Travel insurance is designed to protect you if something goes wrong with your holiday and you need to cancel.
This can be for lots of different reasons and it is valid from the moment the policy starts, so if you fall ill before you go away you can claim for any money you’ve already paid out.
However, there are a lot of hidden clauses within any travel insurance policy which can catch you out, and leave you out of pocket, if you’re not aware of them.
Bottoms up: Having one glass of wine might invalidate your travel insurance policy
This includes, being covered twice – such as if you have a travel insurance policy with your bank account and you’ve bought a separate one, going on a cruise without the right policy or drinking too much and then trying to make a claim.
Here we’ve listed a few other less common clauses found within travel insurance small print.
1. Having a drink might invalidate your insurance
While on holiday most people will have a few alcoholic drinks, however if something happens to you, such as having an accident or getting injured, and you were under the influence of alcohol this could affect your insurance claim.
Different insurers have different limits for this and most take incidents on a case by case basis.
This is because everyone’s tolerance levels are different and for some a glass or two of wine may not make a difference, while for others this could make a big impact.
Generally, if the alcohol you’ve drunk is affecting your judgement, it could affect your claim – although it’s hard to see how this could be proven in practical terms.
2. If you’re going on a cruise you’ll need specialist cover
As cruise holidays are different to standard holidays, they tend to be longer, include several different countries, and often non-standard water sports, your standard travel insurance might not cover you.
In fact just 56 per cent of single and 59 per cent of annual policies include cover for a cruise trip as standard and if you do get it wrong and end up having to claim – and find out your insurance doesn’t cover you – you could be left severely out of pocket.
The level of protection for cruise trips also varies depending on the insurer and the policy you’ve bought.
For example, some policies include compensation for what’s called ‘cabin confinement’, if you’re too ill to leave your cabin and miss out on one or more days of the cruise. Of the policies available, 54 per cent of single and 45 per cent of annual, provide this as standard, according to Defaqto.
The level of compensation paid out also varies considerably, with some paying out just £10 a day and others up to £200 if you need to claim for missing days of the cruise.
For full details on what to watch out in your cruise insurance see our guide.
3. Some insurers say Egypt and Morocco are part of Europe
Not all insurers include the same countries in their cover and some, such as Allianz, class Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia as part of Europe.
Therefore if you’re visiting one of these countries, you might not need a worldwide policy and a cheaper European policy may cover you.
Always double check – as in some instances Spain is excluded from European insurance – before you buy.
Most travel policies do not cover treatment in private clinics and hospitals
4. You may not be covered if you’re taking to a private hospital
Most travel policies, including those from major providers such as Columbus Direct, the Post Office, Thomas Cook and Insure and Go – do not cover treatment in private clinics and hospitals.
It can be hard to tell if a hospital is private or state-run but if you can, check with your insurer first. Last year insurers warned those travelling to Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Turkey to watch out for hotels automatically sending guests to private resorts when they needed treatment, because they received a referral fee for doing so.
Also remember if you’re going to Europe pack your EHIC as it gives you access to healthcare at the same price a local would pay.
5. If you’re travelling in the UK you may not be covered
If you’ve decided to stay in the UK for your holiday instead of going abroad, don’t assume your travel insurance will automatically cover you.
If you have an annual policy it should cover you for all trips made within the year, while if you’ve bought a specific single trip policy it’ll provide cover during the dates of your trip.
However, things are slightly different in the UK and often people don’t bother to take out insurance because we have a free (at the point of service) health service and usually people can claim for theft on their contents insurance policy.
Other aspects of the holiday, such as cancellation, will only be covered by your travel insurance and therefore if you’re spending a lot, and don’t want to risk losing out, you’ll need a UK policy.
When you buy one watch out for the small print as most insurers only cover you if you’re staying in pre-booked accommodation and some stipulate that your trip must be a certain length, such as three days, and be at least 25 miles away from your home.
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