Otherwise you could pay a huge financial penalty if things go horribly wrong.
Don't just compare the prices of travel insurance products; compare also the benefits of the cover, the exclusions on the cover and other product features.
If it doesn’t, you can cancel your policy for a full refund.
Should you be planning to travel abroad on more than a single occasion in a year then you will almost certain save money by buying an annual multi-trip - travel insurance policy rather than a single travel insurance policy each time you go.
The annual multi-trips may automatically cover those weekend trips to the countryside or to the city.
So when you take your camera to the zoo and it gets destroyed by a monkey it might still be insured! Check out who offer travel insurance if you go anywhere for two nights or more.
Sometimes your travel agent or tour operator may tell you that you have to buy their travel insurance in order to buy a holiday from them, maybe as part of an inclusive deal. Only take this if the total cost is rewarding, compared to buying the holiday and travel insurance separately. In most cases you will probably find that you are paying over the odds for the travel insurance, even if it is in some sort of 'special deal'. Margins on holidays are very tight nowadays and tour operators often make most profit from selling overpriced 'extras' such as travel insurance.
Make sure you have the international helpline number for your travel insurance company, along with a copy of your policy, with you all the time.
Your wallet is not necessarily a good place to keep this information, as it could well be the item that gets lost or stolen and you want to claim for!
Consider medical coverage if travelling to another country. In most cases it is always best to take the medical insurance, even if you are going to a country with an E111 agreement. This agreement helps in cases of emergency, but does not generally cover routine problems. It is also especially important if you're in a developing country with limited medical resources.
It’s important to understand your medical coverage. Does it cover repatriation to your home country, if necessary? Does it cover ambulances?
If you are getting a policy for your family, make sure all members are included, as some policies have limits on the number of people.
Will the insurance require you to pay for medical? Or other bills upfront and then reimburses you? Or the policy will kick in immediately?
Your insurer needs to be aware of any medical conditions that you have, or you may not be covered by the policy you purchase. Your car insurance company needs to know if you will be driving abroad, in order to advise you on the most adequate cover to take out.
Read the small print! Deadly boring to do, but it's the only sure-fire way to know what you are and aren't covered for.
Book travel insurance directly after you booked your holiday, so you will be covered for cancellation. Make sure you know the insurer's terms for cancellation though.
You may be able to lower your travel insurance premiums by purchasing join cover if you are travelling as a couple.
Understand the different policies for different travellers. There is single-trip, annual, backpacker, worldwide, ski and winter sports, and other specialty travel insurance policies.
When you decide on a policy, make sure you know what activities it doesn't cover, such as certain sports (e.g., bungee jumping).
Do not count on regular, standard travel insurance should you be planning to undertake extreme or dangerous sports on your trip. You need to arrange suitable cover. Likewise, if you are not planning to undertake dangerous sports then don't buy cover for them, as you are paying for something that you don't need.
Check your credit card. Your card might provide some insurance coverage if you pay your airline ticket with it, and also on any electrical items you may have bought recently. It is often better to claim on credit card insurance as it won’t affect your travel insurance claims history (someone who has claimed a lot on travel insurance in the past might find it difficult to get reinsured)
It's safer to buy from a travel insurance company. A cruise line, airline, or other travel company may go out of business, and your insurance may not be honoured.
Make sure you know the reimbursement amount. Many policies limit the amount of money paid to you in case of theft or damage. Also find out if everything you plan on taking with you, from jewellery to high-tech camera equipment, is covered.
Most policies require you to pay an excess (usually 50 -200 pounds), so make sure it's not more than the value of your luggage.
Shop around. Use the Internet to help you find a good deal on a policy that meets your insurance needs.
Travel insurance policies sometimes exclude certain areas for reasons, especially if there are safety concerns in that country. Be wary of "bankruptcy" protection. It is often very difficult for a company to be declared official bankrupt, and until it does you might not get a penny from your travel insurance company.
Some travellers make the mistake of buying travel insurance coverage equal to the entire cost of the trip. You only need enough travel insurance to pay for items that are not reimbursed. For example, even a non-refundable airline ticket can be exchanged for new dates.