Sunday 18 August 2019

Your Money: Ensure you're fully insured abroad

Brexit uncertainty now adds new complication to your travel insurance plans

Peace of mind: A family of four can be easily covered for €50 a year for all their trips within Europe
Peace of mind: A family of four can be easily covered for €50 a year for all their trips within Europe
Sinead Ryan

Sinead Ryan

We're all going on a summer holiday ... or, perhaps the blast of snow last week put you in mind for skiing. Wherever your travels take you in 2019 it's vital that you put enough insurance in place - and the right kind - before you leave. This week we're looking at travel insurance and doing a little myth busting about what you need, and why.

The good news

This is a market with lots of competition; that makes it cheaper for consumers to shop around. Travel cover is cheap - a family of four can be easily covered for €50 a year for all their trips within Europe (see panel). Considering the cost of your overall holiday, it's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

The bad news

Yes, it's our old friends 'Terms' and 'Conditions'. All policies are not equal and this is where you need to decide what you need. For most trips, eg, a sun holiday or city break, then bog standard travel insurance will do. Most insurers sell three types - the main difference is the amount of cover. Even the most basic policy provides for medical expenses, lost luggage and getting you back home if needs be.

For travel outside the EU, or more intrepid adventures, you need to pay attention to the policy conditions. Likewise if you're over 65 as you may need to be specially underwritten.

What you need

Emergency repatriation and medical expenses for injury or illness is a key component, says's Ciaran Mulligan. Their policies automatically offer €20m for this. If you're going skiing, back-packing or planning hazardous sports like mountain climbing or sky-diving, you really need to tell your insurer. Yes, they'll charge extra, but you'll be covered for more.

Most policies cover emergency hospital bills, holiday cancellation and lost luggage. Top end plans include travel assistance abroad, volcanos erupting or lack of snow for skiing and even hijack insurance.

What about the EHIC?

The European Health Insurance Card is free to EU citizens, giving rights to access emergency medical treatment as if you were a citizen of the country which you're visiting.

Many people erroneously believe it's enough, but it certainly won't cover repatriation, complex medical procedures, convalescence, lost bags, damaged property or paying for someone to stay with you.

What about my health insurance?

Many private health policies automatically include a travel element. Sometimes this is very good (although it may only cover the health-related claims, rather than theft or missing bags). Call the VHI, Irish Life or Laya and ask specifically what you are covered for on holiday. If there's a gap, you need travel insurance.

What about Brexit?

If there is no-deal then the UK acquires 'third country' status. It is outside the EU. For travellers, this means your EHIC card will no longer be valid; the NHS will be under no obligation to treat Irish tourists for free, or at all.

Separately, you may need 'Worldwide' cover, which is more expensive.

For drivers, an Irish/EU driving licence will be accepted in the UK. However, driving in a non-EU country is not insured without evidence of a 'green card', or document proving you have insurance. These are currently being rolled out by the Motor Insurance Bureau ( via insurers in the event of a no-deal and will be needed for Northern Ireland travel also. Apply immediately if you intend driving in NI/Britain after March 29 as it takes a month. There's no clarity on its cost, but you can expect insurers to at least charge an admin fee.

Irish Independent

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