Whilst there’s a multitude of answers for this question, there are certain factors that will influence how much you’ll be asked to pay, no matter which travel insurance provider you get a quote with. Read on to get an insight into what factors can potentially affect the premium that you’re quoted. It is of course, a good idea to ‘shop around’ when buying a policy (taking into account the premium quoted and the cover available) to try and find a policy that’s a good-fit for you. It can seem impossible to find competitively-priced cover for your plans, if they are slightly out-of-the-ordinary, but travel insurance companies have different specialities and you can normally find someone to cover what you need, albeit there is normally an additional cost to pay. If you’re having trouble finding the right cover, you could try ringing BIBA (the British Insurance Brokers Association) as they have a consumer helpline where they can match your requirements with potential insurers. Their number is 0370 950 1790, and you can find out more about them, here.
Listed below, are some of the main factors that Underwriters take into account, when calculating ‘How much will my travel insurance cost me?’ :
With age, often comes the time and opportunities to fulfill your travel dreams – but you’ll also notice that your travel insurance premiums get more expensive too! People are living for longer now and medical science has made great strides, but generally, as we get older, our health can worsen, as our bodies succumb to years of wear and tear.
There are obviously exceptions to every rule, and lots of older people take great care of themselves to stay fit and healthy, but Underwriters are looking at the broad population in terms of claims data, when calculating travel insurance premiums.
Ultimately, there is an increased likelihood of an older person needing to claim on their policy due to ill health either before they travel, or whilst they’re away. This increased risk is offset by higher premiums quoted to older travellers -getting incrementally more expensive as you move into higher pricing categories.
Different insurers will have varying maximum age limits for taking out cover, and these can vary by area of travel – as the cost of medical treatment obviously varies, around the world. Specialist insurers offer cover to older travellers in the market, but you can pay higher premiums for big-brand names,rather than smaller companies, that can offer the same levels of cover for less.
Your Medical History
Travel insurance typically covers the cost of medical treatment or repatriation back to the UK due to ill-health, but you may be asked to pay an additional premium to cover any pre-existing medical conditions that you have – to reflect the additional risk, that one of these could crop up whilst away. Always check the medical screening questions of any travel insurer that you want to take cover out with, to see if you have a pre-existing medical condition or conditions, that requires you to undertake either an online or over-the-phone medical screening. This will involve answering questions about conditions that you either have currently (or had in the past, for certain conditions), medications that you take, and any tests that you have had recently, or are due to have.
Once you have done this, you will be informed whether the results of the medical screening process has indicated that cover can be offered, and additionally, whether there would be any additional charge for doing this.
There are occasions when policy Underwriters are unable to offer you a policy (either due to the severity of your condition or the fact that your condition isn’t fully diagnosed) because they calculate that the risk is too high, that you could potentially make a costly claim on your policy, or because they can’t fully assess the risks posed. This could be a cancellation claim, (if something happens before you travel), a claim for the cost of medical treatment or repatriation back to the UK, (if something happens whilst you’re away), or the cost of curtailing your trip (if you cut your trip short, due to a medical problem).
You sometimes have the option to exclude your pre-existing medical condition/s (although this isn’t always possible), but you must then be aware that no cover would be in place if anything connected to your pre-existing medical conditions, occurs either before or during your trip.
Although the additional premium can seem over-the-top (especially if you have had preventative surgery or take a certain medication as a precaution), claims data and medical statistics point to the fact that you’re more likely to claim for a medical issue – and this is reflected in the additional premium required to extend your cover.
Due to the nature of your pre-existing medical condition/s, you may find it hard to find a standard travel-insurance provider who is happy to offer cover (or the cost may be relatively high), but there are specialist medical-condition travel insurers who can potentially cover a wider range of medical conditions.
Money Saving Expert.com has some helpful advice relating to finding suitable travel insurance, for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Take a look here.
Where you’re going
The key benefit of having travel insurance, is obviously, medical cover, so the cost of your travel insurance will vary according to where you plan to travel – due to the varying costs of receiving medical treatment around the world. The cost is currently cheaper in Europe (due to the EHIC scheme where UK citizens are treated the same as local residents), as well as in Australia and New Zealand (where there is a similar reciprocal agreement for UK citizens). It’s a well-known fact that the costs of medical care are comparatively high in America, Canada and the Caribbean Islands. As there’s no state-funded medical care provided in these destinations, all medical care is private, and therefore more costly for Underwriters if a medical claim for treatment or repatriation occurs. Even if the majority of your time away from the UK is in another area i.e. Europe or Worldwide excluding USA, Canada and the Carribean, if you spend any time in America, Canada or the Caribbean, you may still need to choose this area when getting a quote. Underwriters may offer a gratuitous stopover period in another region – but again, this is also worth checking, if relevant. Taking all this into account, premiums for Europe tend to be the cheapest, followed by premiums for trips to Australia/New Zealand, and trips to USA, Canada and the Caribbean, being the most expensive.
Another factor that dictates the cost of your premium, is if you’re planning a trip to somewhere that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel, or all but essential travel to, due to the risks involved with travelling there. They can make this decision for a number of factors – including the risk of catching a disease, a terrorist threat or the threat of a natural disaster occurring.
If the area that you want to travel to, is shaded in red or orange on a destination map, then the majority of UK insurers won’t be able to offer valid cover (due to the increased risks that have been flagged by the FCO) and you’ll need to look at a more specialist insurer in order to be covered to travel to any of these areas, and this will usually result in an increased premium that you are asked to pay, in order to obtain this specialist high-risk cover. You can check the FCO advice by country, here.
Working whilst you’re away
An increasing number of long-term travellers are including either paid or voluntary work into their plans, typically to help fund their travels, or to help out a good cause overseas. Whilst a standard backpacker/gap-year travel insurance policy will often offer cover for low-risk types of work (such as office-work, retail, bar or cafe roles), you may find that you need to look at a more specialist policy to cover occupations outside of this criteria. All insurers will have their own stipulations regarding this, so it’s best to check in each instance – but the key thing is not to assume that work plans you have, will be covered.
From a travel-insurance Underwriter’s viewpoint, a trip that involves work, tends to put you in a riskier environment, than one that is purely a leisure trip. If you make sure that you take out a policy that will cover you at work (and also in your free-time), then you will have peace of mind that you’ll be covered if an accident arises during working hours – even if you do have to pay a bit more to make sure that this is the case.
Going on an ocean cruise
If any part of your trip away from the UK, involves an ocean voyage, this will usually result in a higher travel insurance premium. It may seem fairly low-risk, travelling between ports, and being well-fed and entertained, between-times, but Underwriters class a voyage as potentially more expensive in claims terms, due to the fact that you are out at sea, for much of the time.
If a passenger on a cruise ship becomes seriously unwell, they may need additional medical care than can be provided aboard ship, and this can result in the need for a medical evacuation from the boat to an appropriate facility on dry land – this is of course, a costly exercise.
Another risk factor is that contagious illnesses can easily spread between passengers on a cruise ship, or they can all become victims of food-poisoning for example, from the same source e.g. eating from the same on-ship buffet. This close proximity to others, increases the risks of travellers making a medical claim, which is also reflected in an increased premium.
As a cruise combines holiday transport, food, accommodation and sight-seeing in one (and often, to a luxurious standard), the costs of going on a cruise, can be higher than a standard holiday, so again, this is another factor to raise the premium quoted – as it exposes the policy Underwriters to higher cancellation or curtailment costs if a claim is made.
Additionally, if you pay to extend your policy with a ‘cruise extension’, then specific benefits are usually included, such as ‘missed port departure’ or ‘cabin confinement’ benefit, so again, these can potentially lead to more claim scenarios – so a higher premium is quoted at the outset.
Travelling for a longer time
Underwriters are fond of spreadsheets and statistical data, and it’s a truism that the longer you’re away from the UK, the more likely it is for a claim scenario to crop up. As travel-insurance Underwriters usually ask that you have a return-flight ticket in place, in order to take out a policy (and this isn’t usually possible for longer trips where the flights have yet to be scheduled) – you may need to look at a more specialist long-term travel insurer, to cover lengthier trips abroad. You are normally asked to pay a higher premium in respect to this increased flexibility, and also because it’s more likely that you’ll suffer a claims problem, the longer that you’re away.
It can be frustrating to pay more than you hoped, for your travel insurance, but ultimately, if a costly claim scenario arises, you’ll be glad that you invested in covering your travels – and you won’t be left in the nightmare scenario of being left high and dry financially, when a crisis has arisen.
‘How much will my travel insurance cost me?’
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