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Travel insurance tips – and the cost of NOT getting insured

Is it worth taking out travel insurance for your next holiday? We've put together essential tips, from annual multi-trip cover to car hire, and we spell out the risks of travelling abroad without insurance.

Travel insurance – is it worth it?

A significant number of people who go on holiday don’t take out travel insurance, as they see it as an unnecessary cost that can be avoided. The situation has not been helped by some people losing faith in travel insurance having found themselves uninsured during hurricane season, or ineligible to claim during a strike.

Whilst few policies will cover you for every single possible outcome out there (especially so called “acts of God”) most policies will cover you for the more mundane (but far more common) occurrences; lost baggage, cancelled flights and the all important hospital bills.

Man driving a motorbike in Bali - travel insurance, is it worth it?

Indeed, the costs of medical care abroad can be extortionate for visitors and repatriation bills even higher. If something happens, it will either be you or your family who will end up footing the bill. Even within Europe, where the European Health Card Insurance Card offers some support, it won’t cover costs for long-term healthcare or the cost of repatriation, which can cost over €20.000. Travel in the USA or Canada without adequate insurance and get in trouble, and the costs are even higher.

Taking all this into account, the cost of a travel insurance policy turns out to be really quite a reasonable investment. Use these tips to get the best value travel insurance for your holiday.

Multi-trip travel insurance

Diving - travel insurance tips

If you’re going to travel abroad more than once or twice a year, save money by getting an annual multi-trip insurance policy. This is also handy if an unexpected trip comes up, as you’ll be covered for that too.

Be sure to add in any extras such as winter sports coverage, and do shop around online and compare different policies. The cheapest tend to have large excesses and lower cover limits; it may be worth paying a little more to lower the excess and raise the cover limit.

Read more: Best places to see the Northern Lights

Car Hire – annual excess cover

Couple driving towards snow-capped mountains - travel insurance, is it worth it?

If you hire cars on holiday more than once a year, get an annual excess cover. Many car rental companies charge a hefty amount to waive any excess (as much as €20/day depending on factors such as location). Cut your costs right back by taking out annual excess cover for as little as €50 a year for travelling in Europe, and €60 worldwide.

Read more: The 5 best road trips in Ireland

Top Tips on Travel Insurance

  1. Shop around (obviously!) to find the best travel insurance and scrutinise the policy. The big differences tend to be in the amounts of excess you’ll need to pay in the event of a claim. It may be worth paying more a little more to lower or eliminate your excess.
  2. Double-check you are covered for your activities. Some more risky activities won’t be covered, so check the details on bungee jumping, canyoning, glacier walking etc.
  3. Ensure you declare pre-existing medical conditions or you may invalidate your cover.
  4. Check whether or not you need vaccinations or boosters for the country you are visiting. If you are not sure, go to your GP who will advise you. If you fail to get the right jabs and contract a preventable disease, your policy could be invalidated.
  5. EU citizens travelling within the EU can get a European Health Insurance Card to benefit from free or heavily discounted medical cover abroad. You can apply online and it’s very quick and easy.
  6. If you take prescription medicines, get a copy of it in case of emergency. Also, check that the country you are going to does not list your medication as a restricted drug.
  7. If you need any pressing dental work, get it done before you travel.
  8. Take a decent medical kit containing rehydrating powders in case of stomach upsets, antiseptic and antihistamine for bites. If travelling to really remote places, then take a pack including sterilised syringes and a transfusion kit.
  9. If you are seriously allergic to anything, consider wearing an identity bracelet or chain to announce the fact. Failing that, keep a note inside your wallet which explains the allergy.
  10. Take spare glasses or a good supply of contact lenses if your eyesight is poor.
Traveller exploring an iceberg

Read more: 10 of the best mountains in Ireland for activities

*Revised November 2019. Prices correct at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.

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