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We all insure our houses, our health, our possessions and our car, so, why are one in four people travelling abroad without travel insurance?
We all think it won't happen to us, but accidents on holiday happen daily - some of these are life threatening, and the cost of medical bills can be extortionate. Many travellers don't know what travel insurance is for, or what it covers, and some mistakenly think that the UK government will pay medical costs if they are taken ill abroad. Travel insurance is intended to cover losses incurred while travelling, such as lost luggage, medical expenses, flight accidents and trip cancellation, plus many other types of losses. The insurance covers you either internationally or at home.
When booking your holiday, you should automatically book the correct type of insurance to cover the type of holiday you are taking. There are a vast range of policies available which can be booked either with your travel agent or online, including single-trip, annual multi-trip, winter sport or long stay travel insurance. More specialised policies are available for things like motorcycling holidays, backpacking, rock-climbing, canoeing and scuba diving.
It is possible to buy insurance even if you're already overseas. Extending travel insurance is also possible through a number of companies, on the basis that no accidents have already occurred. Also, if you're still travelling and your existing insurance expires, you can usually extend it for another year. Many companies will offer a discount to extend your policy as long as it is done before it expires, depending upon the length of the original policy, for example, a one year policy and not just a 17 day policy.
If you are unlucky and your current insurer will not extend your policy, and your travel plans have changed, there are companies who will offer you a flexible cover to take over the risk for the remainder of your trip. Policies are available for extensions from 1 to 18 months, and will cover you worldwide. These can also include winter sports and many leisure activities. This also includes travellers who are temporarily working abroad.
Medical claims and expenses are the biggest liability for insurance companies, so if you have a pre-existing medical condition, don't assume you will not be offered insurance. Go online to one of the travel insurance comparison sites, and tick yes for pre-existing medical conditions when completing the quote form. Always be totally honest, as your condition and destination play a part in determining the policies available. Cover is likely to be more expensive and there may be some exclusions. Non-disclosure of pre-existing medical conditions can invalidate your policy and may be classed as fraud.
Always read the fine print on your policy to find out the specifics of what is and isn't covered. Policies will vary greatly between different companies, so read them carefully and make sure you are getting what you need.