Winter break? Your travel insurance could let you down…

4 min read
December 12, 2019

Booking a ski trip or winter break? Make sure your travel insurance covers everything you think it does. Every year, we hear from consumers whose winter sports cover has let them down. Here’s our travel insurance checklist.

Whether you’re taking out travel insurance with AXA or Virgin Money, there are a few things you should really double-check before you sign on the dotted line.

We’ve put together this checklist to keeping yourself covered this holiday season.

Is my sport covered?

Sports holidays? Adventure holidays? We’ve heard some travel insurance horror stories.

The worst thing you can do is to make assumptions about what’s covered and what isn’t.

Check that your activity is definitely covered.

If it isn’t mentioned in the policy at all, get written confirmation that it’s covered. You don’t want to get caught out abroad and face massive bills.

Pay particular attention if you’re planning on going snow-mobiling, sledding or trekking. Many snow sports policies don’t cover these activities.

What about pre-existing medical conditions?

Always make sure you declare any pre-existing medical conditions. Be aware that an insurer’s definition of a “pre-existing medical condition” may be more complicated than you’d think.

If you’ve had symptoms of something before you took your insurance out, it’ll count as a pre-existing condition. This is the case even if the condition wasn’t diagnosed yet.

We’ve heard from Resolver users who’ve had their claims rejected because their insurer has spotted old visits to the doctor that they consider to be connected to a condition. This is something to be aware of when taking out a policy.

If the way your insurer treated you doesn’t match up with the terms and conditions of your policy, your policy might include unfair terms and conditions that don’t reveal the limits of your cover.

Are there limits on baggage cover amounts?

Limits on baggage cover often catch people out. Even where baggage cover is offered as an optional add-on, there might be a low limit on what you can claim. It’s always worth considering whether your baggage cover is worth it. We think that the extent of your cover should always be obvious – and if it isn’t, your cover was probably mis-sold.

Does your insurance cover items stolen from vehicles?

Most travel insurance policies won’t pay out if you leave your belongings “unattended”. This means that if thieves take something from your unlocked car, your policy won’t cover you.

Some insurers will even refuse to pay out if you’ve kept valuables in your car boot. If someone breaks into your car boot without any visible damage, you may be in trouble. Insurers can claim that you’ve left your boot unlocked – and you won’t get a payout.

We think that your insurance policy should always set out the exact conditions for a payout. You shouldn’t have to guess whether your policy will cover incidents of theft.

Does alcohol invalidate your claim?

Insurance companies may not pay out if alcohol leads to an accident that could’ve otherwise been prevented.

We think that some types of holiday cover that prohibit drinking are pretty unfair – if you’re insured for a cruise that offers free booze, for example, it’s pretty unreasonable to expect you not to drink if you want to.

Is my travel insurance invalid if I didn’t leave the UK?

It’s worth knowing that some travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you aren’t travelling abroad. You can generally expect this to be made clear in the T&Cs. If it wasn’t, you may have been mis-sold the policy.

What if something’s stolen from my hotel room?

This one is pretty outrageous. Most policies will cover you for items you’ve left in a safe, secure place. However, if you’ve only locked your hotel room with a key card, some insurers will consider it unsafe. This means they probably won’t pay out if someone steals your things.

That’s why we think your policy should make this clear. If it doesn’t, make sure you ask your policy provider. After all, there’s nothing better than peace of mind.

Add-ons – should you bother?

Always check exactly what your add-on insurance covers – there’s a good chance that it will only cover the bare minimum.

Loads of policies offered by major travel companies will only cover you in incidents of cancellation.

If they do cover things like lost or damaged baggage, they may have a maximum cover lower than what you’d normally expect.

What can I do if I was treated unfairly?

Just because your insurance policy has terms and conditions, doesn’t mean they’re fair or that your insurer should use them to avoid paying out.

You can always make a complaint and you can go to the free Financial Ombudsman if you’re unhappy.

The Ombudsman frequently overturns decisions where dodgy T&C’s have been used to avoid paying out.


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