Switching travel insurance is plane sailing
Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30
When you take out travel insurance you're typically asked whether you have private health insurance.
While this will definitely get you a discount on the policy, it can in no way replace the value of proper specific travel insurance.
In fact, many people are confused about what travel insurance actually offers that they don't already have elsewhere. While there is undoubted over-lapping (and therefore unavoidable over-charging), it's really not something you can do without.
For example, if you booked through a travel agent, or with an airline and something goes wrong, you're covered under Statutory Laws, i.e. you'll get a refund or replacement trip as airlines and agents are fully bonded.
Your Health Insurance policy, on the other hand, normally provides cover for repatriation - i.e. if you need to get home after falling ill abroad.
The EU's European Health Insurance Card (www.ehic.ie) is free and will get you admitted to a public hospital in a member state. Again, it's no substitute for travel insurance and while you'll get A&E treatment, it won't fly you back home.
Therefore, travel cover is mainly used for loss of baggage, delayed flights, stolen property, missed connections or other such things.
There are many online operators now which are very good. Blue Insurance is the big company in this field, although MultiTrip.com is excellent.
Avoid buying insurance from a travel agent - it's normally loaded with commission. Ditto your health insurance company, as you can get cheaper elsewhere.
It's useful to consider multi-trip annual policies rather than insuring for each separate trip. Even if you don't think you'll be travelling more than once, the premium may only be marginally different. Each family member is insured separately so you don't have to travel as a family everywhere (although children need to be accompanied).
Extras include hazardous sports - if you're planning on skiing for instance, you'll need to say so on the application as there's usually an extra fee. If you have an existing medical condition which requires ongoing treatment (e.g cancer or a heart condition) you may be restricted from insuring on these.
Most insurers offer a range of products from basic to top end. However, the difference is generally in the amount covered, but bear in mind, for many incidents you'll only ever get back the value of the loss. So insuring for thousands of euro for baggage worth €50 is a waste.
The big costs are in medical costs and if you're travelling outside the EU, this becomes absolutely essential.
Make sure you ask the following questions before switching:
What benefits does it cover in the event of lost/stolen property?;
What happens if I fall ill?;
If my flight/holiday is cancelled, what will you do?;
What should I do if I need to make a claim?