Several years ago my husband suffered a heart attack on our holiday to France. We had booked through a travel agent and taken out insurance, so hopefully when we claimed things would be straightforward. I won't bore you with the details but suffice it to say that the cover provided was by Mondial and our experience when trying to sort things out was nothing short of a nightmare!
Never again would I use this company's insurance so I decided to buy an annual policy provided by Direct Line. I took this out ten months ago and hoped I would not have to claim. Unfortunately after booking a holiday six months later, I had to cancel the trip due to a death in the family. One simple phone call to Direct Line and I was sent a claim form. This was duly completed and returned, with a copy of the relevant death certificate, and within days my claim had been met and I received a cheque.
I can only hope that should the need arise for assistance when actually abroad, that Direct Line's service would be as good.
The morale of this review is to read the small print and only use insurance companies that have been highly recommended. I would not wish anyone to suffer like we did on that holiday in France when we were at the mercy of Mondial Assistance. I dread to think how much worse it would have been if we had not taken out any insurance at all and simply relied on the E111.
How to buy the right cover? It would be easy to simply suggest that anyone going on any trip abroad buys the right travel insurance policy for them and the kind of trip they are making. But how? Firstly, almost certainly price is not the only thing you should consider - and anything that is free won't be if you are left with an unpaid claim. We all take something in case it rains - but amazingly many don't take insurance. If it rains- the worst is you get wet. If you fall ill - the bill for just one day in intensive care abroad is thousands. It is clear that:- - not all policies are identical in what they offer - price is only one factor - but an important one - we all want VFM - there is little point in buying a policy if it doesn't cover you That may all seem obvious, but many people (as some reviews bear out), simply look to find the cheapest premium. This is strange becase I doubt that they looked for the cheapest holiday / flight / hotel without also considering the quality of what they were going to get. True of even more of us is that we fail to read even the summary of cover and exclusion well - so we have paid our premium and don't even know if the policy would pay for us? Insurance is simply put a promise that if you pay a premium, an insurer will in a defined set of cirumstances reimburse you for some or all of a loss that occurs. Rather than try and fail to be expert and impartial - I share below the following links to websites which contain very useful guides and advice on travel insurance - if you are not sure what you are buying - check out these first (cut and paste the following www. addresses into your address bar):- 1) UK Government Official site - also lists some insurers who signed up to their Know Before You Go campaign >> www.fco.gov.uk - then follow the Know Before You Go Link - and check out Current Partners 2) General
Insurance Selling Council - will become part of the FSA - offers basic advice >> www.gisc.co.uk/publications/july2001/TravelGuidNotes.pdf but will be under www.fsa.gov.uk from 2004 I assume. 3) The Assosciation of British Insurers produces a guide too > http://www.abi.org.uk/Public/Consumer/Holiday/ Hope the above is useful background - remember you don't always buy the cheapest wine for good reason! Equally, if you can cut out the middlemen - you may save loads. As an absolute minimum - look for a GISC logo -which means the insuers agrees to perate by a failry tight industry code of practice and make sure you are not excldued by the "pre-existing medical conditions. That is not enough but probably two top items to check for. I always buy my cover online because it offers the best value and it is easier to compare the cover. Also if you buy online - most decent companies offer a 14 day money back of you change you mind (so long as you haven't travelled that is).
OK, you're a traveller - one of the intrepids who takes your family off to the Mediterranean once a year. You spend hours checking out the resorts, research on the web what other visitors have said about the place that takes your fancy and you then make a booking. At this stage, most of us switch off. And this is a big mistake! Mistake number one is that as many as 25% of us fail to take any form of Travel Insurance policy to protect ourselves and our families. Mistake number two is than many of us think an E111 health form from the post office provides us with full care! In France, for example, you will have to pay for at least a third of your costs - which if you spend weeks in hospital recovering from a road accident will exceed £10,000! Mistake number three is to rely on Travel Accident Insurance provided by your credit card. This is NOT Travel Insurance. While it pays out a juicy £50,000 if your plane ditches in the Alps, killing you, it does nothing if you sprain your ankle playing football on the beach. Mistake number four is to rely on insurance provided by a fee charging bank account. The cover is usually totally inadequate, and only covers the card holder! Not much help for a family of four! Mistake number five is to rely on "free" cover "bought" from the Travel Agent taking your booking. These policies are racked with exclusions, multiple excesses and inadequate levels of cover and, in severe cases, will leave you thousands of pounds out of pocket. The problem is, you only find out how good a policy is when you claim - and most of us are fortunate enough not to need to! Mistake number six is to buy from a travel agent or tour operator. These places dominate the market, yet usually charge twice as much as equivilent policies you can buy from a bank or direct provider. So, I've let you know some of the pitfalls. But what should you look
out for in a policy? Well, the most distressing times on holiday come in the case of medical emergency. Medical costs worldwide are expensive and rarely free at the point of purchase. Typical consulataion charges are £75, to see the equivilent of a GP. Hospital care can cost £300 a day. Flights home for somebody discharged from hospital can cost £2,000. So it is essential to be properly covered! Some of the "free" policies will have exceptionally low limits for medical costs - if you are seriously considering buying a "free" policy, ask the Travel Agent to compare cover on the free poicyto the policy they'd sell full whack for. BIG differences! Excesses are common place in travel policies. Typical excess will be £50 per claim. This isn't too bad, unless you discover a little clause that says £50 per person per claim. If all your suitcases disappear in transit, you have yo pay the first £200 for a party of 4! Look for a policy that only applies one excess. Other exclusions on inferior policies can be no payments for airport delays. If you end up stuck in an airport for 20 hours waiting for your flight, you will probably want 3 meals, magazines, newspapers, games etc to entertain yourselves. This can again approach £200 for a typical party - don't be beaten by no cover or the multiple excess denying you a payout. Most Travel Insurance policies include cover for personal possessions. It can be pretty traumatic having your camcorder pinched on the beach in Magaluf. It's even worse when your travel insurer refuses to pay out as you already have cover on your home contents policy and forces you to claim from you home insurer instead. This is perfectly legal too! So, if you have cover on your home contents policy, look for a travel insurer who will discount your premiums for excluding personal possessions cover - a 20% is probably reasonable. Oh, and if you are the victim
of th eft m ake sure the local police and tour rep have a report to substantiate your claim. Many sports are excluded too! Smash in to a cliff face while paragliding and most travel insurance policies won't pay! If you plan to partake in exotic sport, make sure your policy covers you before you travel, not while you are in the back of a Greek ambulance! Remember, exotic may simply be jet-ski-ing, scuba diving or power boating. Check! Cancellation cover is also crucial - will the policy pay out for the whole family if your little one falls ill the night before you fly, it will it only pay for one adult and one child, effectively splitting the family for two weeks! So, in summary, you really MUST have a travel insurance policy. My advice is to pay for one from anybody other than a travel agent. And read the small print first - especially the bit about "pre-exsting medical conditions"! What does "good" look like then? Policy excess of £50 per incident or less (NOT per person per incident) No excesses for delayed baggage cover Cancellation Cover £5,000 plus Medical Emergency £10million plus Baggage cover £1,500 plus Delayed Baggage £200 Personal Belongings £1,500 (£500 for cash) Discount for excluding personal belongings cover as you?re contents policy already covers you! Personal Liability Cover £2million or more There should be a lot more in there too!
Be careful when buying travel insurance if, like me, you have a pre-existing medical condition which will not be covered by standard travel insurance. This may include things like, previous heart conditions, lung conditions, blood and blood pressure problems, cancer, or any condition for which you are currently on medication. When looking for travel insurance for myself in North America, I was finding great quotes on the internet, and thought, brilliant! Cheap travel insurance! However, when I went to confirm these, they nearly all asked for any pre-existing medical conditions, and when I said yes, they all came back saying SORRY! We can't cover you! OR we will not cover you for anything related to your pre-existing medical condition. Now the problem is, if you are going to North America, where medical costs are sky-high and no arrangement exists with the NHS, if you do need hospital treatment, or even just a consultation, you will end up with a huge bill which must be paid by you. And, even if you think the condition is not related to your previous problems, I'm sure the medical advisors of the insurance company will find some connection to avoid paying out, don't you?? So take my advice, always find a travel insurance company that covers pre-existing medical conditions, no questions asked. Expect to pay around £10 more for a single-trip insurance. And never be tempted to claim you do not have medical conditions when you do, otherwise you could forfeit your entire travel insurance, not just the medical part. I found that TEsco Personal Finance were the best, covering my condition with no added excess or special clauses, so now I can travel with confidence and peace of mind.
I recently used their family rate for a european holiday up to 17 days and it worked out half the price of any other I could find. From a cost saving point of view I couldnt find anything cheaper. I would probaly use them again but I would be interested to know If anyone has had to put a claim in and how the service held up. Anyway, If you just want some cheap insurance and you cant be bothered to spend to much tim looking, then you could do a lot worse.
I booked a holiday recently and was about to get sucked into that “buy our insurance…” thing when I heard the cost. It was going to cost me nearly £40 for a week! I booked the holiday but exerted my right to shop around first. In the end, for convenience I went to my university travel agents. It only cost me £18 to insure me and my baggage for the whole week with Go Bananas travel insurance (2 banana) through USIT Campus. Students and young people (under 35) can get it and it doesn’t just cover you for the usual stuff, it covers you for quite a lot of dangerous sports too. If you look at the small print on most policies you’ll be lucky if sunbathing is included! You can also pay slightly extra to avoid paying the insurance excesses. You can also get the insurance details through http://www.usitcampus.co.uk/countries/uk/index.html. Fortunately I didn’t have to claim on my insurance but I was impressed by how much cheaper it was. If anyone has any experience of claiming (good or bad) then please send a comment and I’ll add to this accordingly. Price quoted is for a week (8 days inc travelling) in europe. In response to sue.51's comment, even if you paid the excess waiver (so you didn't have to pay the excess if you had to claim) Go Bananas was cheaper than the travel agent (which was Trevel Choice) and did cover cancellation, missed flights, delay etc as well as the other stuff. I agree you have to read the small print though.
Six weeks before we were due to go to Tunisia for a Winter holiday, my sun-loving partner was identified as having possible melignant melanoma requiring a major operation and skin graft, to remove the offending article, sadly the predicted diagnosis turned out, on this occasion, to be spot-on. Bearing in mind my history with Thomsons, and their habit of cancelling our holiday at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances, we thought that they may be a little sympathetic to our plight. My partner and I trawled through the brochures looking for an alternate holiday later in the year and once decided, I sauntered off to the Travel Agents (Travel House) to ask for their help, and advised them we would be quite happy to pay any amendment charges and extra holiday costs. They were very helpful, provided the costings and proceeded to contact Thomsons, their parent company, to request their assistance, they didn't want to know. We contacted Thomsons Customer Services Manager, who advised us that there was no way they would be able to accommodate us, as they would not be able to sell the holiday in the time allowed, for the February half term period, something I find very difficult to believe. At this point we honestly believed we were going to lose our money, it didn't even occur to me about the Travel Insurance provided free with the holiday, which, for some reason, I had taken out the excess policy at the time of booking, something I have never previously done. We proceeded to cancel the holiday, not knowing whether we were going to get a refund or not, and the travel agent sent off the details to the Insurance Company. One week later, we received around 40% of the monies paid back from Thomsons, and also a form from Sterling, asking for the details and reasons for cancellation. We completed the relevant sections of the form, and submitted it to our GP for medical reports and completion, a very painles
s and quick procedure that cost us £15. We posted the form off, and 3 weeks later received a check for the full and final balance of the holiday costs, less the airport tax (£60), which I believe we could also have claimed back, but fels satisfied with the overall outcome of the situation, which initially made us think we were going to lose every penny. I have always been cynical of travel insurance, and most of us never think we are going to need it, and certainly not before we even left the house. We found the procedure, quick, painless and helpful at a very difficult time. The company will not cover you for pre-existing medical conditions if you have not advised them prior to travel. Fortunately, I have never had to use insurance abroad, but in the light of the events that happened to us, I would certainly recommend paying the small amount extra for the excess (something which all insurance policies carry). I have always understood most minor medical procedures abroad not covered under the E111, require you to pay out first, and claim it back upon your return home. I will update this op, when I gauge the response from them when we advise them that we are due to travel under one of their policies in the near future. When booking insurance through this company, you are issued with a brochure that informs you of all coverage details, maximum benefits proferred, numbers for calling when abroad and other useful telephone numbers. ===================== Sterling Travel Insurance Services General Enquiries: 0161 475 6000
I have done a lot of travelling in the last ten years and I would say that insurance is where the travel agents really slot a few tenners in the back pocket. Package tours and bargains on the high street that look so sexy nearly always include their insurance to get the price. I think it’s their second biggest rip off out side of the dreaded single room supplement. Not forgetting of course the fact that your hotel bares little resemblance to the one in the brochure in substance or quality. As most of my travelling is three months or more its not cost effective to use the high street travel agents that can charge up to 60 pounds a week for a family of four. The general insurance companies like Colonnade etc again offer non-competitive rates to back packers and independent travelers. I use the ones at the back of travel mags like Wanderlust and Adventure travel that are way cheaper than the big names as they have less over heads being in small upstairs offices etc. Columbus direct is probably the best know one offering around 20 pound a month for Europe up to 35-40 worldwide. As one in 197 people in America are trained as lawyers it has the highest premiums by far, even higher than South Africa, which is slightly safer than Israel at the moment. I used Downunder Worldwide travel insurance first for my American cross-country six monther in 1997, which worked out at about 130 odd for six months. Not fully comp, but covering the all-important medical and A and E up to four million. When you go to the Southern Hemisphere its best to take out a little extra premium of 35 pound or so if you are going to Bungee or something similar as the general premium wont cover it. The second time I used a cheapy was when I was in The Republic of South Africa which is not safe at all for traveler’s and you need insurance full stop.I was mugged in Joburg on my second day in Africa,not the best feeling for the remaining eight months used Worldwid
e travel insurance which was Lloyds underwritten etc and offered all the basics cover for a war zone. At a starter of 11-50 per month for Europe it was not to be sniffed at so I managed to cover six months for less than 120 quid. I was robbed twice in South Africa and had to get a police report for the first for evidence which you must get these days as theres a lot of fraud out there and you wont get paid also took the page of The Joburg Citizen which contained the statistic of me being the first English tourist of the year to be robbed. Always get evidence of a claim or you could be twiddling your thumbs on your return folks. Read the small print as a lot of these cheaper deals have limits of payouts on luggage losses and cameras under the contents ploy. You need serial numbers from them to get the total payouts. One more tip. Photo copy all of your traveler’s cheques and documents at least twice leaving one with your nearest at home and a carry around for the cops on your trip. You can wait ages in Consulates for temp passports and they charge you nearly as much as a new one for them.
Myself and my wife have just returned from an excellent weeks holiday in the Loire Valley, France. Whilst we were there the dispute over fuel prices came to a head and the petrol blockade began. This didn't worry us too much as - 1) we were in the countryside and the local petrol didn't run out until Thursday 2) we had about 200 miles of petrol in the tank 3) we were insured with Travel and Personal Underwriters Limited and had a Missed Departure clause which would cover further accommodation costs. On Friday with the National situation getting worse we rang the Underwriters, explained we were in France, that we had insufficient petrol to reach the Channel Tunnel and that we would need to claim under the Missed Departure clause. However - They said - "You're not covered." We said - "But the Missed Departure clause says you will 'pay up to £500.......in respect of reasonable additional accommodation and travel expenses necessarily incurred to reach the final destination as a consequence of strike, riot,......causing him/her to arrive too late to commence the booked journey.'" They said - "You're not covered." We said - "But the strike means we can't get enough petrol." They said - "But your car isn't on strike is it? You're not covered." We said - "But your definition of strike says........." They said - "You're not covered". We said - "What about the Travel Delay clause?" They said - "You're not covered." We said - "Right, we'd like to make a complaint." They said - "Fine, but you're still not covered." Since this we've talked to other holiday makers with different Underwriters and they have had the same problem. So a word of warning if you are t
raveling out to France, or any other country where there are indications of possible petrol problems, try to get a specific clause added into your insurance that will cover you if you find yourself stranded. P.S. Fortunately our holiday ended on a happier note as we headed towards the Channel Tunnel anyway and managed to find a garage in the middle of nowhere that still had some petrol enabling us to get home. But it could have been worse...................
Ok so most of you looking at this site will already be thinking of travel insurance - Trying to find the cheapest prices - Best deals ( scrougeing). Five years ago I took my family on a ferry/drive trip to Disneyland Paris. On the way back, driving through rouen, I was stationary at traffic lights and was hit from behind by a truck doing 40 plus. Luckily the injuries to everyone elese was not severe, the french helped a lot, and we got the best of attention at the hospitals. One of the doctors friends even helped us back to the UK. NO INSURANCE THOUGH - thought I could get away with it. Back in england I went to the hospital and they discovered that my 'sore' neck was in fact broken! (for those in the know a fracture of the pedicule of c2) Due to the fact of not having any travel insurance I had to resort to seeing a solicitor in the UK to reclaim the losses. *********THE FRENCH DO NOT PAY OUT THE SAME AMOUNT**** We managed to get 50% of the cost of the vehical No Monies for actual other losses 50% max of the solicitors fees Compensation for injuries were not generous *******£1,500 for a broken neck *******£750 for severe whiplash and nothing for post traumatic depression (its real talk to the wife about the nightmares) The french don't beleive t exists. So all in all having no insurance added to the holiday bill about another £6,000. Not bad for a three day trip to Paris!
I love travel and have been on some great hols to various destinations but what really bugs me about booking these holidays is the insurance issue. I am a sensible (ish) adult and do appreciate the necessity of travel insurance, what upsets me is the way it is now sold. Travel Agents are no longer allowed to offer discounts on condition that you take their insurance and so instead say that you must have insurance and do you want theirs. If you say you intend arranging your own they then say they need to know who it is with and consequently offer you the same rate as whichever company you quote. The moral of this tale must be shop around for prices to quote and then take the insurance from your Travel Agent when they match it, but why oh why do we have to do this. give us a decent deal and we will be happy, even better make it a fixed rate part of the holiday package then we customers know exactly what we are paying.
We travelled to Florida earlier this year via Schipol. Unfortunately we were delayed an hour in Edinburgh and missed our connection in Amsterdam. As it was Queen's day ( their busiest day) we unable to continue our journey until the next afternoon and had to spend the night in Amsterdam - not much fun with 2 kids, no local currency and no luggage ( this had already been lost between Edinburgh and Amsterdam!) When we returned from what was THE best holiday ever, we filed a claim with our travel insurance ,to then be told that we were only covered for delayed departures(over 4hrs) from our original airport. We are now having to pursue a claim against KLM since they advised us to get on the first flight even though they knew we would miss our connection ( I don't hold out much hope of success!). So please take heed and check your on travel insurance before you leave. Although it didn't spoil our holiday I think this was due more to our determination than anything else
If, like me, you are not content to lie on a beach but prefer to do something a bit more active- beware! Make sure you read the small print of any travel insurance before you take it out. It may not cover you for activities such as sailing, diving, snorkelling etc. These are not especially high risk persuits but a lot of the cheaper policies exempt them. I have annual, worldwide insurance from The British Mountaineering Council. They insure all activities from snorkelling to an ascent of Everest, and are more than willing to tailor specific policies for you. They are not expensive, as they are a non profit organisation. Contact them at www.thebmc.co.uk Even if you do not take insurance with them, consider activity insurance before heading off overseas. Injuries sustained doing very low level sports, even the rep organised 5-a-side match, may not be covered leaving you with a very expensive foriegn hostpital bill. P.S. don't forget your E111.
A word of warning to all those going on holiday, we have just been to Ibiza, unfortunatly my seven year old son started complaining of ear ache, and kept me up all night crying, so I duly called the doctor, which I assumed my Thomson medical insurance would cover, and we would not have to make any payment. To my shock when I produced my insurance papers, I was told I still had to pay for the treatment a total cost of £64, the doctor explained that with the Thomson insurance you have to pay all costs up front, and claim it back when you arrive home. This was not so bad for just an ear infection, but it was also the same if you needed hospital treatment, which could lead to thousands of pounds. We were unaware of this when we took our medical insurance out, and advised by the doctor, either to get Lunn Poly insurance or Going Places, as with this you just produce your certificate and the insurance covers the cost with out having to pay up front, and the hassle of claiming it back when you get home. (UPDATE) Not only do you have to claim your medical fees back when you get home, but it has also taken seven weeks to receive a cheque from them. On opening the cheque I was also informed that I had paid the excess, which was a cost of thirty pounds. I think this is disgusting on medical fees, I could understand if it was personal belongings with no proof of damage or any kind of police report, but not when you have sent of a written letter from a doctor, and receipts from the chemist. Next time I will be more careful when taking out any medical insurance. And I would advise you to do the same, always check that your medical insurance covers cost when you are away.