One of Rudyard Kiplings’ famous works opens "I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who."
While poetry might not be on everyone's holiday reading list, Kipling's words do serve as good advice for making sure your travel insurance truly meets your needs.
Make sure you find out exactly what is covered by your policy. Most insurers will cover costs related to medical treatment, but other key factors such as the effects of delays, having to cancel a trip, or being robbed abroad can vary immensely. Check also to make sure there aren't any exclusions that could affect your trip. Seemingly harmless activities may be counted as dangerous sports and exempt from cover, while some insurers will not cover you for anything that happens while you are drunk.
Ask yourself why you are choosing a travel insurance provider. If your answer is that its the cheapest or most convenient policy, you might want to think again. Just getting the cheapest policy could be the ultimate in false economies if it doesn't offer the full protection you need. And taking up the policy offered by your airline or travel agent may save time and effort now, but could cost you anything from a little money on premiums to a fortune in payouts.
Check carefully to make sure your policy runs long enough, bearing in mind that dates are usually based on midnight British time. Don't be tempted to skimp on costs by, for example, not starting a policy until the next day if you are arriving in the evening. Not only is this tempting fate, but it may invalidate your policy completely.
Find out how you will go about making a claim if necessary. Most insurers will offer a freephone number that you can call from anywhere in the world: make sure you have this in a safe place and that everyone travelling with you knows where it is. Make sure you understand what receipts you will need to keep and whether your insurer will be able to pay for medical treatment directly in the country you are visiting or if you'll need to pay and then claim it back.
With a single trip policy, you'll often state where you are visiting. If not, or if you have a multi-trip policy, check carefully for any excluded countries. Many insurers will automatically void cover for countries that appear on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel warning list, so keep an eye on this. Check your policy to see whether you are covered for any day trips excursions which cross over a national border.
In some cases a policy will specifically state who is covered, by name. With other policies such as family policies, particularly those offered as an employee benefit. For example, a family policy may only cover children that live with the policyholder. This could be significant if the children are at university, or if the parents are separated.
PLEASE NOTE: The guidance published in this article is for information only and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation of any particular travel insurance product or provider. If you are in any doubt please consult an independent insurance adviser. A database of advisers in your area is available at www.unbiased.co.uk
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