A Complete Guide to Buying Travel Insurance

In 2018,  71.7 million UK residents travelled abroad, with a staggering £400 million paid out in insurance claims overall. Some may see travel insurance as an unnecessary expense but with costs spiralling, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have the appropriate cover for your needs. With this in mind, our team at Compare by Review have compiled a list of the top 10 providers based on quality and service rather than price. We’ve taken into account real customer reviews so you can make an informed decision when it comes to making sure you and your loved ones are covered for all eventualities. 

How to get the best deal on travel insurance

It’s key to make sure you find the best travel insurance that covers you and your property when abroad. The majority of people don’t look much further than price when it comes to travel insurance quotes and miss out on the finer details. The team at Compare by Review have highlighted the most important tips and tricks to make sure you get the best policy.

Think about the cover and not just the price

Cheap travel insurance isn’t always best. Sometimes the cheap option will let you down when it comes to claiming. By spending that little bit extra you will likely have a far more comprehensive cover that will not only pay out, but also make sure that all eventualities are covered such as theft, unexpected emergencies and natural events. 

If you don’t understand the jargon ask! 

Read your policy from cover to cover to make sure it won’t let you down if you need to claim. Most providers will have a cooling off period so even if you find an issue after purchase, you can cancel. 

Check your excess

Make sure you compare the excess. This is especially important when you’re looking to save on your policy as this can sometimes lead to a costly claim on your return. In some cases the excess can be applied on each type of claim. For example, if you’re mugged on holiday you may have to claim under the medical category, the personal property section and loss of money category in your policy.


Things to consider

There are a few instances where your loved ones may not be covered. If you’ve purchased a Family Policy, it may be invalid if a member of the family travels independently. Your Family Policy may also be invalid if you’re travelling with a step child that doesn’t permanently live with the policy holder. 

Check your destination

Before you travel, make sure you check the Commonwealth or Foreign Office. If they’ve warned against travelling to your particular destination your insurance will be invalid. Also, if you plan on crossing a border to another country on your holiday, make sure you take out a policy that covers you for more than one country. 

Are your belongings covered?

Most policies cover lost and stolen personal belongings and baggage up to a certain amount.  Many policies also have a total valuable limit, which is applied regardless of the value of the single item.  Another term to be aware of is ‘single article limit’, this is the maximum amount that will be covered for each item. If you have expensive equipment and belongings, such as cameras and jewellery, check they are covered before you travel. Some insurers have different definitions of ‘valuables’. Also, check your home contents policy as some items may be covered.

Check the time on your policy

Make sure you take out a policy that covers the entire length of your stay.  If you’re travelling for more than 90 days, shop for a long stay policy or even take out specific back packing or gap year insurance.


Do you need a specialist policy?

If you have a medical condition or are aged over 65 you may need a specific policy.

Are you doing any activities?

There are a range of policies that cover winter sports but not all policies, as standard, cover adventurous activities and sports.  If you’re looking to take part in any activities, make sure they’re covered in your policy first. Some of the more ‘usual’ activities such as mountain biking and canoeing can be deemed as adventurous. 

Cancellation cover

If you need to come home early or cancel you trip make sure you have the appropriate cover. Your cover will only pay out if you fall into one of their specific categories: a close relative has fallen in, you are requested to come home or stay at home by the police, you have been called for jury service or have been called as a witness.

Are you covered for airline or hotel failures?

If you’re booking a package holiday make sure it’s ATOL covered (Air Travel Organisers Licensing). If your tour operator or hotel goes bust, you will have the choice to receive a full refund or the chance to finish your holiday. If you’re booking your own holiday you will need to check your policy to see if you’re covered for disruptive situations. There’s the option to add extras to your policy to cover for situations such as your hotel or airline going bust.

Our guide to specialist travel insurance policies

Pre-existing medical conditions 

Travelling with a pre-existing medical condition can be daunting but if you get the correct cover it can be plain sailing. The term itself covers an extensive amount of conditions and the definition varies depending on the provider and policy, but your policy will likely consider the following as a pre-existing medical condition;

  • any condition you’re waiting for an operation on.
  • any condition you’re currently awaiting test results for.
  • any condition, however small, that you’ve seen a doctor about in the last year.
  • any serious conditions you have ever had such as cancer, heart trouble, respiratory problems.This can also include any psychological conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

If you’re unsure whether your condition is covered just ask.  Your provider will need to have all the correct information including if you’re currently taking any medication. If you don’t submit the correct details you will run the risk of your cover being rejected. It’s important to bear in mind that policies that cover your medical conditions will tend to have a higher cost, however in the long run this could save you £1000’s in the case of an emergency.

Over 65’s

As you get older, travel insurance policies tend to cost more. Statistically over 65’s are more at risk of injury and illness. Similar to standard travel insurance, it’s imperative to check your policy to make sure it covers you and your belongings.  Most importantly you must declare all pre-existing medical conditions.


Whether you’re a gap year student or trekking the globe, specific insurance to cover your travels is a must have. Peace of mind is key when far from home, if something happens to you or your belongings, the knowledge that you will be covered allows you to enjoy every moment. 

Backpacker insurance allows you to travel to multiple countries as part of your trip and offers more than standard insurance. A good policy should cover your medical expenses, cancellation, delays and missed connections, lost luggage, extreme and adventure sports and personal liability. There are a few factors you need to consider when travelling with backpacker insurance, such as returning home mid way through your trip, countries covered or working abroad. Make sure you’re clear on what is and isn’t covered before you travel.

Winter sports 

Winter sports such as skiing or snowboarding carry a high risk of injury, therefore winter travel insurance is key.   A comprehensive policy is vital especially as many resorts offer a wide range of other activities such as ice skating and tobogganing. 

Due to remote locations and extreme conditions, rescue and treatment for winter sport related injuries can be very costly, especially in America. Aside from medical bills, insurance can also protect against personal liability, lost holiday days due to bad weather, alternative equipment if your luggage is delayed on the outward journey and misplaced equipment and ski passes.

If you’re into more extreme sports, such as off piste skiing, snowboarding or glacier climbing, you may find you will need separate cover. It’s important to remember than many insurers will request you wear a helmet, otherwise your policy will be invalid. Mostly all providers will refuse to pay out if you have an accident whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.