Cover up

6th July 2007 at 01:00
Bikini, suncream and latest bestseller. You're all set for that holiday in Spain, but do you have the best travel insurance?

Alison Brace has it covered

Did you know a heart attack on holiday in Spain could set you back Pounds 35,000? According to the price comparison website, money supermarket.com, a car accident in South Africa could cost you pound;146,000 and a hip fracture in the US pound;22,531.

Let's face it, these are not the kind of figures you like to dwell on as you put the finishing touches to your summer holiday plans. But they are a good reminder of why you need to take out travel insurance before you set off. It might seem like a niggly extra on the holiday "to do" list but, if something were to happen, not having insurance could cripple you financially.

Research by the Alliance Leicester has shown we are spending pound;1.3 billion more than we need to on travel insurance. Why? Because we take the easy option and sign up to the travel agent's insurance offer as part of our holiday package. For example, a typical travel agent would charge more than pound;80 for a fortnight's cover for a family of four in Spain.

According to moneysupermarket.com, a policy with FlexiCover, with higher levels of cover, would cost you just pound;15. The savings would buy you more than a jug of sangria. Don't assume the cheapest insurance is the worst.

Check out the best deals available by using price comparison websites such as confused.com and moneysavingexpert.com. You only need to fill in your details once and the websites do the rest. When making your application, be honest about pre-existing medical conditions and the activities you intend to take part in while away otherwise you could default on any claim you have to make.

Likewise, your insurance will be invalid if you travel to a country deemed unsafe to visit. See the Foreign Office's website, www.fco.gov.uktravel, for advice.

"Obviously, those who enjoy naked, high-wire unicycling in Foreign Office black-listed territories will need specialist policies," says Martin Lewis of moneysavingexpert.com. However, he says, for most of us, cover terms do not vary excessively from policy to policy.

A good insurance deal should have such cover as pound;2 million for medical expenses, pound;1 million personal liability, pound;3,000 for cancellation, pound;1,500 for baggage and pound;250 for cash.

Consider taking out multi-trip cover if you are planning more than one foreign holiday over the coming year.

If there is a chance of you increasing your holiday time once you're abroad, take out adequate cover before you go: you can't extend the policy once you are there.

And if you're taking your car abroad, don't forget to check your car insurer's small print. Does your breakdown cover operate abroad?

Remember travel insurance buys you peace of mind. For a few pounds you can tick it off your list and enjoy your well-earned break

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