08 May How To Organise Your Travel Insurance
By James Fisher
Buying travel insurance before jetting off for a much-needed break can end up as an expense dismissed in favour of saving money. Understandably, it’s an exciting time. Your mind is focused on sunshine and piña colada’s rather than anything going wrong. But, unfortunately, life doesn’t always go to plan. That could mean anything from losing your bags at the airport to being involved in an accident. And everything in between. In this blog, we will discuss why it’s always better to be insured to travel.
Do you really need travel insurance?
In a nutshell, yes. I won’t make you read through pages of information just to leave you hanging. When it comes down to it, you’re essentially weighing up your money against the worst-case scenario. We’re all eternal optimists here at Women + Waves, but at the same time, we have to be realists. We’ve been on enough surf trips and personal holidays to know that it’s always best to be prepared.
The main reasons for buying travel insurance are as follows:
- You want to cover yourself (any injuries or accidents you may suffer while on holiday)
- You want to cover your personal belongings (any misplaced bags or broken surfboards)
- You want to cover any holiday cancellations (Natural disasters like floods or global pandemics that can affect holiday travel)
Certainly, as citizens of the UK we don’t often think about the price of medical bills. But in other countries where healthcare isn’t freely available, this is definitely something to take into consideration. Serious hospital visits can end up costing thousands of pounds in some countries. A bill that you will be responsible for if you haven’t got the insurance to cover it. Likewise, any lost or stolen personal belongings would have to be replaced at your own cost.
We now have an extra reason to book travel insurance before jetting off on our holidays. Many companies have adapted their policies to suit the situation but the rules and regulations can still leave many people confused.
Generally, if the airline you booked with has cancelled your flights, they should refund your money. The start of the pandemic saw millions of flights being cancelled as the world slowly closed down and it proved to be a fairly laborious task to get any money back. Thankfully, as many countries came to terms with the effects of coronavirus, things are moving slightly quicker.
The best thing you can do is know your rights when it comes to Covid-related cancellations. Ask your airline operator what kind of refund they offer and speak to your insurance providers to see what coronavirus cover they have in place. You can find all the latest information on MSE’s Coronavirus Travel Rights page.
Top-rated travel insurance
Recommending a particular insurance provider is somewhat of a legal minefield. So we’ll steer clear of that. We can, however, tell you the best things to look for when deciding which cover is right for you. Be aware of the following points:
- Make sure the insurance policy is specific to your needs. In this particular instance, a surfing holiday. Choosing a provider that includes surfing in its activities section is a logical approach to your decision. Different levels of cover will include different activities so it’s always good to check the small print of the policy. Generally, surfing will be included in all basic policies as it’s classed as a relatively low-risk sport.
- Recognise the excess and payout limits. Travel insurance is similar to car or home insurance. You’re liable for a certain amount of excess which is deducted from any payout the insurance company makes. Medical bills will typically cover you up to a few million pounds. But how much cover you need for baggage, cancellation and loss of cash etc will need to suit you as an individual. Also, make sure you’re aware and happy with the cost of excess.
- Weigh up different levels of cover. It may work out cheaper to buy an annual policy if you know you’ll be going away again within 12 months. This can provide peace of mind and save you time before your next holiday. Get single-trip quotes for each holiday and compare them against the price of the whole year.
- Which countries are covered. If you decide to buy an annual multi-trip policy, you need to be aware that not all countries are covered equally. Different parts of the world are grouped together depending on how far you’re likely to travel. These are typically split into three categories: Europe, Worldwide (excluding USA, Canada and the Caribbean), and Worldwide without exclusions.
- Think about natural disaster cover. This seems excessive but it’s a very real decision to include in your cover. Some insurers will opt out of reimbursing customers if it’s deemed to be a natural disaster. Not all of them though, so it’s important to check the small print. Recent years have seen tsunamis, volcanoes and global pandemics lead to holidays being cancelled. Unfortunately, this has left some people unable to claim back the cost of their holidays.
- Check with your bank. Lots of bank accounts that have monthly fees will offer all sorts of extras. Phone insurance, breakdown cover and most importantly – travel insurance. Check with your bank to see if you could save money on your travel cover.
This all seems like a lot to think about, but we promise you it won’t cause as many headaches as you think. Most insurers cover most things as standard. It’s just good practice to double-check the facts before you buy. Martin Lewis has an excellent section on his website regarding all things travel insurance which can be found here. They only list insurers who meet certain minimum requirements, allowing you to filter out any companies that may be worth considering.
Holiday in your own country
There are a few of our surf trips that might mean you don’t have to leave your own country at all. In terms of medical insurance, that’s great. If for example you are based in the USA and you are joining our California trip we just ask to see a copy of your private health insurance. If you’re based in the UK or Ireland and your joining one of our events in either country then you will be entitled to the NHS or HSE. However, we would definitely still recommend buying travel insurance to cover anything else that could potentially leave you out of pocket. These are the things that we mentioned before such as holiday cancellations, lost luggage, damaged personal equipment etc.
While I’m writing on the subject of travel insurance, it would be remiss of me to leave out my own personal involvement with this topic. A year or so ago, I had the awesome experience of backpacking around South-East Asia. Like most people, I bounced back and forth deciding if the extra cost of travel insurance was going to be worth it. Especially as the annual cost of backpacking insurance could potentially be a week’s travel and accommodation in Asia. A few months into the trip I found myself at a medical centre in Thailand having been involved in a scooter crash. I needed surgery, stitches and prescription medication.
Long story short, I recovered fine in the end and I’m so thankful I decided to buy travel insurance online before we left. The point is that you can be as careful as you wish, as I was, but the actions of others can sometimes be to your detriment.
Travel insurance online
We can’t tell you who to buy your insurance from, and we wouldn’t want to either. But we can point you in the right direction of the best-reviewed travel insurance companies out there. The top 5 according to Bought By Many are as follows. Check out their website for the full list.
I hope this provides some food for thought when it comes to considering if travel insurance is just an optional extra. For the price of a few takeaway coffees, you have the potential to avoid a large emotional and financial headache. And you can enjoy your holiday that little bit more.
We look forward to enjoying a surf holiday of a lifetime with you soon!