Cover levels may seem like tricky business, but all they mean is the amount you’ll be covered for if you do need to make a claim. So, what’s the difference between cover levels? Well, most policies will have a few different ones to choose from and are normally labelled as ‘classic’ and ‘premier’ or ‘bronze’ ‘silver’ and ‘gold.’ As a general rule, you’ll get a higher level of cover with ‘gold’ and ‘premier’ policies. Not all policies will be displayed like this, but it will generally be along these lines.
Choosing A Policy
Regardless of which policy you go with, most standard travel insurance policies will offer cover for things like; personal possessions, cancellation, medical expenses, curtailment (cutting your trip short), repatriation (getting you home) and legal costs etc. The main difference will be on the level of cover you receive. For example, if your airline goes bust before you are due to travel, classic cover may offer you £3,000 per insured person whereas premier cover would offer you £7,500 per insured person. Once again this will vary from insurer to insurer, so, be sure to read your policy wordings carefully before purchase.
So, now we’ve got that part covered, let’s talk about the type of cover you need when you’re planning your trip. Most travel insurance policies will offer the below cover levels:
Single Trip Travel Insurance
Single trip policies will generally cover you for a one-off adventure, and although some specialist policies may provide cover for trips between three days and three months, different insurers’ will offer different levels of cover, so it’s worth checking your policy wording carefully before you purchase.
When buying a single trip policy, you will need to enter the date you leave the UK, and the date you return to the UK to make sure you are covered for your whole trip, along with the geographical area or country you are travelling to.
As soon as you pay your premium, you will then be covered for scenarios which could affect your trip before you even set off, for example, if you need to unexpectedly cancel your trip.
However, make sure you check exactly what cover you are purchasing, and its suitability for your individual needs and expectations, as the cover will vary between policies and providers.
Should your travel plans change, most travel insurance providers would allow you to change the destination, duration and dates of your policy. Some may charge a small administration fee for this, but others will just charge if the new destination is a higher risk, or the duration of the holiday is longer.
Annual/Multi-Trip Travel Insurance
If you plan on going on more than two trips a year, you should look into a multi-trip policy, as this could work out more cost effective than multiple single trip policies for you. An annual travel insurance policy will cover you for all trips taken during a 12-month period – there is no need to contact your travel insurer before each trip, simply purchase your cover and then plan a year of jet setting.
When purchasing your policy, you will be asked to select the geographical area you would like cover for, for example Europe, Europe excluding Spain, worldwide excluding Mexico and USA etc. Beware, should your travel destinations change and you plan to travel to other geographical areas, you will need to speak to your travel insurance provider and get your policy updated.
Again, it is important to make sure the policy you are purchasing meets your needs. As well as looking at the cover offered by the insurance, also check if there is a limit on how long your trips can be (for example you could be covered for unlimited trips, as long as each trip is 31 days or less). Also think about whether you need to add or purchase additional cover, such as winter sports or cruise, as this may not be covered as standard.
Longstay & Backpacker Travel Insurance
Whether you’ve decided to take a gap year or a well-deserved sabbatical, you’ll probably find a long-stay/backpacker travel insurance policy will be best suited to your travelling needs and of course, when you’re travelling for that amount of time, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best level of protection for all those things you hold near and dear (we know how much that brand new iPhone means to you!). Some policies will cover you for any trips you take within 18 months or two years, but it’s always best to check the length of your cover with your insurer by speaking to them directly or by reading the policy wording.
If you’re planning to work during your trip, just make sure you double check that this will be covered under your policy. Most travel insurance policies will cover working abroad such as bar work, but will not cover manual labour (for example lifting or carrying heavy items over 25kg or any activity high at a higher level than two storeys).
If you plan on taking part in any adventure sports or activities, for example bungee jumping or scuba diving, you’ll need to make sure your policy provides cover for it. Some policies may offer cover for sports as standard, but you may need to buy it as an add or extension with others so just make sure you are ticking off the things you need before purchasing a policy.
Will you want to return home to visit for Christmas or Mum’s birthday? You could be entitled to two return trip homes with a Longstay/Backpacker policy without breaking your cover – so check this if it’s part of your plans.
One thing longstay travellers usually find confusing is ‘proof of return home’. Most insurers will accept that you haven’t booked your return flight yet because you’ll do it closer to the time. However, in the event of a claim they may need to see proof that you haven’t emigrated and that you do intend to return to the UK. ‘Proof’ could include a taxed car in your name in the UK, or a rental/mortgage agreement for example. Speak to your insurer if this is something you want to clarify before you leave home.
If you want specific cover for things such as a cruise holiday or sports activities, you could be better off looking for a specifically designed specialist policy or extension which offers the cover you need. Not all insurers will offer specific policies or extensions but you can always speak to them directly for more information.
Cruise Travel Insurance
Going on holiday can sometimes be a nerve-racking experience and it can be the same when it comes to cruises. Which is why, if you are planning to cruise off into the sunset, it’s a good idea to get a policy which covers you for all the risks associated with a cruise holiday that you might not find on a general travel insurance policy.
A cruise extension will come in handy for several reasons, if for example, a strike is announced after you’ve left home and you were unable to make it to the ship on time, depending on your travel insurer, a cruise extension or policy may pay towards the cost of any additional travel and accommodation so you can travel to your cruise ship’s next port of call and aboard the vessel.
The unthinkable has been known to happen before and if you are confined to a cabin because a novel virus is spreading at a vast rate, your cruise extension may pay a set amount for each day you are confined. You may also be entitled to a sum for the cost of pre-paid excursions that you couldn’t go on as a result of cabin confinement. Once again, cover levels will differ from insurer to insurer so make sure you know all the details before you purchase your policy.
We all know the impact storms and severe weather conditions can have, and sometimes they may even be responsible for your ship’s itinerary changing. If this does end up being the case, a good cruise policy will cover you for each scheduled port that you miss as a result. Depending on the policy, you could be entitled to a set amount for each port you miss. Read here to find out more about travel insurance for a cruise holiday.
Winter Sports Travel Insurance
It’s a good idea to look into a specialist travel insurance policy or extension if you’re planning a winter sports holiday. Specialist policies will give you cover that is not usually available on a standard travel insurance policy. There are known risks associated with activities like skiing, snowboarding or sledging to name a few, which means there is a higher chance of sustaining an injury and it’s probably more likely that you’ll have to submit a claim. Equipment can cost a pretty penny and cover for your sports gear may not be available as standard on most travel insurance policies, so it’s worth looking into. You can normally add them to your existing policy as an add-on or extension.