Worldwide Travel Insurance: What to Know Before you Buy

worldwide travel insurance

With the rise of budget airlines and cheap accommodation, the world really is within reach for more people every year. What could be more exciting than planning an adventure in far-flung countries and exploring new cultures? Provided that you’ve got the budget, destinations that before were impossible are increasingly becoming accessible to a wider range of people. Adding all your planned destinations to one worldwide travel insurance policy makes sense and will keep you safe wherever you’re going.

Worldwide travel insurance

Statistics from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) state that in 2018 there were 71.7 million visits overseas by UK residents- a decrease of 1% from 2017. People are now jetting off to a greater variety of places. Spain, Italy and the USA top the popularity charts of favourite destinations for holiday-makers from the UK. However, countries such as Thailand, the Philippines and Japan are quickly shooting up this list.

You would assume that worldwide travel insurance would be just that, worldwide. However, some policies exclude certain countries ! You have to be careful to choose the right worldwide cover so that every destination you are visiting is covered during your trip.

When choosing worldwide travel insurance you have a few options: worldwide travel insurance excluding Canada, the USA and the Caribbean, and worldwide travel insurance including Canada, the USA and the Caribbean. Mexico is sometimes on the excluded list too but make sure you check the policy wording or quote to be sure.

Why are they different? Medical care in Canada, the USA and the Caribbean is much more expensive than in other places in the world. So, to make sure you have the right level of medical care, the premiums which include these countries tend to be more expensive. However, the cost is worth it when you consider the difference in the price of medical care. You could be left with a hefty bill if you aren’t covered properly.


What does worldwide travel insurance cover?

Worldwide travel insurance covers the same standard benefits as if you were visiting one destination.. The only difference is for what countries you are covered for. A worldwide policy will be valid in the countries which you have specified when you buy your travel insurance policy. Insurers will usually ask you where you plan to travel on your holiday and adjust your premium accordingly.

As a general rule, the minimum you should make sure that you are covered for includes:

Evacuation and full medical coverage: The main reason for having travel insurance is to have medical coverage while you are abroad. This couldn’t be more important than when you are travelling worldwide in countries which may not have the same standard of medical care that we are used to in the UK.

first aid kit and globe

Lost, stolen or damaged gear or luggage: A worldwide policy should cover your luggage and belongings in case they should sprout legs and leave you while you are on holiday. Whether the airline has lost your bags, or a light-fingered friend has taken a liking to your wallet, your insurance policy should be there to compensate you.

Cancellation or curtailment: Your holiday is an investment and if you are planning a trip to far-flung places you’ll find that the cost soon adds up. What would happen if you weren’t able to go for some unexpected reason? Life is unpredictable and the best way to protect your investment is to have travel insurance that covers cancellation, curtailment and abandonment.

Legal protection: Most worldwide travel insurance policies will cover you for personal liability. So, if you hurt someone else or their property by accident, your insurance will pay for their treatment and your defence in court should they try and sue you.


Worldwide travel insurance exclusions

  • Travel to some countries isn’t covered: Even though your policy is worldwide this does have some exceptions. You won’t be covered if you are travelling to a country where - at the time of buying your policy - there is a war, threat of terrorism, civil disorder or political unrest. As a general rule, if there are travel warning issued by the British Embassy, then a travel insurer probably isn’t going to cover you for that country.
  • Length of your trip: You may be covered around the world but you won’t be covered for just any old length of time. Check your insurance documents carefully to make sure your trip isn’t over the length permitted by your insurer.
  • Annual multi-trip policies will stipulate a maximum number of days each trip can last (e.g. 31 days). Long-stay or backpacker policies will stipulate the maximum length of the entire trip (e.g. 18 months) and you usually cannot go back to the UK in this period.

  • Dangerous activity coverage or exclusion: The range of activities and sports you can do worldwide is almost endless and you definitely won’t be covered for all of them if you have a worldwide travel insurance policy.
  • If you are going on a skiing holiday, trekking, golfing or scuba diving, you will most likely need special coverage for sports. In the majority of cases, these don’t come covered as standard. This is usually simple to arrange and can often be added to your policy as an optional extra.

  • Pre-existing medical conditions: You should always declare pre-existing medical conditions before you purchase a travel insurance policy. Each insurer has different restrictions on which conditions it will cover. Depending on your circumstances, you may have to take out specialist insurance for pre-existing medical conditions. If you don’t declare a pre-existing condition you probably won’t be paid in the event of a claim (even if the claim isn’t related to that condition).

Price comparison of worldwide travel insurance policies

There is no one size fits all worldwide travel insurance and so there is no one size fits all price. Remember, the cost of your policy will differ depending on your age,health and where you’re going.

We have compared prices across a random selection of travel insurance policies to give you an indication of what’s on the market. There are literally hundreds of worldwide travel insurance policies. With so much choice you can be sure that there’s one for you.

We ran some quotes for a 35-year-old travelling to Spain, Iceland, the USA and Canada. We compared a single trip (7 days) against an annual multi-trip policy. We did not declare any pre-existing medical conditions or request any optional extras.

Provider Cost for Single Trip Policy Cost for Annual Policy Standard Benefits Limits
Coverwise (Standard Policy) £9.95 £16.45
  • Medical care: £20 million
  • Baggage: £1,000
  • Cancellation: £1,000
Insure and Go (Light Economy Policy) £13.50 £23.49
  • Medical care: £15 million
  • Baggage: £750
  • Cancellation: £1,000
Cover for You (Emerald Policy) £15.00 £36.50
  • Medical care: £15 million
  • Baggage: £1,250
  • Cancellation: £1,500
Virgin Money (Economy Policy) £15.57 £24.78
  • Medical care: £15 million
  • Baggage: £1,250
  • Cancellation: £1,500
ASDA Money (Economy Plus Policy) £16.98 £35.39
  • Medical care: £10 million
  • Baggage: £850
  • Cancellation: £1,500

Information correct as of October 2019. Always check your quote or policy wording for the most up to date figures.


Travelling around the world: good to know

No matter what type of holiday you have planned, some basic preparation is always wise. If you are visiting multiple countries, research is even more essential! Here are some important factors to consider when planning a trip around the globe:

  1. Drinking Water - We’ve all heard a horror story about someone getting sick from tap water when travelling. If you visit a country with unsafe water, even brushing your teeth with this water puts your health at risk. Before you go, always check whether a country has safe drinking water. Even within a country, water quality can vary from one city to the next. In areas where the water isn’t safe to drink, you should buy bottled water or treat the water yourself (e.g. with chlorine dioxide tablets).
  2. Vaccinations - The UK government recommends visiting TravelHealthPro.co.uk for information before you travel to any country. Countries are listed in alphabetical order and you are presented with clear information about any potential health risks and vaccinations you may need.
  3. Visa - Always check whether or not you need a visa well ahead of your travel date. Some countries can take three months to issue a visa. Claiming ignorance when you get to the airport won’t let you board the plane. The UK has a visa waiver scheme with many countries, but even if this is the case, you will often need to submit an application (online or otherwise). The USA is one such country. This is usually a much quicker process than applying for a visa.

    Even if you are only staying in one place for a short period of time, don’t ever assume that you won’t need a visa or approved visa waiver application to enter a country.

  4. Emergency Services - It’s important to commit the emergency services numbers to memory before you travel. These differ across the world so search online for the relevant countries’ details. Some places have different numbers for the fire brigade, police and ambulance, as opposed to one number covering all services.

Data and information correct as of October 2019.

All material on this page and the selectra.co.uk website is for information purposes only and does not constitute any form of financial advice. Selectra.co.uk is not responsible for any consequences that might arise from your use of the information provided.