What is holiday protection?
In this article, we cover: Travel Insurance, GHIC / EHIC, Car Hire & Stand-Alone Excess Insurance.
It’s holiday time at last! You've been saving for this all year and it’s time to go. You’ve packed your factor 50 sun cream ready for the beach…but have you protected other aspects of your vacation?
Don’t forget your travel insurance!
It's not the most exciting part of your trip, but getting travel insurance is an essential part of planning a holiday to protect yourself and your family. In a nutshell, travel insurance is all-purpose emergency cover if something goes wrong before and during your holiday.
As soon as you've booked your trip, you should take out travel insurance so that your holiday is covered from the get-go in case of cancellations or for unforeseen events that force you to cancel. Many people leave taking out insurance until the last minute, meaning that risks such as flight cancellation or illness preventing travel lead to loss of money paid out.
Once you are on holiday, what happens if you fall ill or have an accident – where will you go? what will you do? how will you get home? How do you arrange all this whilst sick or injured? and how much will it cost!?
With one phone call, your travel insurance policy should help you get medical treatment and then get you home – and cover the cost!
Quick Tip: Make sure to keep a note of your policy number along with the 24 hour medical emergency telephone number for contacting your travel insurance provider somewhere easy to find e.g. on your phone, with your passport, or inside your wallet.
Single trip travel insurance covers you for a single holiday, no matter the length.
Annual multi-trip covers you for a full year across multiple holidays.
Backpacking will cover you for an extended period to multiple destinations.
Price matters, but don't just go for the bargain basement cheapest policy. You should ensure your travel insurance policy covers everything you need; from lost luggage to emergency medical care, cancelled flights to natural disasters, and a reasonable policy excess. Good travel insurance should cover it all - you don't want to be stuck with a big bill if your trip doesn't go quite as planned.
(Policy excess is the amount you pay towards a claim e.g. if you claim £300 for lost luggage and your policy excess is £250, then you only get £50 back from your insurer. Excesses can be as low as £25, so it is worth checking before you buy!)
For more in-depth detail of the cover provided by different travel insurance policies, and to use a travel insurance price comparison tool, click on this link to go to Moneysavingexpert.com
I have a GHIC, do I need travel insurance?
The Global Health Insurance Card GHIC offers an extra layer of medical protection if something goes wrong when visiting most EU countries (excludes Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein); check the country before you travel.
The GHIC only provides for treatment in state hospitals, not private medical healthcare. You will be able to get emergency or necessary medical care for the same cost as a resident in the country you’re visiting. This means that you can get healthcare at a reduced cost or for free; you will have to pay for treatment in full if you do not have a GHIC.
The GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance – it doesn’t cover everything e.g. repatriation back to the UK, or mountain rescue.
Are you hiring a car?
There are a number of car hire comparison sites you can use to find the best price. One example is Skyscanner which searches 1,000+ car hire sites including brokers and travel agents, for drivers aged 21-99. You can then whittle down your search results with filters which cover fuel policy, air conditioning, pick-up, car size, and more. Booking in advance for car hire abroad can save £100s.
Basic car insurance will usually be included when you hire a car, but you will have to pay an 'excess' amount if you need to use it. This can be in the £100s or even £1,000s.
A few years ago, we hired a car from a well know hire company in Europe, and on returning the car after the holiday, we were charged £500 for a tiny stone chip on the windscreen. The photos we had taken when picking up the car couldn’t prove if the chip was already there when we picked the car up - but there was no negotiation anyway. The fee was taken straight off a credit card deposit. Luckily, we had purchased a stand-alone excess insurance policy before leaving the UK and were able to claim the whole amount back on this policy.
When you collect your car, hire firms often try to flog 'top-up' insurance which removes your excess. This can be as much as £25/day – don't do it. Instead, get a stand-alone excess insurance policy before you leave the UK for as little as £2 per day. These work by you paying the hire firm's excess in the event of a claim and then reclaiming the money from the excess insurer. What's more, standalone excess policies often cover more than the basic insurance offered by car hire firms, such as damage to wheels and windscreens.
To get the best price, click the link to go to excess car insurance comparison site Moneymaxim, which checks 17 providers, and allows you to choose between one-off or annual policies.
Important: If you get standalone excess insurance you will be asked to leave a large deposit of £500-£1,200 on a credit card to cover any potential damage. Most companies require a credit card for this, but there are some that accept a debit card if you shop around.
Don’t forget to request a personal code from the DVLA up to 21 days before picking up a car - in the UK or abroad. This is needed so that hire firms can check for points. To get a code, you'll need to request one from the Share Driving Licence online service via Gov.uk or by calling 0300 083 0013.
If you want even more in-depth information about hiring a car abroad, go to Moneysavingexpert.com
Are you driving your own car?
If you are planning to take your car on holiday, it’s a good idea to make sure your car insurance covers you for driving abroad. The easiest way to do this is by checking your policy documents or contacting your insurance provider directly. Even if your current insurance policy covers driving abroad, there could still be limitations that could void your insurance if you don't know about them. Don't assume that because you have a fully comprehensive policy in the UK, you'll automatically have the same once you cross the Channel.
Enjoy your holiday...and don’t forget the sun cream!