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I hate having to pay for insurance, it is costly and nine times out of ten unnecessary.

However travel insurance can sometimes mean the difference between a great adventure and a nightmare.

If something happens to you abroad it can be extremely expensive to fund any medical treatment or emergency evacuation costs, be aware also that in some countries you are required to provide evidence that you can fund any treatment you need before it will commence.

Insurance cover means treatment can start without delay and save you the headache of finding the funds at short notice. Remember insurance can also cover the items you take with you, if you have your camera, laptop or phone stolen or damaged these items can often be replaced on the road.

Fortunately we have yet to use our travel insurance (I touch wood as I write) and since leaving the UK have had to take out two additional policies, motorhome and scuba diving insurance.

Oh the joy.

However for the cost of  those few dollars a month our mind has been at ease knowing that our investment in the Winnebago was safe and an emergency evacuation helicopter on its way out to the Coral Sea should we need it while diving.

If you are savvy and do your research there are some great deals to be found but before you search make sure you know exactly what you want from your policy.


  • Medical and health cover for an injury or sudden illness abroad – the higher the expensive coverage the better. Most policies provide at least £50,000 however there are cheaper policies out there with just £10, 000. To quantify this if you break and arm or leg the cost of corrective surgery will exceed this amount. Don’t skimp in this area. You are potentially short changing your life.
  • Coverage from pre existing medical conditions – most policies will take this into account but it may affect the cost of your monthly premium.
  • 24 hour emergency service and assistance – this is pretty standard but always worth checking the availability of help and advice.
  • Personal liability cover in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property – again look out for higher coverage where possible here.
  • Lost and stolen possessions cover – In the UK many companies will not cover items over £250 as standard and you may have to pay an additional fee to extend this amount.
  • Funds for legal advice in the event it is necessary while abroad.
  • Cancellation and curtailment (cutting short your trip) cover.
  • Extra cover for activities that are commonly excluded from standard policies, such as jet skiing – the list of activities you are covered for will be much shorter than the list of those you are not and therefore easier to memorise.
  • 60% of travel insurance policies now cover terrorism. Where possible, ensure that your policy does not exclude terrorism.


  • Do you have full world coverage? Are there countries or areas that will negate your policy should you visit. Some policies allow you to fly through restricted countries en route others do not.
  • Know what activities your are covered to participate in and consider buying a supplement to cover yourself if you are likely to take part in restricted extreme sports.
  • Find out what would happen in the event of a medical emergency, are you expected to carry proof of your coverage on you or will the company arrange and pre pay for your medical care.
  • Read carefully the rules regarding drug and alcohol related injury, the majority if not all policies will state that any injury incurred while under the influence will not be covered. This will apply also to any third party injury claims, you will have a hard time with any claim where it has been proven that you were intoxicated.
  • Cover yourself, keep all medical receipts and ensure you can produce the relevant forms and documentation required when asked. Insurance companies are out to make money from you not pay it out. Stick to the terms of your policy if they can avoid paying you compensation they will.
  •  If your valuables are stolen from a vehicle or hotel room are you covered? What do the insurers class as securing your items and if so can you prove that you weren’t negligent or reckless resulting in the theft of your things.
  • That the insurer will refund the full cost of your holiday if you need to cancel or cut short a trip because you fall ill, become pregnant or suffer a family bereavement.
  • Ensure that the insurer will refund the cost of any pre paid excursions or flights should the operator go bankrupt.


  • Insurance bought online can be up to 50% less expensive than anything bought from your travel agent.
  • Check the rating of the under-writing company and where they are based. Stick to reputable under writers based close to home.
  • Contact your credit card and existing insurance companies and discuss your needs with them. They may have additional add on policies or offers for existing customers.


  • You can not claim for lost or damaged items without an original proof of purchase and a police report where applicable.
  • To claim for lost or damaged airline baggage you must get some paperwork or a receipt from the airline stating the fact. Do not leave the airport without any paperwork.
  • Call your insurance policy as soon as humanly possible after an accident, they will have a database of hospitals and clinics in your local area and may stipulate how your treatment must be handled in order for your policy to be valid.


  • Come prepared with all the necessary paperwork and be prepared to wait for your money. Insurance companies scrutinise every claim do your best to ensure your case is open and shut.
  • Keep a copy of all your receipts and any money spent, anything you can not prove will not be considered.
  • As with most companies they are likely to have some form of online social media, if you are unhappy with the service you have received or the time scale involved in dealing with your claim send the company a friendly message on a public forum to give them the incentive they need to contact you and resolve your claim.
  • Refrain from engaging in any activity that may invalidate your policy, it just isn’t worth the risk.
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Share your top tips for purchasing travel insurance in the comments below.

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