Faced with such a large number of insurance companies and all the travel insurance policies they offer, comparing travel insurance is the best way to find a policy that is tailored to your needs. In this section, you can find our reviews of insurance companies and comparisons of the travel insurance they offer. Use these as a guide to help you find a provider and a travel insurance policy that suits you and your trips, all for a price that suits you too!
If this is the first time you are looking for travel insurance, comparing policies will help you discover the market, get to know the different policies insurance providers offer, and distinguish between policies offering basic cover from those that offer that little bit more protection (including optional extras).
If you already have travel insurance, our travel insurance comparison guides are also for you. Why? If your situation changes (e.g. you have a new upcoming trip, your annual policy is about to expire...) it will have an impact on the price of your travel insurance: sometimes this impact could mean a cheaper policy!
Comparing travel insurance policies and/or requesting quotes online allows you to compare the current price of your travel insurance to other insurers. This can help you find a cheaper policy and so save money, or maybe just improve your cover for exactly the same price. You never know what offers you might find when you start comparing travel insurance.
Compare travel insurance: what factors should you compare?
There are a multitude of insurance providers that each offer several different travel insurance policies. That’s why comparing travel insurance is really important, but what should you compare? Price? To find a better travel insurance policy that covers you on your travels, simply comparing price is not enough. A top-notch travel insurance policy is not defined by its price but by the benefits and level of cover it includes.
At the same time, not all travel insurance policies will be suitable for you and your trip(s). It is useless, for example, to have travel insurance that includes cruise cover if you aren’t going on a cruise. You’ll just be paying more for the policy. The same principle applies to not having adequate coverage, for example, not including cover for gadgets if you are taking your new iPad. That’s why it is important to choose travel insurance that is tailored to your individual needs: don’t end up being unnecessarily covered for things you don’t need, or conversely, not covered for things you do need.
Your profile and the nature of your travel are essential elements to consider when determining what you need in a travel insurance policy. For instance, a 35-year-old travelling with lots of mod-con gadgets will have different priorities to a 75-year-old with a pre-existing medical condition. Many criteria are taken into account by insurers when designing policies and determining prices. What are they?
The criteria concerning your profile are:
- Your age
- Any pre-existing medical conditions
- Travelling alone, as a couple or group, with your family
The criteria concerning your trip are:
- The destinations you visit
- Length of stay - single trip, annual multi-trip, long-stay
- Deemed high-risk activities you plan on doing (i.e. scuba diving)
- Optional Extras - Winter Sports, Cruise, Golf cover, Wedding, Gadgets
- Level of cover you desire
Insurance companies use these elements to calculate the price of a travel insurance policy, but each insurer weighs each of these factors differently. This means that, for the same price, you can find travel insurance policies with different claim limits, exclusions, excess rates, various optional add-ons and standard cover inclusions.
This is why you should look closely at the exact makeup of a policy that interests you (not just the price). The best way to do this is to use a comparison tool or do the comparisons yourself by requesting quotes online.
Compare travel insurance: the level of cover
As the name suggests, the level of cover refers to the amount of money for which your trip and belongings are insured. Each insurer usually offers two or more levels of cover.
The level of cover depends on the amounts defined in your insurance policy. If, following an incident, you realise the amount you are insured for is insufficient, it will be too late. The amount stated in your policy contract will be the maximum amount that you will be able to claim for. That’s why you need to make sure that the amount you are insured for is realistic and accurately represents the value of your trip and belongings.
Comparing travel insurance lets you identify the different factors that define the amount of insurance you will need.
What is a claim limit? This is simply the maximum amount an insurer will reimburse you in the event of a claim. For example, let’s say that you need to claim for a trip cancellation and your trip is worth £1,000. Your insurance contract states that this cover has a claim limit of £500. This means your provider will pay you a maximum of £500, and you will have to front the rest of the costs yourself.
Each section covered in a travel insurance policy can have its own claim limit. Sometimes these limits can greatly restrict what a provider will pay out in the event of a claim. Even if a policy looks great on the surface and has lots of benefits included, make sure you read all the conditions and claim limits: you might find the limits are too low for the value of your trip and belongings.
If a claim limit is too low for you, what can you do? You can look at competitors offers by comparing policies and requesting quotes online. This way you might find a travel insurance policy that offers the same cover for the same price, but has higher (or lower) claim limits that better suit your needs.Read more about claims
Compare travel insurance: excess and prices
What is excess? Excess is the amount of money you (the policyholder) have to pay in the event of any claim. For example, an insurance policy might have an excess of £100 for a claim. If you need to make a claim for lost belongings and your luggage is worth £1,000, you would pay the first £100 and the insurer would then pay £900 to make up the difference.
As with claim limits, each section covered can have its own excess amount. You will usually find that the excess is the same for most incidents, but some insurers do charge higher levels of excess for certain incidents.
If you would prefer to pay no excess, you have two options:
- Buy a policy which doesn’t charge an excess on any claims. These policies are more expensive though and you could pay up to ten times the amount on it initially.
- Some policies offer an excess waiver. In this instance, you pay an additional premium to have the excess lowered to £0.
Typically, higher excess rates reduce the amount of an insurance premium and lower excess rates will mean a more expensive policy. When comparing travel insurance, never forget to look at the excess rate.
Whatever the travel insurance policy, there will be exclusions. An exclusion is a section or event that you are not covered for. For example, here are some common exclusions that could mean you’re not covered in the event of a claim:
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition (or potential condition and are awaiting test results) you won’t be covered if you don’t declare this upfront when you get a quote.
- Leaving your baggage unattended or not locked up/on your person (for valuables, gadgets and passports).
- Drinking alcohol at the time an incident occurs (i.e. you fall over and break your leg). Some insurers consider one drink enough to void a claim, but others will stipulate alcohol in excessive quantities. It’s obviously easier to lose (or break) something after having one or two glasses of alcohol so remember to keep yourself (and your belongings) safe when travelling.
- Travelling against government advice. If you travel to a country that the UK government has provided advice or warnings about, your insurer will not cover you for that country.
- Airline insolvency or scheduled airline failure insurance. Standard cover usually will not include this, but comprehensive policies may. If the policy you are looking at does include it, be sure to check with the insurer whether your airline is included before purchasing the policy.
Travel insurance policies have lots of exclusions and these represent a big part of a policy’s terms and conditions. This is why it’s important to read all the policy documents to see what you are and are not covered for. If something you need covered is excluded, such as airline insolvency, the policy may not be the best option for you.
When using a comparison tool or requesting quotes online, select what you want covered and check for all exclusions.
This is often the first thing we look at when comparing travel insurance: what cover is included? These are the factors already included in the travel insurance policy, including any excess, exclusions, and claim limits.
A standard travel insurance policy will have basic levels of cover for incidents such as medical, personal liability, and usually cancellation and baggage too. However, some insurers include cancellation and baggage as optional extras. A comprehensive travel insurance policy will offer higher quality packages with better levels of cover. This could be included in the policy or you may need to add individual components on in order to secure a comprehensive policy.
To make policies more flexible, most insurance providers offer comprehensive packages by offering optional extras (sometimes known as add-ons). You can choose to include these in your travel insurance policy if you want them. Obviously, adding additional cover will cost you a few extra pounds. Just like the standard cover included, optional extras are also likely to have exclusions, excess, and claim limits.
Optional extras allow you to buy extra cover to protect you against incidents not originally insured, or extend the scope of existing cover (such as baggage limits). There are dozens of add-ons that providers can offer, such as gadgets, pre-existing medical conditions, winter sports, golf, cruise, wedding, and high-risk activities. Cruise cover, for example, can protect you if you miss your ship’s departure.
Another factor you may want to consider is adding any travelling companions to your policy. Most insurers allow you to package a policy for couples, groups, and family members. This will work out cheaper than buying single policies for everyone. It is also simpler as you only have to buy one policy, and if you need your policy documents later they are all together.
How to compare travel insurance?
Comparing travel insurance in detail through comparison tools is becoming more and more popular as people understand that solely comparing price is not enough. Obviously doing a travel insurance comparison allows you to see prices that can vary greatly depending on your requirements, criteria and the insurance provider, but that's not all.
As we have just seen, travel insurance is made up of many different elements and each element affects insurance prices. That’s why it’s important to compare all these elements too.
Use a comparison tool or comparison guides
It can be difficult and time consuming to compare travel insurance yourself, going through one insurer after the other. If you are in a rush, using a comparison tool is an easy and fast way to find the right insurance for your travel and your profile. You can find your insurance in minutes and be protected quickly.
While comparison tools are great, they only show you the bare basics of a policy: price, excess, cover included. You still need to look at any travel insurance policy that tickles your fancy in more detail. For example, read the policy documents for exclusions and all sections you’re covered for. And what about customer reviews?
This is where Selectra’s comparison guides can help you out. Not only do our guides compare the price of travel insurance policies, they also offer a good analysis of what is included (and excluded), as well as a section on what current and past customers say about the policy in question.Compare insurance providers
Compare the price of travel insurance: what does it cost?
The price of a travel insurance policy can vary greatly: from as little as £3 to £200+. As you already know, the cost of travel insurance depends on lots of different elements: your profile, type and length of travel, the excess rate, any optional extras, claim limits and more.
For example, a 20-year-old with no pre-existing medical conditions travelling to France for three days will be cheaper than a-70 year-old with a pre-existing medical condition visiting the USA for two months. Why? Because:
- The length of travel is shorter.
- The traveller is younger.
- France (and Europe) is cheaper to insure against than faraway destinations such as the USA.
- They are not including any optional extras on their policy, such as a pre-existing medical condition.
In other words, insurers would see fewer risks associated with this trip so it will be cheaper.
The cost of a travel insurance policy also varies according to the insurer. Some insurance providers are known to be more expensive; others are known to offer more attractive prices. Some companies reduce their operating costs by only selling their policies online or by telephone, which in turn allows them to offer lower prices. Some insurers will offer specific cover that you will not be able to find elsewhere, especially for the same price.
Something else to consider is whether you have travel insurance included with your bank account. A common issue to be wary of with current account travel insurance is whether your circumstances have changed since opening the account? For example, key exclusions are:
- Age - there is usually a maximum age limit on the policy. If you have travel insurance that keeps ticking over with the bank, don’t forget that your years do too.
- Pre-existing medical conditions - while you may have had nothing to declare earlier, your health may have changed over recent years so make sure you update your policy whenever you have something to declare. If you’re not sure, it’s best to give your bank or insurer a call just in case.
- High-risk activities - you may have gone for a beach holiday last year, but need to add on winter sports for an upcoming trip. This is easy to remember when searching for a new travel insurance policy because you are prompted every time you run a quote. If you are relying on your bank travel insurance policy, don’t forget to update them with any non-standard activities you plan on participating in (this could be anything from hiking to skiing).
All providers and policies have their own advantages and disadvantages: the aim is to find a provider and policy that fits you the best.
Whether prices are expensive or affordable, customer service is also important. Do not sacrifice the latter for the first. In the event of a disaster, late compensation, unpleasant customer service and difficulties with getting in touch with your provider means your experience with the company can quickly turn sour.
Compare travel insurance: our opinion on providers and policies
Have you found a travel insurance policy that suits your needs? Are the items covered, claim limits and exclusions appropriate and sufficient for your trip? Does the insurer offer optional cover that might be useful? Will the basic travel insurance policy offered adequately protect you?
These are all legitimate questions that are normal to have. That’s why we offer our opinion on travel insurance policies and the insurance provider concerned. We also aim to show you companies in a new light via their history, governance and position in the market. Don’t leave anything to chance and read our travel insurance guides to help you compare travel insurance and find a good policy.