Top 10 Travel Insurance Myths

A pair of flip flops sticking out of the sand on a beach.
3rd March 2015 0

It’s easy to get caught up in misconceptions when it comes to purchasing travel insurance. But the more you know, the better your chances of getting the right cover for your needs.

Before you buy, let’s bust ten of the most common myths:


1. There’s no need for travel insurance if I’m just travelling in the UK

A poll carried out by the travel association, ABTA, revealed that a staggering 55% of travellers thought they didn’t need insurance when travelling within the UK. In fact, travel insurance, even for a holiday in the UK, is well worthwhile for several reasons: luggage and other belongings can still go astray on internal flights and other forms of public transport in the UK. Also, illness or other unavoidable circumstances can sometimes stop us from going ahead with plans, meaning we might have to cancel or interrupt a holiday at the last moment. With the right travel insurance in place, you’ll be covered for the unexpected, which can often prove costly, even when you’re travelling in the UK.


2. I don’t need travel insurance if I have the European Health Insurance Card

This free card is valid only in EEA countries, Switzerland and other countries with reciprocal health agreements with the UK, and it covers medical treatment only – this is where the cover ends.

If you travel with an EHIC only, bear in mind that the medical care you get is the same as that provided for residents of the country you are visiting. But healthcare rules aren’t consistent across Europe; for example, some countries insist on part payment from you for ambulance services while others can only offer even more expensive, non-subsidised services. The same also applies to treatment, which varies in cost and availability so, even with your EHIC in hand, some countries charge a patient contribution. Find out more in the NHS country-by-country guide. Your EHIC will not cover any private medical healthcare costs such as mountain search and rescue services.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office quotes thousands of pounds for air ambulances to repatriate you to the UK from various foreign destinations – proof enough that additional travel insurance is well worth taking out. What’s more, travel insurance also covers you for lost or stolen baggage, passports and other items, as well as financial losses if you have to unexpectedly cancel or cut short a pre-paid trip. They can also pay for new flights home plus extra accommodation you may need if you have to stay on longer due to being in hospital.


3. I’m covered no matter what

Just because you’ve bought travel insurance, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re covered for medical emergencies in all situations. Although you’re covered for most holiday activities, some are considered by insurers as higher risk than others and may not be covered. It’s well worth finding out whether your chosen activities are covered before taking out a policy. For example, trekking at above 2,000 metres is often not covered and neither is scuba diving without a qualified dive-buddy.

Other activities, such as camel or elephant riding, water skiing or jet skiing might be covered if you need emergency medical treatment. But bear in mind that while medical treatment may be covered, you may not be insured for personal liability, so if you accidentally harm other people or equipment while on your camel ride, you may not be covered.

Bear in mind too that if you are found to be under the influence of alcohol; travelling against FCO advice; or you didn’t get the recommended vaccinations for your trip, you might also be disappointed to find you aren’t covered if you need to make a claim.


4. I am too old and too ill to get travel insurance

While this is sometimes true for certain types of cover (for example, winter sports cover), most good insurers are happy to consider you at absolutely any age, even if you have pre-existing medical conditions.


5. Travel insurance will get me treated in the private care of my choice

Many people confuse travel insurance with private medical insurance. Unlike private medical insurance, most travel insurers provide you with emergency treatment in the state-run facilities of major hospitals around the world.  Failing that, if there are no state facilities in the area, if necessary they will consider covering your treatment privately, but this is a pretty rare occurrence.

If you need help with making the right arrangements for your emergency treatment, insurers generally have a dedicated claims helpline. So, on the end of a phone line you’ll have experienced multi-lingual staff to help you out, liaising with doctors and advising you or a travelling companion on what steps to take.


Camping in Monument Valley


6. There’s no need to declare all my pre-existing medical conditions

Not a great idea if you have pre-existing medical conditions. If you don’t declare the true state of your health plus your medical history at the time you take out your policy, you’ll probably bring down the cost of your premium but you’ll also bring down your cover. In fact, by not declaring all your pre-existing medical conditions, your policy may be rendered invalid and any claim you make may well be denied.

Be aware also that once you go on holiday, it’s too late to amend your policy or take out a new one.


7. The further away you travel, the more expensive your policy

Another common misconception. The price of travel insurance is not always related to how near or how far you travel; however, choosing your destination wisely could indeed save you money.

One of the factors that does influence your premium is the cost of medical treatment for British nationals in the country you are visiting. Even within Europe, this can vary greatly; for example, treatment in Spain is likely to cost far more than treatment in Greece or Italy.


8. Travel insurance shouldn’t cost more than my actual holiday

There is no relationship between the price of your travel insurance policy and how much you pay for your holiday.

In some cases, the policy may indeed be more expensive than the holiday itself. This is because the costs of medical treatment and repatriation can soon add up, particularly if you have pre-existing medical conditions in countries where care and services are expensive.

When you get a quote, the following factors are generally taken into account:

  • Activities
  • Age
  • Cost of medical procedures
  • Destination
  • Frequency of travel
  • Medical treatment in the countries you are visiting
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Previous claims within industry
  • Repatriation costs
  • Trip duration

If your holiday is turning out to be a particularly expensive one, some policies enable you to add a higher level of Cancellation cover to suit your needs.


9. Cheapest is best

While price is of course important when buying travel insurance, it shouldn’t be the main consideration.  As with most things, you normally get what you pay for and it’s vital to ensure you have the right level of cover to suit your particular holiday and health needs. Our 10 tips for buying travel insurance should help when you are shopping for the right policy.


10. All travel insurance is the same

Not so. There are probably as many different travel insurance policies on the market as there are holidays to enjoy. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate your holiday and medical needs before you go ahead and buy any policy.

Don’t be tempted to use price alone as your guide. If one policy is far less costly than another, it’s likely to be because the cover you get isn’t exactly the same. What’s more, the standard cover you get from different policies will vary as much as any additional cover options you might choose to add to your policy.

Ask the insurers or check the small print yourself to find out the cover limits and exactly what the exclusions are before you buy – they vary slightly from one underwriter to another and some exclusions may be more important to you than others. To avoid any disappointment, it’s important to know exactly what you are covered for, just in case you need to make a claim.

If you have pre-existing medical conditions or are over a certain age, not all policies will cover you, so make sure you declare your medical conditions and purchase a policy that has you properly protected.


Travel insurance

Talk to TIM and find out how simple getting travel insurance can be. We treat you as an individual, no matter what your age or medical history. We make all the necessary travel insurance comparisons for you to find the perfect policy which not only suits you, it suits your pocket too.

Get an online quote from us today or Talk to TIM free of charge on 0800 054 2252 – we look forward to helping you.

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