Money tip: you might already have travel insurance with your bank account – if you’re paying a monthly fee, it might be included. It’s worth checking beforehand, and if so, what the cover provides.

Do I need travel insurance?

Recommended cover

Here’s what we recommend you need as a basic level of cover on any travel insurance policy (a policy is a fancy word for what you’re covered for).

  • Medical expenses
  • Getting you home
  • Cancellations
  • Missed departures and delays
  • Cover for lost or stolen luggage and personal items
  • Personal liability cover (to cover you if an accident involves someone else or their property)

Recommended additional cover

These won’t always necessarily come as standard on a travel insurance policy, but it’s a great idea to add them:

  • Emergency dental care
  • Cash and cash equivalents (e.g. pre-paid tickets)
  • Lost passport
  • Terrorism (not a joke)

Specialist cover

Depending on what you’re doing on your trip, you might not be covered by most standard travel insurance policies. For example, if you’re doing more specialist things, such as skiing, or even playing golf, you’ll often need extra travel insurance cover. Here's the most popular types of specialist cover:

  • Winter sports cover
  • Extreme sports cover
  • Adventure sports cover
  • And more cover, specific to your holiday

If you're looking to learn even more about travel insurance, here's what travel insurance covers, and what travel insurance does NOT cover. We'll cover the key areas of what to look for in cover below too.

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Head over to Confused.com to find the best deal for you. They search almost every deal out there.

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Medical expenses cover

This is super important to get – medical care is not free outside of the UK, and very expensive. 

Breaking your leg from a fall can cost around £15,000 in medical bills, and long hospital stays can be well over £100,000. And if you need emergency assistance such as an air ambulance, the figures can be eye watering.

Medical cover

Getting medical-cover should be top of your list, and we recommend getting cover for around £5 million. The good news is most travel insurance will be around this level as standard.

Note: you might also have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which is the new card following Brexit – these are free and are great for covering some medical costs if you need emergency medical treatment, but won’t cover everything – you’ll still need travel insurance.

Pre-existing medical conditions

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, and don’t share it with your insurance provider (the insurance company) beforehand, any medical care you need as a result of them won’t be covered.

Pre-existing medical condition

Nuts About Money: it’s always best to be honest when getting insurance, otherwise when you need it most, the insurance company might not pay out.

Getting you home

Accidents happen (a lot), and this can mean spending much longer on your trip than expected (for instance if you’re in a hospital), or even shorter, if you need to fly home immediately after an accident. So, you’ll want travel insurance that covers getting you home too.

Plus, you might need special arrangements to fly, and you can sometimes have a friend or family member come and stay and fly back with you.

This is typically standard as part of all travel insurance policies, but check just to make sure.

Cancellations

Cancellations happen (a lot) too. And if they’re out of your control, ideally you don’t want to be left with a substantial holiday bill and not being able to go on it!

Trip cancellation cover

Travel insurance can cover cancellations and provide compensation for the cost of the whole trip – or up to a level specified in the policy, which you can normally set. We recommend setting this amount to around £5,000, or higher if your trip is costing you more.

Trips are often cancelled for various reasons, but the main cancellations reasons that insurance covers are:

  • Any injury or illness which means you can’t travel (including that of a close family member)
  • The loss of a close family member
  • Jury service, or attending court as a witness
  • Redundancy (losing your job)

Note: this bit is super important. If you have a pre-existing medical condition and don’t share it with the insurance provider beforehand, they won’t cover you if you later need to cancel due to it.

Missed departures and delays

You also want to be covered for any missed departures and delays out of your control – as this can mean you could miss a large part of your trip, or the whole trip in some cases.

If a flight is delayed or cancelled, it’s normally the airline who will rearrange a flight or refund you the cost. However, it can have implications for your hotel or trip, which can then be covered by the travel insurance provider – and if it’s over 24 hours and the airline still hasn’t done anything, the travel insurance company can step in.

This is typically part of the 'cancellation cover' of the travel insurance, again, we recommend at least £5,000, or the total cost of your trip if higher.

Lost luggage

Unfortunately, luggage does go missing – either in the airport after you check-in (how annoying), or in your hotel afterwards (still annoying). Losing all of your luggage at the airport can be pretty devastating for your trip, but you can feel some reassurance that you’ll likely get it back (sent to your hotel from the airline), or if it’s completely lost or stolen, your travel insurance will cover it and you’ll get compensation.

We recommend getting cover in place, and it’s normally covered as standard on most travel insurance policies – although up to a certain limit, so look out for this and adjust it to match the total value of your stuff. We recommend around £5,000 if you’re not sure, if not higher!

Personal items

Aside from your luggage going missing, your personal belongings can go missing or stolen while you’re on your trip – and even hotel rooms broken into. It’s a very good idea to get cover for all your items, including clothing and gadgets.

However, you still have to take care of your items. You won’t be covered if they’re left unattended (such as by the sun lounger while you’re in the sea).

Your passport

Personal items cover can also include your passport, or with some insurers it’s a specific add-on. Either way, we highly recommended getting this – so you’ll be compensated for the cost of replacing it.

Passport cover

Personal liability cover

Personal liability cover can save you a small fortune. This is cover if you have an accident and someone else is injured or their property is damaged (e.g. your hotel), and they try to claim compensation from you. 

Legal costs can get very expensive, but your travel insurance company can handle everything. On some policies you can even get cover if you are the one injured and want to claim compensation from somebody else.

We recommend getting at least £1 million in cover, if not more – it might sound like a lot but costs can really add up if things go down the legal route.

The excess

You’ll also want to look at the excess as part of a travel insurance policy. The excess is what you’ll have to pay if you ever make a claim (a claim is asking the insurance company to pay a bill, or compensate you if there’s been an incident).

Travel insurance excess

Insurance companies put an excess in place to deter fraud and to stop people claiming low amounts.

Normally, the excess is around £150-200, and you can change this, either up or down if you want to, and this will change how much the insurance is (your premium), with a higher excess meaning a lower premium, and vice versa.

Excess amount

How to get the best deal on travel insurance

As you can see, travel insurance is super important, but that doesn’t mean finding the right cover and the best deal has to be complicated – in fact, it’s super easy.

To find the best deal, all you need to do is first, determine the level of cover you want, for instance, just the essentials, or do you need specialist cover for a skiing trip or sports event.

After that, head over to a comparison site, we recommend Confused.com¹, and have listed all the best comparison sites below.

Fill out a few details about yourself, the trip you’re going on, and they’ll get to work comparing all the travel insurance deals out there that suit you, and come back with a list of all the best ones (it only takes a few seconds). After that, check over the details, and pick the best one for you (normally the cheapest from the shortlist).

Then click through to the insurance company’s site, where all your details should be pre-filled, have another check over, then simply buy. You’ll normally be covered instantly.

How to get travel insurance

After that, you should get an email with all your documents (the travel insurance policy), and sometimes an online account set up for you with all your details. We recommend printing off your documents, or saving them to your phone – so you’ll have a copy just in case you need them when you're on your trip.

It’s as simple as that, and can only take 10 minutes. If you're still a bit unsure, here's our in-depth guide on how to get travel insurance.

Best travel insurance comparison sites

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Best overall

Confused.com

This normally has the cheapest travel insurance quote for most people.

Confused.com will compare up to 40 travel insurance companies (and all the largest companies).

They'll cover all the main types of insurance (e.g. pre-existing medical conditions, winter sports etc).

You can get a quote in just a few minutes too.

Learn more

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Meerkat Meals

Compare The Market

comparethemarket.com will search 42 travel insurance companies to find you the right deal.

They'll cover all the main types of insurance (e.g. pre-existing medical conditions, winter sports etc.)

Learn more

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Quick quote

MoneySuperMarket

MoneySuperMarket compares 35 travel insurance companies to find a great deal for you.

They'll cover all the main types of insurance (e.g. pre-existing medical conditions, winter sports etc.)

Learn more

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Get a quick insurance quote

Head over to Confused.com to find the best deal for you. They search almost every deal out there.

Visit Confused.com¹Visit Confused.com¹

How to claim

Just in case you ever need to claim, here’s a quick overview. Hopefully, you’ve taken your documents with you on your travels (or saved to your phone), this will have an emergency contact number.

So, all you need to do if you have an accident or there’s an incident, is call the number, explain the situation, and they’ll take it from there and let you know what to do.

If it’s not an emergency, you can also wait until you get home if you like, but it’s best to call as soon as you can when you get back home, as there’s normally a time limit!

Let’s recap

And that's what to look for in travel insurance.

Travel insurance

We hope that’s made everything a bit clearer. As a recap, make sure your insurance has at least all the essentials which are:

  • Medical bills
  • Getting you home
  • Holiday cancellation
  • Missed departures and delays
  • Lost luggage and personal belongings
  • Damage to property or injury to someone else (personal liability cover)

We recommend adding on extra cover such as emergency dental care, and lost passport cover, if not already included. And if you’re going to be doing more specialist things like skiing, you’ll need specialist cover too.

To find the best quote for you, head over to Confused.com¹ – they’ll compare deals from all the best insurers to find you the cover you need for the lowest price, and it only takes around 10 minutes too. After that, you’ll normally be insured straight away.

And that’s it. Enjoy the trip!

No items found.

Get a quick insurance quote

Head over to Confused.com to find the best deal for you. They search almost every deal out there.

Visit Confused.com¹Visit Confused.com¹
No items found.

Get a quick insurance quote

Head over to Confused.com to find the best deal for you. They search almost every deal out there.

Visit Confused.com¹Visit Confused.com¹
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This article was written, reviewed and fact checked by the expert team at Nuts About Money. You’re in safe hands. Learn more.

Get a quick insurance quote

Head over to Confused.com to find the best deal for you. They search almost every deal out there.

Visit Confused.com¹Visit Confused.com¹

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