Don't let cheap travel insurance ruin your holiday

7 June 2016

Failing to read the small print on travel insurance policies could leave holidaymakers out of pocket and at risk.

A study of over 700 travel insurance products by comparison website found nearly half (45%) of products only offer cover for cancellation of any prepaid travel or accommodation expenses costing less than £3,000.

Almost half (49%) of products only cover valuables worth £250 or less, and just over one in 10 products offers cover for valuables of £500 or greater.

Holidaymakers often carry laptops, iPads, expensive cameras and mobile phones, but due to their policy restrictions many will be unwittingly travelling with uninsured valuables.

Over one in ten policies provide no cover for missed flights and almost a third (32%) of products will not pay out for missed connections within the UK. Even if your policy does cover missed flights, customers often have to undergo a lengthy process to make a claim including getting confirmation from the appropriate travel authorities.


Terms and conditions of travel insurance policies are on average 26,392 words, the longest of any insurance product, which highlights the difficulty customers face in understanding the details of their policy. On average, travel insurance terms and conditions would take 88 minutes to read – which may be offputting for consumers and encourage them to skip reading the small print and noticing important exclusions.

Association of British Insurers’ research in January 2016 found the average payout for a successful travel insurance claim was £889 but 13% of travel insurance claims went unpaid.

Moneywise’s top travel insurance tips

  • Never buy insurance from an agent or tour operator without comparing prices and cover online first.
  • If you have travel insurance included as part of a packaged current account with your bank, check what is covered and buy top up insurance if needed. Be warned that some packaged account travel insurance only covers you up to a certain age – so do check this.
  • Cover yourself from the moment you buy your holiday.
  • Make sure your policy includes at least:
  1. £2 million medical expenses.
  2. £1 million personal liability cover.
  3. £3,000 cancellation cover.
  4. £1,500 baggage cover.
  5. £250 for cash.



Moneywise’s most trusted travel insurance provider

This is the shortlist for the UK’s most trusted travel insurance provider 2016, as voted for by 24,000 readers of, in our Customer Service Awards survey. The winner will be announced at our awards ceremony on Thursday 9 June.

  • First Direct
  • Holidaysafe
  • LV=
  • M&S Bank
  • Nationwide Building Society
  • Staysure


Gemma Sonfield, head of travel insurance at Compare the Market, says: “Despite the fact that they are designed to provide reassurance, travel insurance policies can result in substantial costs for those who fail to read the small print. Terms and conditions can be lengthy, but failure to read them means many people may assume they are covered in all instances when they are in fact not.

“Many fall into the trap of buying insurance at the last minute which means that they may not receive a penny if they had to cancel their holiday unexpectedly in the run up to going away, and a proportion of products offer no cover for often unavoidable misfortunes such as missed flights.

“Cheaper policies may look attractive but often have higher excesses and rigid exclusions.”

(Click on the image below to enlarge.)

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