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Planning Retirement Online

Travel Insurance - Read that Small Print!                  July 2008


A recent report from Age Concern shows that three quarters of British holidaymakers do not check the terms and conditions of their travel insurance.

Frankly I am not surprised: the print is tiny; the meaning is usually hidden in a mist of complex professional terminology and they usually go on for pages and pages.

But now Age Concern says we should be... well, concerned. They say holidaymakers who assume they are covered for cancellation or curtailment of their holiday, travel delay, loss of personal luggage, medical expenses and personal liability (insurance which covers you in case you cause an accident abroad) can find themselves in expensive and traumatic situations abroad.

Currently 15% of Britons use travel insurance that they get free with other financial products, for example, credit cards or health insurance. The Association of British Insurers states: “Some credit card providers may offer some elements of travel insurance as part of their product, but cover may be limited.” Not taking out complete cover can be particularly problematic, and very expensive, for older people if medical expenses incurred whilst abroad are not included in their policy.

Age Concern is urging everyone going overseas this summer to make sure they read the terms and conditions of their travel insurance policies to ensure that they don’t end up out of pocket should the worst occur.

Antony Osborne from Age Concern Insurance Services says: “Our research shows just how many people don’t think to check the details of their travel policy before going on holiday and highlights the very good reasons why everyone should do so. Having comprehensive travel cover is so important for holidaymakers - it provides financial security in case the holiday doesn’t go to plan for whatever reason.”

Age Concern offers some tips when booking your travel insurance:

Always check the cover - travel insurance is sold at varying levels. Check carefully to see exactly what you’re covered for, a good insurance policy will cover you for cancelling or cutting a trip short.
Check whether your insurance covers any activities you're planning and also what the maximum age is under the terms of the policy. Many companies only cover those under 65.
Shop around to find a good price and the right product rather than opting to travel without cover.
Cheaper policies will usually have less cover – for some the price seems most important, but is it worth the initial saving?
Consider annual multi-trip insurance if you make several trips a year – you could save time and money.
Ensure your policy will refund the full cost of your holiday and pay out if you need to cancel or cut short a trip because you fall ill. Check the cover includes, for example, pre-paid expenses such as excursions and extra costs incurred to get home.

If the terms and conditions are simply impossibly to understand, take the time to call the insurance provider and ask to speak to a customer liaison officer. Someone will be able to explain in plain terms exactly what is covered and what risks still remain.

Results from the Age Concern survey included:

• 15% of those surveyed get their travel insurance free with other financial services
• 26% of those surveyed book their travel insurance through price comparison sites
• 75% of those surveyed do not read the policy wording of every travel insurance policy they buy
• 50% of those surveyed say that the cost of the policy is most important to them when buying travel insurance
• 49% of those surveyed say that what the policy covers is most important to them when buying travel insurance
• 56% of those surveyed have been on holiday without travel insurance




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