Taking out adequate travel insurance should be the first thing on your list after booking a trip. Having insurance in place in case anything goes wrong between the time you book your holiday and the actual departure date is important. Why risk unwelcome financial losses on top of the disappointment if you have to cancel your holiday.
When purchasing Annual Multi-trip travel insurance many people try to save money and ‘extend’ the length of validity of the policy by making the ‘start date’ the same as their holiday departure date. This is false economy because it means there is no cover in place in the interim period for any unexpected events which may cause cancellation.
Most travel insurance policies cover cancellation of a trip for a variety of reasons, including unexpected illness, accidental injury, or death relating to you, your travel companion, a business associate, relative, or the person with whom you were planning to stay on your trip.
Other unexpected reasons which might occur to cause cancellation include:
- Being called for jury service, called as a witness, or for compulsory quarantine
- An accident involving your vehicle occurring within seven days prior to the date of your departure – if going on a self-drive holiday
- Being posted overseas or unexpected urgent requirements of duty in the case of those in the armed forces, police, fire service, nursing or ambulance service (Note: does not normally extend to being posted abroad due to an act of terrorism, war, or invasion)
- Redundancy – if the event happens during the period of insurance which qualifies for payment under the Redundancy Payments Act
- Accidental damage to your residence, making it uninhabitable, or if the police should require your presence after a burglary at your home within seven days prior to the departure date of your trip
- Pregnancy: Where the birth is expected within 14 weeks of the departure or return date; or where complications of pregnancy occur prior to the 26th week (if no prior history of complications)
- For students and backpackers, those on a gap year, etc. some policies include cover if cancellation of a trip becomes necessary because of having to re-sit exams – but only where the date of the policy being issued is prior to all exam dates relating to any need for a re-sit
If you have not taken out travel insurance, or have delayed the start date of the period of cover, an unexpected cancellation may mean that you will be left to bear any financial losses for flights, transfers, rental car, accommodation, organised tours, ticketed events, etc. As you can see from the above, there are all kinds of problems which could arise, affecting you, or someone close to you. With insurance in place your losses should be confined to payment of any excess due on the policy, which would be minimal compared to the alternative.
Ensure that you obtain all the necessary visas for your trip, as well as inoculations and vaccinations. There have been reports of travellers arriving in the United States and being denied entry because they did not register with ESTA within 72 hours of travel. If you are travelling to the U.S. under the visa-waiver programme it is vitally important to make sure you comply with the new ESTA requirements. Be warned: Travel insurance does not normally cover claims for financial losses due to failure to obtain necessary visas!
Insurance policies can be daunting in their complexity, but it is worthwhile taking the time to read and understand the terms of your policy to avoid any unexpected or unpleasant surprises. If we could be certain of what the future holds there would be no need to purchase insurance at all – for anything. Unfortunately, that is not the case in the real world! Happily, most holidays go ahead as planned – with no serious problems – but why take a chance?