Cheap travel insurance
Protect yourself for less. Compare 15+ brands and see how much you could save on travel insurance.
Are you on a tight budget but still want to make sure you’re covered for the basics, such as medical and personal liability, while travelling?
Get travel insurance that covers what you want without breaking the bank.
What should you look for in a budget travel insurance policy?
If you’re looking for cheap travel insurance, you shouldn’t be expecting much in the way of coverage, but at the bare minimum, you should have cover for the following:
- Overseas emergency medical expenses. Many entry-level policies are also known as medical-only travel insurance policies, so you can usually expect a high level of cover for overseas emergency medical and hospital expenses. You’ll also be able to access 24/7 emergency assistance and cover for in-hospital expenses, medical evacuation and repatriation to the UK if required.
- Personal liability. If you accidentally cause death or bodily injury to someone else or damage their property, budget travel insurance policies can cover your legal liability.
Some cheap policies only offer these two benefits, but some insurers will also add limited cover for the following:
- Luggage and personal belongings. This benefit covers the cost of repairing or replacing lost, stolen or damaged luggage and personal items.
- Cancellation costs. If you’re forced to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, such as the death of a close relative, budget travel insurance may cover your cancellation fees and lost deposits.
- Accidental death and permanent disability. Your policy may also pay a lump-sum benefit if you become permanently disabled or die as a result of an accident during your trip.
Most insurers offer at least two levels of cover – basic and comprehensive. As the name suggests, basic cover only provides benefits for essential items, including overseas medical expenses and personal liability. As a result, it’s relatively inexpensive.
On the flipside, comprehensive travel insurance not only offers a much wider range of benefits but also higher cover limits – usually for not a whole lot more. In addition to the features of a basic policy, it also covers things like your luggage, travel delay, rental vehicle insurance excess and the theft of cash and travel documents.
So should I consider upgrading to a higher level of cover?
In the battle to find the cheapest* travel insurance available, sometimes it’s easy to overlook what you’re actually getting for your money. In many cases, you may be surprised to find that you actually get much better value for money by upgrading to a higher level of cover. By spending just a little more on your premium, you may be able to access a much broader range of benefits.
While a comprehensive policy offers a much wider range of benefits and substantially higher cover limits, it may only be marginally more expensive than the basic policy.
Comparing travel insurance can be a confusing business. Make sure you consider the following when searching for affordable cover:
- What’s covered. Check the table of benefits to find out when your policy will cover you. Are there any situations that you need cover for but aren’t included? For example, will you be covered if you engage in high-risk adventure activities like scuba diving or skydiving?
- Cover limits. Take a look at the maximum amount the insurer will pay for each section of cover. How does this compare to the limits imposed by other insurers? As well as overall cover limits, also check for any sub-limits that may apply to individual benefits. For example, while your insurer may cover up to £10,000 for luggage and personal items, it may only pay a maximum of £500 for any one item. If you’re taking an expensive laptop or camera on your trip, you may need to purchase additional cover.
- What’s not covered. Next, read the list of general exclusions to make sure you’re aware of the situations when no cover is available. This will prevent any nasty surprises come claims time.
- Excess payable. OK, so you’ve found a policy with a very attractive premium, but remember that if you have to claim on your policy, you’ll need to pay an excess. Some insurers suck in unwitting customers with cheap premiums but then sting them with a big out-of-pocket excess when they make a claim, so check the excess amount before buying a policy.
- The underwriter. Rather than focusing on the brand that sells travel insurance, check to see who underwrites the policy. Is your insurance backed by a reputable company?
- Claims process and customer support. Read your policy thoroughly to find out what you need to do to make a claim. Read independent customer reviews to see whether the insurer handles claims efficiently, and check how easy it is to contact the provider if you ever need assistance.
- Full disclosure. If you’re worried about the impact your pre-existing medical condition will have on the cost of cover, it can be tempting to “forget” to mention that condition to the insurer. This is a big mistake – though your premium may be slightly cheaper, any claims that arise due to your condition will be refused and your policy may be cancelled.
- Price. OK, if you’re looking for cheap* travel insurance, this is obviously going to carry plenty of weight in your comparison. But don’t let your love for a bargain prevent you from getting adequate cover. Compare your options using the quote engine on this page, but make sure that the premium isn’t the only factor you consider when choosing a policy.
What won’t be covered by my policy?
Travel insurance isn’t designed to cover every possible event or incident that could turn your dream holiday into a nightmare, and there are a number of specific situations excluded from cover. You won’t be covered in the following situations:
- Your claim arises because you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Your claim is caused by a pre-existing medical condition
- You participate in high-risk adventure activities
- Your claim arises due to your own negligence – for example, if you leave your bag unattended in a public place and it’s stolen
- You break the law
- You travel against medical advice
- You ignore a travel advisory from the Home Office
It’s also important to remember that budget travel insurance policies tend to only provide cover for a few key risks and often have lower benefit limits than standard or comprehensive policies. With this in mind, never assume that something will be automatically covered by your policy.
What else should I know about low-cost policies?
Go through this checklist before you commit to purchasing a basic plan:
- Check the policy covers activities you are participating in. Cheaper travel insurance policies normally cut back on cover in order to provide basic levels of cover. So, if you’re planning on participating in a risky activity on your trip such as skiing, chances are your budget travel insurance policy won’t cover it.
- Check the limits of cover. For example, first consider a comprehensive policy that has unlimited cover for medical and evacuation, but a sublimit of £100,000 for medical and evacuation expenses due to terrorism. Now, consider a budget travel insurance policy that has a limit of £50,000 for medical and evacuation but a sublimit of £15,000 for medical and evacuation expenses due to terrorism. Comparing both the limits and sublimits side-by-side helps you to see just where those savings are coming from with cheap* travel insurance policies.
- Check pre-existing conditions are covered. If you have an existing health condition, it is crucial to make sure that it is covered. You should disclose any existing health conditions to your insurance provider. It may be difficult to find cheap* travel insurance for health conditions as you will generally need to pay an additional premium if you want cover for that existing condition (if the insurer will actually cover the condition).
- Check the excess. One way insurers are able to offer cheap travel insurance is by having a higher excess.
- Check the definitions in each policy. A common trap to watch out for when comparing low-cost travel insurance policies is to look at how events are defined by the insurer. Ideally, you should review the terms listed under the policy glossary.
Choosing a cheap policy without compromising on cover
When looking for a bargain on travel insurance, it’s easy to get wowed by the price and sign up without reading through the policy. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are trying to find cheap travel insurance:
Decide what you must have in your travel insurance policy
Asking yourself these questions will help you figure out what you’ll need from your cover:
- Do you need trip cancellation cover? You might be more worried about losing your stuff while on holiday than you are about having to unexpectedly cancel your trip. If you’re fairly certain you won’t be cancelling (or can live with it if you do), a basic policy might be for you.
- Are you renting a car? If you need to make a claim on a car you’re renting, your out-of-pocket expenses could be sky high, even with the insurance that comes with the car. Rental car excess cover is handy to have in those situations, but it doesn’t usually come with budget policies.
- Are you travelling minimally? If you are travelling overseas but aren’t carrying a lot of stuff, medical-only cover might be enough.
- Are you doing adventure sports? Most budget policies and even many comprehensive policies don’t cover adventure sports like skydiving, scuba diving or skiing. For that, you’ll either need to go with a specialty adventure insurer, or you’ll have to add this cover onto your policy separately. Most insurers offer it.
- Are you going on a cruise? Same as above. A standard policy won’t cover you while you’re at sea. Some, but not all comprehensive policies will. Be prepared to add “cruise cover” to whatever policy you choose.
- Are you carrying ultra-expensive items? Most policies won’t provide enough cover for uber-expensive items like certain pieces of jewellery, mountain bikes, golf clubs, some electronics and so on. To cover these, you would need to add cover for “high-value” items to whatever policy you choose.
- Do you travel often? If you travel several times throughout the year, you should consider an annual multi-trip policy that will cover you on unlimited trips in one 12-month period. Just be aware that each individual trip can only be so long, depending on the terms.
- From the remaining policies, choose the cheapest one. This is the easy part. Now that you have a few policies that each offer the level of protection you’re comfortable with, all you have to do is choose the least expensive one. Just give the policy one last read to make sure there’s nothing you missed, check a few online reviews to see if others have had good experiences and if you’re ready, go ahead and pull the trigger.
Below are some further steps to take when comparing different budget travel insurance policies.
- Compare your options. This is the easiest way to find affordable travel insurance that covers everything you need. By comparing quotes and policy features across a range of insurers, you’ll not only be able to find the cheapest travel insurance but, more importantly, the policy that offers the best bang for your buck.
- Only pay for cover you need. If you don’t want comprehensive cover for a broad range of benefits, don’t pay for it. Similarly, if you don’t need additional cover for skiing, golf or adventure activities, don’t add them to your policy.
- Buy online. Many travel insurers provide a premium discount to customers who buy their policies online rather than over the phone or in person.
- Don’t buy from your travel agent or airline. If you opt to buy cover from your airline or travel agent, you could pay as much as three times more for your policy than if you purchase directly from the insurer. This is because travel agents and airlines add their own hefty commissions on top of the cost of the policy.
- Look for promo codes. It’s always worth checking for the latest travel insurance coupon codes and special offers that can reduce the cost of your premium.
- Get a discount. From multi-policy discounts and loyalty discounts to discounted cover for members of certain organisations, you might be surprised just how much a discount can help you save. Keep an eye out for any special deals that could help you save.
- Consider a multi-trip policy. If you’re a frequent traveller, the cost of buying a separate insurance policy for each trip you take quickly adds up. That’s why it could be worth your while investing in annual travel insurance, which provides a high level of cover for all the trips you take during the entire year. If you take two or more trips every 12 months, annual multi-trip cover often works out to be much more affordable.
- Enjoy power in numbers. Travelling overseas with a friend or relative? Instead of buying cover separately, if you team up to buy a joint policy, the total cost will usually work out cheaper.
- Vary your excess. By selecting a higher excess amount should you need to make a claim, you can enjoy cheaper travel insurance premiums.
Tips on choosing discount travel insurance
Just in case you’re after that extra bit of savings, here are a few tips we’ve scraped together to help you out:
- Buy online. Many travel insurers provide a premium discount to customers who buy their policies online rather than over the phone or in person.
- Don’t buy from your travel agent or airline. This could cost you up to three times more. After all, the agent needs that fat commission check!
- Keep your eyes peeled for discount and promo codes. It’s not hard to locate all the best up-to-date coupon codes if you try hard enough.
- Enjoy power in numbers. Travelling overseas with a friend or relative? Instead of buying cover separately, you can team up to buy a joint policy and save money almost every time.
- Look for discounts within your network. Organisations people belong to will often have perks and you may find travel insurance deals floating around in there. See if your company, church, industry group or volunteer organisation has travel insurance partnerships you can take advantage of.
- Consider an annual multi-trip policy. If you’ll be taking two or more trips within a 12-month period, annual multi-trip cover often works out to be much more affordable than separate single-trip policies.
- Vary your excess and/or benefit limits. You can often reduce the price of your cover by increasing the excess or decreasing the benefit limits. Just make sure the reduced terms are worth the money saved.
Common cheap insurance traps to avoid
While cheaper travel insurance is better than no travel insurance at all, you still have to make sure the cover you do get is satisfactory and meets your needs. Policy conditions for what you are and are not covered for can be quite complex, so it is important to have an idea of what to look out for. Here are some things to look out for:
- Assuming that cheaper policies will cover trip interruptions. Many policies cover you for when your car breaks down on the way to catch your plane causing you to miss your flight. Cheaper travel insurance policies usually limit this clause to only cover you in the event of a breakdown of public transport.
- Assuming that the policy will cover missed connections. When you inadvertently miss a connecting flight, a cost is involved in buying another ticket and sometimes the need for overnight accommodation. Budget travel insurance does not usually cover you for such losses.
- Assuming that budget travel insurance will cover family emergencies (e.g. the passing of a close family member). The definition of “close relatives” can be different on a budget policy than that of the comprehensive travel insurance cover. An uncle or aunt becoming ill and causing you to have to change plans might not cut it with a cheaper travel insurance policy.
- Thinking of just the upfront cost. The cheaper types of policies usually make you pay an excess before the actual insurance is payable even if the event can be claimed. You will find that although you are still covered for many events, you will have to pay an excess that a more expensive policy may not have included.
- Expecting that pre-existing conditions are covered. The most common exclusion is for pre-existing medical conditions. If your illness or injury can be traced back to a pre-existing condition that was present before you made the claim, your claim will be declined unless it is automatically covered, or you have reported it to your insurer and been approved cover for it.
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