James Walker: Travel insurance vital amid Brexit uncertainty

You can still get travel insurance even if you take part in dangerous sports. Picture: Getty
You can still get travel insurance even if you take part in dangerous sports. Picture: Getty
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With Brexit all over the place, UK citizens are faced with the situation where some holidays are on sale at rock-bottom prices because people are reluctant to book a break due to concerns about the political upheaval.

As and when things become clearer, we’ll be giving you the best advice we can on your rights and what to watch out for. However, if you’ve decided to just go for it and get away, it’s important to get a good travel insurance policy.

Here’s my ultimate guide to the things you need to know.

◆ There are two types of policy. When you take out travel insurance, there’s a huge variety of choices but most boil down to single trip or annual travel policies. Single trip insurance does just what it says on the tin. It’s cheap and cheerful and often sold alongside packages or at airports. Annual policies are worth it if you’re taking a few holidays in a year and it’s useful if you want to take advantage of those last-minute bargains, knowing you’ll be covered. It’s better for long-haul trips too and the cover can be more extensive.

◆ Make sure you’ve got cancellation cover. If something unexpected happens in the run-up to the holiday then cancellation cover will pay out a sum towards the costs of not being able to travel. Cheap policies can exclude this completely, so never assume you’re covered. Cancellation cover isn’t for every eventuality. It only covers things happening to you or immediate family, for example. And if you’ve splashed out on a megabucks trip, make sure you know what the maximum payout will be. T&Cs alert! If you’ve got a medical condition that might affect your ability to travel, you’ll need to disclose this. If you don’t, then your claim might get turned down.

◆ There’s a ton of terms and conditions. Some travel insurance policies can read like War And Peace. We’ve seen ones pushing 140 pages. This is excessive, but then travel insurance covers you for many more scenarios than other insurance policies might. Regardless, you should get a “key facts” booklet that tells you the most important things, like excess levels and how to claim. T&Cs alert! If a clause in the contract is “significant” it should be in the key facts document. If your insurer turns down a claim and you don’t think it’s fair, Resolver can help you make a claim – and the financial ombudsman upholds loads of disputes over dodgy clauses every year.

◆ Always check the excess fees and the level of cover. In terms of the amount you should be covered for, I’d suggest policies that cover you for at least £2 million for medical expenses/repatriation, £2,000-3,000 for cancellation, £1,500 for lost or damaged luggage and £1 million for personal liability (in case you get sued for damage you cause to you, property or other people by accident). You’ll find that cover for things like travel cash is low, so keep your money safe. The excess fee is what the insurers knock off your claim as a charge. The lower the excess the higher the premium. You can sometimes tailor this too.

◆ Don’t give up if you’re high risk, for instance because of health issues or taking part in dangerous sports. There are brokers, charities and specialist insurers who can help you find cover. Get in touch if you need details of who to contact for free.

James Walker is the founder of online complaint-resolution service Resolver.co.uk