January is the year's busiest summer holiday booking month, yet travel insurance is something that is overlooked by far too many people every year. And it doesn't only cover you whilst you are actually on holiday.

Booking your travel insurance at the same time as you book you holiday is the best option; it means that you can get your money back if you have to cancel the holiday due to injury, illness or if another unforeseen emergency crops up. It also covers you for;

– Lost or stolen baggage
– Lost or stolen cash and personal belongings
– Flight delays or cancellations

Whilst you are on holiday the insurance will cover you for any adverse circumstances including; theft, illness or even having to return home early. Going on holiday without travel insurance is going totally unprotected and leaves you open to some nasty bills if things do go wrong.

Types of Insurance Available

Whatever type of holiday you're planning, it's vitally important that your insurance covers the risks associated with it. The following is a brief explanation of the different types available.

Backpacker travel insurance

Backpacker travel insurance is perfect for those on GAP years travelling for an extended period of time across multiple countries.

Single trip insurance
This is insurance that you individually book for each trip that you go on; ideal for one or two holidays in a year, but multi-trip insurance can work out cheaper if you plan on three or more.

Multi-trip insurance
If you plan on doing a lot of travelling to different places, then this may be your best choice. There are limits on the length of each trip, however so be sure to check that you fall within the guidelines. Be aware, though that if you are only travelling twice then it may be cheaper to buy two separate policies; multi-trip is perfect for three or more holidays a year.

Family/couple insurance
Nine times out of ten it is cheaper to book a multiple person insurance rather than get separate ones for you and your partner or family. Always hedge your bets by researching the cost separately and together to ensure that you get the cheapest deals. It is also worth noting that a policy for a grandparent with pre-existing medical conditions, you and your children will probably be more expensive as a family policy; by getting separate insurance for the grandparent and a family policy for the rest of you, you can save a lot of money.

Winter sports insurance
Winter sports cover isn't often included in basic insurance packages, but is vital for anyone wishing to spend anytime getting out into the snow. Be aware that if you are going skiing, then there are a few things that you need to be aware of;

– Helmets – not wearing one could void your insurance, even if the establishment doesn't insist on it.
– You may only be covered when you are actually on the slope, so if an accident occurs in your free time at the bar, then you're on your own.
– you are not always covered in snow parks, so if you plan on visiting one with the kids, then check this before you leave.

The afore mentioned points can be added as extra's, so always read the fine print to avoid these loop holes.

Common Terms with Travel Insurance Explained

Coverage Period: The time that you are actually covered on the policy
Effective Date: The date your cover actually begins; usually the date you buy and pay for the policy.
Financial Default: A tour operator or cruise going out of business with or without bankruptcy.
Flight Accident Coverage: Coverage for accidental loss whilst travelling on a plane.
Inclement Weather:  Weather which is so severe that your trip is cancelled or delayed.
Renters Collision: Cover for vandalism or a crash in a rented car.
Trip cost: Only includes prepaid expenses, not anything that is anticipated, but not yet paid.
Trip delay: A delay which lasts for more than 5 hours

What to watch out for

Alcohol

If your holiday is going to include drinking, and let's face it, for many of us it does, you may not be covered at all for insurance events that occur whilst you are intoxicated. This is especially important for those on 18-30 style package holidays.

Flying home

Backpacker or long stay insurance often ends if you return home early. So popping back to the UK for a birthday, or job interview etc…could leave you uninsured when you resume your holiday. Check the policy carefully though, as some do allow at least one trip back during the cover period.

Multi-trip limits

On the face of it multi-trip insurance sounds great for those who travel often, but beware. Most multi-trip policies limit the time you can be away to 30 consecutive days. If you are planning to be away for longer than that, then consider a long stay or backpacker policy.

Travel Insurance with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Setting up the best travel insurance policy when you have a list of pre-existing medical conditions can be a very scary thought, but you must always make sure that you are 100% truthful. Being truthful and paying a little more is better than missing some bits out, paying for insurance and not being covered when something goes wrong.

If you have searched the insurance world high and low and still have excessive quotes coming back then, at your discretion, you can always ask the insurer to not include some conditions. This is a risky tactic and a last resort, but may be the only way that you can get cover.

There are a few specialist insurers out there who deal particularly with anyone with a pre-existing medical conditions. These insurers are geared up to find the cheapest available policy and will understand your needs better than a generic insurer; they are often missed off of comparison sites, so make sure you look them up and contact them directly for a quote.

Another option when trying to minimalise the cost is to contact a broker to do the work for you. The British insurers association have a helpline and can guide you through the process and give you great pointers to finding cheaper insurance with pre-existing medical conditions.

Our top tips for getting the best travel insurance prices

a. Remember that it is often sales people that you are dealing with when you call to book travel insurance and just because a policy costs more, doesn't always mean that it covers more. For instance; some insurers will offer you up to £10 million worth of cover, but the largest pay out ever recorded was £2 million and the average compensation in 2013 was £930. So, don't be fooled into buying extra's that you really don't need.

b. Always make sure that you have your free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). This is a very basic cover, but means that whilst in and European country, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Norway you will be treated as a local with EHIC registered doctors. This means that is the locals get free healthcare, then you will too.

c. It is also always worth seeing if you are already covered by your bank before you go. Even if this is the case, you will still need to read through the terms and conditions to ensure that it covers every base for the type of trip that you are taking; if not, take out a separate policy that does.

d. Always consider the excess on the policy offered. If you have personal items or cash stolen that amounts to £200 and the excess on your policy is £200, then you're going to be hit hard not receive a pay out; meaning tat your insurance is pointless. Different policies offer different excess amounts, so it is always worth shopping around and taking these into account before you buy.

Where to Start

Finding the best travel insurance for your needs may seem like a daunting task with all of the companies that are out there, but price comparison sites like moneysupermarket.com can help simplify the task and ensure that you get the best cover at the best price, wherever you may be setting off to.

Whatever policy you choose, have a great holiday!

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