Safe travels: our guide to getting travel insurance

6 min read
May 31, 2023

Getting ready for your holidays is an exciting time. Thinking about something like travel insurance can feel like a bit of a downer. 

While it is nowhere near as exciting as planning where to stay, what to eat or adventurous activities, we have all seen how quickly unforeseen circumstances may arise – that flights can be suspended or laws of entry changed overnight, and that, unfortunately, illnesses and accidents can befall any of us. 

Even before a worldwide pandemic showed us how easily everyone’s holidays can be put on hold, British travellers overseas were making around one million pounds worth of insurance claims every day. So while travel insurance might seem like an unnecessary cost, that is only until something goes wrong and you’re facing thousand-pound bills for medical care or rebooked flights.  

In this article we unpack some key things to know about travel insurance, when and how to buy it, and what difference it will make to your trip. 

And if you’re thinking about switching, our partner QuoteZone’s insurance comparison tool will help you find the best travel insurance policy and save time and money.

Why do I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance may seem like just another money hole – but in most instances it offers really important protection against the many financial risks involved in travel. We may not want to think about it, but going on holiday can lead to all kinds of costly problems.

Among the things that travel insurance protects you from is cancellations or other kinds of disruption to flights or other forms of transportation. It can protect you if your personal items are lost or stolen, whether in transit or at your holiday destination. And if you fall ill or have an accident while you are away, travel insurance can help cover the costs of medical treatment or emergency transport home. It can also save you from paying out if you injure someone else or cause damage to property.

While it is generally up to you whether you purchase travel insurance or not, in some types of holidays such as cruises or diving holidays, you will be required to purchase and provide the details of your travel insurance as a condition of travel or entry. 

When should I buy travel insurance?

It is easy to put at the back of your mind but the best time to buy travel insurance is the same time you book your holiday. 

From paying for flights to putting down a deposit on your accommodation and activities, when you’re spending your precious holiday fund it is the time to take out insurance to protect it if something should happen that means you have to cancel your plans.  

It may not be possible to buy insurance in advance of booking the trip itself, but when it comes to last-minute purchases, you can buy a travel insurance policy up until the moment you leave home. 

Once you are on the trip though, you won’t be able to take out a policy for that particular holiday. So whatever you’re decision, make sure you’ve made it before you fly. 

What should I look out for in a policy? 

Before you purchase your travel insurance, it is important you ask yourself what type of cover you need. As well as where you’re going, you should think about what you’re doing on your trip. For activities like scuba diving or horse riding, there are certain kinds of risk you may want to ensure will be covered. 

There are other factors to consider too. Back in 2021 we wrote a guide on travel insurance and Covid-19. This may not feel as urgent as it did in 2021, but much of this guidance is still applicable and worth your consideration before you take out cover.  

And if you’ve had any previous medical conditions, or will be vulnerable while you are away, you may want to research insurance for these specific issues to make sure you can relax by knowing that you’re fully protected.

If you’re unsure of whether you have to declare a medical condition you’ve previously had or not, it is best to err on the side of caution: disclose it to your insurer so that you know you’ll be covered while you are away. 

How long can a travel insurance policy last?

Depending on the kind of travel insurance policy you buy, you will be able to have coverage for one or multiple trips. So it is worth thinking about what suits your plans for the summer holidays or whole year.   

With single-trip travel insurance, your policy will start on the day you leave and end the day you return. But it will also cover unexpected cancellations that occur before you embark on your trip. 

With annual or multi-trip travel insurance you may save yourself money by not having to take out individual policies for each trip you take over a longer period. With these policies, the cover will begin on the day you select as the policy start date and ends 12 months later. It will cover you for any travel within a selected region for this specific time period. 

What documentation will I need?

While travelling, it is important to be able to easily access your travel insurance policy. If you are travelling with a phone, tablet or laptop, you should save a copy on your device or online so that you can quickly and easily refer to it in an emergency. 

However, you may be travelling somewhere with little internet access or only carrying the bare essentials. If so, you must ensure that you print a copy of your policy documents, with emergency phone numbers and instructions on how to make a claim, to have on you should something unforeseen arise. You may also wish to give a copy to a friend or family member at home in case you need their help making a claim while you are away.

As well as the policy itself, there may be other documents it’s a good idea to carry with you. 

Where pre-Brexit we all had The European Health Card (EHIC), there is a new variation called the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). It is free to apply for and absolutely worth having to ensure that you can access medical care as quickly as possible in an emergency.  (Watch out for fake firms advertising on Google that charge £35 to process the application – these are scams. Only go via the NHS or Government website.)

In some countries, you may still be required to show proof of Covid-19 testing or vaccination to enter destinations or enjoy certain services. So make sure you check the latest guidance before you travel.

If you have an existing medical condition, you should travel with paperwork detailing your condition, any medication you’re taking or treatments you’re undergoing, to share with medical professionals if you were to fall ill or have an accident. 

If you end up being the victim of a crime or are involved in an accident during your trip, your insurer is likely to request an official report with a reference number to support your claim. So if this is to happen, be sure to request this from the local authorities or police. 

Where to compare?

Ensuring you have the right insurance for your travels is an essential part of booking your holiday and enjoying it. We have partnered with Quotezone to help consumers save time and money when looking for the right travel insurance policy. 

So if you are looking for a new policy, check out this Travel Insurance Comparison Tool and find the right deal for you. 


If you have any comments, questions, or other travel insurance issues you’d like us to cover, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us at

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