If you’re planning a trip abroad, travel insurance may not always be at the top of the list to arrange, but it should be regarded as one of the most important things to take on holiday. With so many providers and conflicting information, buying travel insurance can be confusing and it’s understandable that some popular myths, misnomers and expectations seem to come up time and time again.
To stop confusion, over-50s travel insurer Staysure has put together a list of the most common travel insurance pitfalls - and how to avoid them.
1. Forgetting your EHIC
Travelling anywhere without travel insurance is a huge risk and can also be a false economy. If you’re travelling in Europe you should always carry an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which entitles you to free or reduced cost emergency medical treatment if you have an accident or become ill.
It’s worth noting that not all European hospitals and their state health care will be to the same standard as the NHS - and therefore you may have to pay for some services that are free here. Keep in mind that the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance as it will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as being flown back to the UK, or lost or stolen property.
Some insurers now insist you hold an EHIC, and many will waive the excess from your claim if you have one so it is important to have both an EHIC and a valid travel insurance policy. You can apply for your free EHIC online or phone 0845 606 2030 - be aware of unofficial sites, which may charge you for an EHIC unnecessarily.
2. Failing to mention previous and current medical conditions
Almost a quarter (12%) of over 50s admit they are unsure whether they should declare their pre-existing medical conditions to their insurers. The rule here is, if you’re in doubt contact your insurer and discuss your medical history with them to ensure you are fully covered before you travel.
Claims directly arising from any pre-existing medical conditions will not be covered unless you have declared all your medical history, hospital visits and the medication you’re taking to your insurer at the point of purchase – and have them accepted by them in writing. It’s also important to tell your insurer if your medical history changes before you travel to ensure your policy is kept up to date.
3. Not checking policy limits for valuables
Generally speaking, most insurers have an overall limit for the amount you can claim for expensive items, so make sure to double check the limits of your policy with your insurer. In a recent study, Staysure discovered over half of over 50s admitted to taking risks with their personal possessions and valuables, such as not using a safety deposit box (16%) or taking cash or valuables to the beach (19%) while they are on holiday – don’t be complacent and keep your belongings in your locked hotel safe taking only the bare minimum with you for the day.
4. Assuming your travel insurance policy will cover all disasters
Although travel insurance is there to protect you and your belongings on your travels, it's important to remember that even the best policies might not cover every eventuality - as many factors will determine whether you are covered. For example, you will not be covered if you are intoxicated or over the limit. There are also a number of sports or activities which may not be covered as standard, so if you are planning to do any activities, check with your insurer to see if cover is available and/or if you can pay an extra premium to include it.
Make sure you read the policy terms and conditions to ensure you understand the limits of cover, what to do if you need to make a claim and have to hand the emergency contact assistance details.
5. Not doing your homework on policies available if you’re over 65
It’s true that if you’re over 65, many insurance providers will charge higher premiums for travel insurance policies, so it’s worth looking into a specialist provider such as Staysure that caters for your age. Look for the best cover at the most affordable rates and ensure you disclose all pre-existing medical conditions and your travel plans.