Huge queues out of airport departure halls. The luggage went missing. Flight cancellations. You find yourself stranded at your destination not sure how and when you’re going to get home. The return to abroad travel for most of us has certainly not been the smooth transition we were hoping for.
Yes, it’s fair to say that the tremendous post-COVID summer getaway of 2022 has hit one or two snags. Variously described as “disruption” or “chaos” depending on where you get your news from, the simple truth is that the air travel industry is still struggling with massive staff shortages having laid so many workers off during the course of the pandemic, and that means airports cannot cope with the sudden surge in demand.
If you have got a holiday abroad booked this summer, you’d be strongly advised to brace yourself for a rocky ride. At the very best, expect delays. At worst, you should have a plan B in mind in case your trip does get cancelled, including backup dates if you are offered an alternative re-booking.
On top of everything else, get yourself some financial protection. Yes, if your flight or package holiday gets cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund if any alternative dates aren’t suitable for you. If the cancellation happens within 14 days of departure, you can also claim compensation from your travel operator.
But will that compensation cover everything you have spent on your holiday? The train to the airport? The airport car parking? The car hire at your destination? What if you have bought flights and accommodation separately, and your hotel or apartment or guesthouse won’t refund your deposit? What if your flight gets cancelled more than 14 days before your departure date, and you’re therefore not entitled to compensation?
For all of these reasons and more, the smart move this summer is to take out travel insurance – and a good level of cover to boot. Travel insurance fills in all those cracks that exist in the statutory refund and compensation schemes the airline industry is obliged to offer. In short, it gives you added peace of mind that, should the worst come to the worst, at least you won’t be massively out of pocket at the end of it all. Here’s a checklist of things to look for to get maximum protection from your travel insurance:
1. Make sure cancellation payout limits cover your costs…
Different travel insurance policies offer different levels of cover, which in practice means different maximum payouts across the various things included. Most of the time payout limits rise with the price of the policy. This is well worth bearing in mind before you just choose the cheapest insurance you can find on a price comparison site.
For example, if you have splashed out on a four or five-star hotel for a couple of weeks that is costing you, say, £2500, there’s not much point in buying bargain basement travel insurance with a cancellation limit of £1,000. If you get hit by any kind of cancellation, you will end up out of pocket even if your insurance pays out.
…and be prepared to pay an excess
Similarly, cheaper policies tend to charge higher excesses or the share of a claim you have to pay. So again, buying the cheapest travel insurance you can find could end up being a false economy. As well as getting a lower overall payout, you could end up paying hundreds of pounds in excess. More expensive policies, on the other hand, will often charge little or no excess on claims.
2. Check what counts as a cancellation
It’s important to read the small print on each policy and find out what you can or cannot claim. For example, most policies will now cover you for having to cancel because you or a family member test positive for COVID-19 before you fly. But what if you have to cancel because of a family bereavement, or because you get made redundant? Many policies will cover these circumstances, but not all. Be sure you know what you’re covered for.
3. Find out what the insurer’s COVID vaccination policy is
The entry rules of certain countries, Spain included, which specified you had to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed in have now largely been relaxed. But that’s not necessarily the case with travel insurers. Some companies, at least for certain policies, still require you to be fully vaccinated, otherwise, your policy is void. If you or a member of your party isn’t double jabbed, make sure you check the small print before you buy.
4. Ask what happens to your policy if your holiday dates change
Just as happened last year when lots of holidaymakers were rearranging travel dates last minute because of positive COVID tests, this summer thousands of holidays are being moved because of flight cancellations. Be aware that moving your holiday dates doesn’t automatically mean your travel insurance will be carried over with them, so it is definitely worth reading into before you take out your chosen policy.
At one time, you would have had a hard job moving your travel insurance for a booked trip full stop. Many travel insurers have now relaxed their rules on this to keep up with the high demand. But you will still have to contact your insurer to change the dates – don’t assume it just happens, or you will end up without cover.
5. Know your exemptions
Just as important as what travel insurance does cover is what it doesn’t cover, or conditions and circumstances that invalidate your policy. Some universal ones include not declaring a known medical condition, getting injured and needing medical treatment after excessive drinking, and taking part in a “high-risk activity” (usually some kind of sport). Unwittingly doing something to invalidate your policy is just as bad as not buying insurance at all – especially if it leaves you unable to make a medical claim and potentially facing a bill of thousands of pounds in treatment costs.
Use this travel insurance checklist and don’t get caught out
Travel insurance is a crucial factor to consider while making vacation plans. Yet, selecting the best insurance might be challenging due to the abundance of aspects to consider. Here is where our in-depth travel insurance checklist comes into play. You may make sure that you are entirely protected in the event of medical crises, travel delays, and other unforeseen situations by utilizing these instructions.
The fine print of each insurance must be carefully reviewed in order to understand what constitutes a cancellation, the insurer’s COVID vaccination policy, and what happens to your coverage if your vacation dates change. Also, you must be aware of your exclusions and what your coverage does not cover.
Take the essential precautions to safeguard yourself and your loved ones before leaving on your trip. You may travel stress-free knowing that you are completely protected for all eventualities by using our practical checklist. Thus, be sure to review our thorough travel insurance checklist before you go out on your next journey.
Mirela Letailleur is a Romanian travel blogger living in the South of France. She writes on The Travel Bunny travel blog about affordable travel in Europe. Creator of unique free travel guides and local travel expert. Problem solver. Wannabe coffee guru.
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