Why your holiday insurance might not cover you if things go wrong when you are away

Discount Holidays © Holiday enticed by cheap travel insurance deals could be left forking out if things go wrong. The pitfalls of budget deals can leave travellers short, with some insurers offering just 100 for valuables, while others impose huge excess fees that take a large chunk out of claims. And experts have warned travelling without adequate cover could lead to Brits paying thousands of pounds for stolen bags, travel delays and medical emergencies.

Earlier this month, a British holidaymaker died from suspected blood poisoning in Bulgaria1 days after his insurers refused to fly him home for life-saving treatment. Michael Doyle, 29, from Swindon, Wilts, took out travel insurance – but the policy did not cover being airlifted home.

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Some 40% of Brits admitted to going on a trip in the past without any insurance at all, with 20% of young holidaymakers (aged 18 to 24) admitting that they never buy travel cover. And last year one in five travelled abroad without any cover.

Excess charges were cited as the main reason for not purchasing insurance – as they make claiming not worthwhile- and others confessed their policies had expired without them realising. Bob Atkinson, travel expert for the comparison website TravelSupermarket.com, said: “Don’t risk your trip – it’s so important protect yourself. Good cover will safeguard you in case something goes wrong.”

We scoured the major travel insurance sites for single-trip cover for a 50-year-old couple travelling to Spain for seven days, leaving on Sunday August 21, to see whether low-cost insurance deals would meet their needs. And when we scrutinised the small print the shortfalls became clear. A policy with Columbus Direct was just 11.45 for a couple but the payout for lost or stolen cash was just 50.

Baggage cover was 1,000 but there were two exclusions. The single-item limit, – the most you can claim each possession – was just 100. Also, there was a cap on the amount you could claim for valuable items, again of 100, which is unlikely to cover jewellery, phones, cameras or tablets.

Our research also found how the amount of excess on policies makes it difficult to submit low-value claims. Argos’ 11.06 policy charges 250 excess, wiping a quarter off the 1,000 baggage limit. And Debenhams’ standard single-trip policy, costing 18.04, offers cover for lost or stolen money up to 200. But the excess is a whopping 175, leaving the claimant with just 25. In comparison, a 22.58 policy with Multitrip.com2 offered better protection, with 3,000 on offer for baggage, a maximum of 350 per personal item and 1,000 cover for personal cash – with just a 50 excess fee.

Getty Why Your <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday Insurance Might Not Cover You If Things Go Wrong When You Are Away Travel insurance can end up being a headache

And while Saga’s option was more expensive, at 34.82, their deal offered more for lost, stolen or damaged baggage – with 5,000 available – and extra options such as money for delays and missed or replacement flights. And excess was just 70. Mr Atkinson said: “From delays and cancellations to suffering theft and lost baggage, travel insurance does more than just cover medical bills.

“A decent policy only costs a small amount more than the cheapest.

Buying the lowest-price deal is a false economy.

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“Cheaper lead-in prices provide a limited level of cover and may have higher levels of excess.

“They will also have a lower level of cover for things like medical costs and things such as cancellation may even be excluded.”

A spokesman for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “It is important that people understand what we can do.

“We cannot pay medical bills so it is vital that you have a comprehensive travel insurance package for trips overseas.

“We also advise reading the small print to check that your policy covers you for everything you want to do on your holiday.”


  1. ^ a British holidaymaker died from suspected blood poisoning in Bulgaria (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ Multitrip.com (www.multitrip.com)

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