When holidaymaker Michael Doyle contracted blood poisoning in Bulgaria in July, his family attempted to arrange a medical flight to bring him back to the UK. But his travel insurers refused to pay for the flight or medical bills, saying that his policy didn't cover him – and three weeks later, Doyle died from kidney failure.
Another significant change has been the introduction of new, lower age limits, so that whereas most premiums used to be available to under-65s, now you often find that they rise when you reach 45 or 50. Limitations on family policies have also tightened: it used to be easy to find a policy that would cover dependent children at college or university up to the age of 23; they are often restricted to children under
Here is our comprehensive guide to buying travel insurance – and ensuring it covers all of your travel plans.
A step-by-step guide to buying travel insurance
How do you find the best-value travel insurance policy? Easy, you might think. Just go to a price-comparison website and buy the cheapest. But there is a catch. Price-comparison sites seem to be having an interesting effect. Because they are so powerful and used by so many people, there is intense competition among companies to keep the price of their products and services as low as possible to try to ensure that they appear near the top of the results.
Another point to bear in mind about insurance is that travellers have different needs, depending not only on their age, but also on the value of their luggage, the type of travelling they do (there are endless exclusions and limitations relating to outdoor activities), how often they like to travel, how risk-averse they are and so on. In the case of skiers and snowboarders, there are other things to think about.
Time your stay
Multi-trip policies cover all the travelling you do in a calendar year, with limits on the length of each trip. Whether it is cheaper to buy one of these than separate policies for each trip depends how much travelling you do in a year – three or four trips will usually mean you save with multi-trip cover. The other huge advantage of a multi-trip policy is that you are covered continuously and don’t have to shop for a new policy each time you book. I chose worldwide cover including the United States and Canada. Europe only, or worldwide without North America would have been cheaper.
It is cheaper to buy cover for a couple, or a family, under one policy. I was covering two adults, one child aged 17 and one aged 18 and away at university, and I wanted a policy that enabled each of us to travel independently. These are much harder to find than they used to be, but I managed to find one.
Look for last-minute deals
For the policy I bought, I have listed below the limits for the key parts of the cover, all per person and with an excess ranging from nil to £75. I would have been happy with medical cover of less than half this – the highest claim ever recorded was only $2 million – but many policies attach much higher limits, apparently for show rather than out of necessity.