UPDATE to include Corona Virus info.
Every year, for the past few years, someone with cancer or another similarly serious diagnosis, has contacted me via social media to ask something akin to, ‘I’ve just been diagnosed, I was due to go on holiday in six weeks, but now need chemo. The airline won’t refund my ticket, what are my rights?’
I find these messages both distressing and frustrating. The honest answer is, you usually have no legal rights unless the ticket is flexible. After all if you buy a tennis racket, then break your arm, the racket isn’t faulty. So if you buy an airline ticket, but you can’t go, the airline’s not at fault.
This is exactly what travel insurance is for. Yet many people leave it until the last minute to buy it. This defeats half the purpose of the cover – to protect you in case something stops you going away. So get a policy as soon as you book. And if you’re reading this, and have booked, but have no insurance, you’re financially naked, cover up now!
And that’s not the only travel insurance need-to-know…
Covid-19 Coronavirus Help
The global spread of Covid-19 coronavirus is prompting huge concern and has now been declared a ‘pandemic’. There have now been more than 150,000 cases and sadly over 6,000 deaths around the globe. Overseas travel is already disrupted and that’s likely to get worse, while many are worried about the impact in the UK as well. To help, we’ve been working flat out to answer your questions on travel insurance, cancelling and booking holidays, sick pay and much more.
For all up-to-date info on travel insurance, refunds, travel abroad, getting home and more follow the link to Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert
Can you believe drink and holidays don’t mix!
When it comes to insurance anyway. If you plan to drink on your holiday, do note if something happens when you’re not fully with it, many insurers won’t pay out. And it isn’t just a case of taking care of your health, don’t take valuables out with you if you drink; if they’re nicked (or lost), you’re likely stumped.
Go away two or more times in a year?
Get an annual policy from just £9. In almost every case if you go away two or more times in a year an annual policy is cheaper than single trip. Even if one is just a weekend break. The only exception is if one of those trips needs specialist cover – such as for off-piste skiing.
Who the cheapest insurer is depends on your age, yet prices start at £9 for an individual policy for an 18 year old in Europe; while the cheapest for someone aged 50 travelling worldwide with their family is £39. There’s a wide-range of options, so see my full best-buys at www.mse.me/travelinsurance.
Is your EHIC still valid? Over 5 million are out of date.
European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) issued in the UK will no longer feature the European symbol. But don’t worry, they will still be accepted in participating countries until at least the end of 2020.
EHICs are free and give Brits access to free or discounted medical care in all EU countries, plus some others. And even though the UK left the EU on 31 January 2020, you can still use your existing EHIC for now, and order new or replacement EHICs as usual.
The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has now announced that new and replacement EHICs issued from 1 February 2020 won’t feature the European mark – a symbol consisting of the holder’s country surrounded by EU stars, as pictured above. Instead, the new cards will simply be marked ‘UK’, without the EU symbol.
But the NHSBSA has reassured travellers that the change in design won’t have any effect on how the EHIC actually works. You’ll still be able to use the cards until at least 31 December 2020 – and if you have an EHIC with the old design, you can carry on using it until then, as long as it hasn’t expired.
Worldwide family travel insurance, breakdown cover and family mobile phone cover for £120/yr.
The www.nationwide.co.uk Flexplus bank account costs £10 a month (set to increase to £13 in September with some changes), yet account holders get worldwide family travel insurance for those up to age 74, European breakdown and mobile phone insurance for the whole family. The cover levels are good too – separately this could cost £600/year. So providing you’d be buying this cover anyway, this can be a bargain.
Over 65s cheap cover is possible.
Prices rise heavily as you get older. Though cheap annual policies are still possible especially if you’re under 75, I’ve put a full list at www.mse.me/over65travel.
The Nationwide Flexplus account above is also worth considering, and if you’re over 75 (with no major pre-existing conditions) you can pay an extra £50 and still be covered by it.
Had past medical problems? Trial and error helps.
If you’ve had past medical problems, regardless of age, it can be a major barrier to getting cover. The real key here is to try a lot of different specialist insurers and hope one has underwriters that see you as a lower risk. I’d start with the two specialist comparison sites www.medicaltravelcompared.co.uk and www.allcleartravel.co.uk, then add in some they miss like www.miatravelinsurance.co.uk, www.staysure.co.uk and www.insurancewith.com.
I got a tweet from someone recently who went through this list and managed to cut their initial quote from an unaffordable £2,000, to just a horrid £450.
An annual policy usually covers you for holidays even after it’s finished.
I’m often asked something akin to: “My annual travel insurance policy runs out in October, but I’ve booked to go away for Christmas – am I covered?” Well if something happens before October that means you can’t go at Christmas, yes you’re covered – but you’ll need a new policy to start the day after the current one ends to be covered after that.
Sometimes Europe isn’t Europe.
European cover is generally defined geographically, and not just for the EU. Yet quite a number of insurers also include Turkey and the North African Mediterranean coast – so Morocco, Egypt and Tunisia. It’s worth checking. And bizarrely a very small number DON’T include Spain, so check.