Get the timing right, when buying your travel insurance

Timing is an important factor in making sure that your travel insurance policy is valid, and also in making sure that you get the best value-for-money out of it.  Here are some pointers to make sure that your travel insurance does do the job that it’s intended to do, after you have invested your precious time in researching which policy is right for you, and your hard-earned cash in purchasing it:

Don’t leave it till you arrive at the airport to take out travel insurance!

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Whilst your policy may still be valid (as long as you have taken it out before you go through passport control), it’s not ideal to leave it till the last minute to arrange something as important as your travel insurance. You could be pre-occupied, and make a mistake filling in your online application, struggle to find internet connection or find yourself sorting a last-minute problem that means your travel insurance gets forgotten. It’s always advisable to print out and take with you, your insurance certificate with your unique policy reference number on it (as a minimum), and this is obviously a lot easier to do in the comfort of your own home.

If you leave it this late (or the day before you  leave the UK)  to take out travel insurance, you are also not making the most of all of your policy benefits, as your cancellation cover starts as soon as you purchase a policy (not the day the policy starts ).  As soon as you pay for flights, accommodation and pre-booked excursions, you should get travel insurance in place, as you are then running a financial risk. If you are unable to travel as planned e.g. you go for a run, trip over, break a couple of bones and your doctor says you’re unable to fly, then you could claim under your insurance, for trip costs that you’ve incurred, and aren’t able to recover from the airline, accommodation or excursion provider. You can take a look at all of our Cancellation benefits within the policy wording document of your choice.

Taking out travel insurance, is the most important thing, of course, but by leaving it so close to your departure, you are risking being unable to claim under cancellation if something unexpected does happen to affect your travel plans.

So, in a nutshell, the earlier you purchase your travel insurance (up to a year before you actually travel), then the more protection you get in terms of cancellation cover, at no extra cost…

Don’t leave it till you’ve actually left the UK, to take out travel insurance!!

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Our policies (in common with policies offered by the majority of UK travel insurers) aren’t valid if you are already away from the UK when they are taken out. Your policy needs to start from the day you leave the UK, and end when you actually arrive back in the UK, for it to be valid (apart from our one-way policies!). If you’re already away from the UK, and decide that you do want to take out travel insurance, then you will need to seek out a more specialist insurer such as World Nomads.

Don’t leave it too late to declare your pre-existing medical condition

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The cover which reimburses you for unexpected medical expenses, whilst you’re away, does not extend to covering costs associated with treating a flare-up of a pre-existing medical condition that you are already aware of before leaving the UK. See the questions in relation to these, to see if you would be classed as having a pre-existing medical condition. The exception to this, is if you have rung our Medical Screening line, declared your condition/s and paid the additional premium quoted (if necessary). The ideal time to ring and declare your pre-existing medical condition, is after you’ve received a quote for your travel insurance (and decided which policy to opt for) and you can then find out the combined price (if applicable – there isn’t always a charge) for both your travel insurance and the top up in cover to extend to your declared conditions.

Unfortunately, if you overlook making this declaration, it is then too late to ring and do it once your policy has already started and you’re away from the UK. This process needs to be done whilst you’re still here, to avoid problems if and when you come to making a claim in relation to a known medical condition that you are suffering from/or have done in the past.

Don’t leave it too late to extend your travel insurance policy

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Travel insurance should always be taken out for the entire time that you intend to be away from the UK. If a claim arises, then you may be required to provide evidence to corroborate the end date you’ve chosen, this could be a return flight ticket, a visa expiry date or evidence of a University placement when you get back to the UK. If your plans change, and you get the chance to stay away for longer, then you must get in touch with your travel insurer to see if they can offer an extension. This may depend on a number of things, such as: Will you be travelling for less than the maximum trip duration? and Can you prove that you intend to be back in the UK at the end of your extension?

You unfortunately wont be able to extend your policy, with Go Walkabout,  if the end date has already passed.  Your policy needs to still be valid, and any additional cost to extend, paid, before your policy expires. If not, you wont be able to extend it, and you wont be able to take out a new policy, as you’re already away from the UK.

The best tip, is to get in touch as soon as your plans change, so that there isn’t a false expectation that you will be back in the UK by your original end date, as this may cause problems if a claim arises. Your travel insurance policy should always be an accurate reflection of how long you are travelling for, where you are going, and what activities you are doing.

If you decide to travel outside of your selected region of cover, or become tempted to do a sport or leisure activity that you’re not covered for, you will need to arrange an extension BEFORE you do the activity, or travel to a different place.

Similarly, if you get offered a chance to top up your income whilst you’re away, but you’re not sure whether the job would be covered as standard, it never hurts to ask. Many policies will cover standard backpacker-type jobs such as bar, cafe, admin or retail work, but may not cover what is seen as riskier forms of work.

Don’t set up a policy when you’ve only been back in the UK for a few weeks after a long period of time away 

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If you’re a committed and regular traveller, who only returns to the UK for a brief pit-stop, or you have a holiday home abroad, and regularly spend many months there, you need to make sure that a new policy that you buy, will be valid.

For our policies to be valid, you need to be a UK resident, registered with a UK GP, who has also been physically present in the UK for at least 6 of the last 12 months. This doesn’t have to be a consecutive 6 months, but the times you’ve been back in the UK should add up to 6 months out of the last 12, before you travel away again. If this isn’t the case, then the majority of UK insurers will not be able to offer a valid policy. Again, you will need to look at a more specialist insurer such as World Nomads, who can be more flexible in this regard.

It may seem a bit ironic that frequent travellers are unable to take out a new and valid travel insurance policy in this instance, but it is a common residency requirement, and one that can trip people up, if they don’t look into the prerequisites of buying a valid policy.

These criteria apply to Go Walkabout policies in February 2017. It is important to always read the current policy wording information relating to the policy you’re interested in, and this will vary according to which travel insurance provider you take a policy out with.

Here at Go Walkabout, we pride ourselves on the clarity and simplicity of buying a policy direct from our website, but we also pride ourselves on offering great customer service and advice if you give us a ring in the office on 01424 223964. If you’d like more advice about any of the points raised in this article, or would like a quote for your individual travel plans, please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Don’t just take out word for how good our customer service is, you can read our genuine customer reviews here.

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