So you’ve chosen your destination, booked your flights and are looking forward to taking some time off. But if you are planning on doing more than lying by the pool with a good book then remember to pay attention to the small print in your travel insurance policy. if you are taking part in any activities, from hiking to skydiving, then make sure you read the small-print so you don’t get any nasty surprises… Here are our top tips for choosing the right adventure travel insurance for you.
Where are you going?
As most people know travel insurance is often grouped into Europe, worldwide (excluding USA) and worldwide (including USA). Travelling in America without medical insurance means you risk extortionate medical bills should you fall ill or injure yourself. However, Europe is somewhere people often don’t bother getting medical travel insurance as they believe they are automatically covered by their EHIC card (ex. E1 11) but be careful.
Make sure you check that where you are travelling to is covered by the card; some areas, like the Isle of Man and San Marino are not covered, while other non-EU countries might have a reciprocal healthcare agreement – here is a very useful country by country guide from the NHS website.
Be aware that in many of these countries medical care is not free at the point of need and so you may need to pay a small fee for treatment like a doctor’s visit or x-ray. Make sure that you are receiving public and not private healthcare, your EHIC will not work for private healthcare and you may well end up in a private medical centre footing an expensive bill that in some cases needs to be paid upfront and claimed back from your insurance company later.
Most insurance companies ask that you have a valid EHIC when you travel in Europe as this greatly reduces their costs - you may even in some cases have to pay a large premium if you do not use the card.
Whether or not the UK will remain in the scheme post Brexit is still unsure, but fortunately it seems that the government is keen to keep it.
When are you going?
So we have established that an EHIC card is essential for travelling in Europe. But it is not travel insurance and does not cover you for repatriation, cancellation, lost or damaged luggage, or theft. If you are planning an expensive trip then travel insurance is an essential part of the planning. A policy with good coverage in case of emergency cancellation is a small price to pay when you consider what you are forking out for your trip, so make sure the first thing you do after booking your holiday is getting your insurance sorted.
What are you doing?
Yes you may have annual travel insurance, or you may even have free cover provided by your bank, but make sure you check what activities/sports are covered by your policy. Read the small print. Some policies might not cover hiking above a certain altitude but will cover scuba diving to 18m. If you have booked an adventure break, make sure you read the itinerary and check it against your policy. If in doubt phone your insurance company to check if a certain activity would be covered. In some cases, like winter sports (see below) specialist policies are required.
A reputable activity provider will be insured themselves and will frequently include personal accident insurance in the cost of the excursion, though it is always best to make sure that your own travel insurance policy covers the activity.
Always print out your policy and take a copy with you so you can check if any last-minute unplanned activities are covered.
Winter sports in particular require a special policy, and activities like skiing off-piste and tobogganing may or may not be covered so always check. Make sure it also covers 3rd party liability, if you get into a collision on the slopes that is your fault you could be sued.
As well as personal or 3rd party injury, it will also cover things like lost, stolen or damaged equipment (for your own equipment or for rental equipment) and lost, stolen or unused lift pass (in case of injury).
Many resorts do sell personal injury and liability insurance with the lift pass, but do not cover equipment or lift pass.
So in short here is what to remember:
• Always read the small print
• If you are from a participating country make sure you carry your EHIC card with you when you travel to Europe
• Make sure your activities are covered by your chosen policy
• Never travel without travel insurance!
Have we left anything out? Let us know in the comments below.