What is travel insurance?

12th January 2019by Joanna White

In the simplest terms, travel insurance is a type of insurance that will cover you in the event of accidents, incidents, costs and losses when travelling.

There are a vast variety of different types of travel insurance, all of which will cover you for different periods of time, as well as for different occurrences.

Wherever you’re travelling to, whether it be a short break in Europe, or somewhere further afield, you can obtain a travel insurance policy that suits your needs.

Types of travel insurance

As you can see below, there are several different types of travel insurance that you’ll need to look out for. Depending on your own personal needs, preferences and exactly when and where you’re going, you’ll need a different type of travel insurance policy.

Single trip

Single trip travel insurance does exactly what it says on the tin; it will provide you with cover for one single trip.

Many insurance providers will have a limit on the length of time that counts as a single trip. Some may offer cover for just a few days, whereas some other will cover a ‘single trip’ of up to 90 days.

Single trip cover is ideal if you only plan on taking one break per year; otherwise you’ll require annual travel insurance if you plan to embark on more trips.

Annual multi trip

Annual multi-trip is generally more expensive than single trip cover, but it will also cover you for a longer period and may even offer you more benefits.

If you travel multiple times a year, then you’ll want annual multi-trip travel insurance instead of single trip cover as it will work out much more cost-effective for you.

Cruise cover

Cruise travel insurance isn’t usually something that’s included in your typical travel insurance policy and so must be purchased as an extra add-on.

It will cover you for things that your standard insurance policy will not. This could include the likes of missed port departure, cancellations, delayed or cancelled excursions and cabin confinement.

It’s important to purchase cruise cover as an add-on if you plan on embarking on a cruise to ensure that you’re fully covered alongside your regular travel insurance policy.

Cover for pre-existing medical conditions

Oftentimes, travel insurance policies won’t cover you for pre-existing medical conditions, which means you may need to look out for a policy that will ensure you’re covered.

Failing that, you can try to negotiate with your current provider to make sure you’re covered for past and current illnesses and conditions that you suffer from.

Backpacking insurance

Backpacking insurance is an ideal investment to make if you plan on travelling for an extended period, or you’re planning to take a gap year.

It will cover you for a longer period time, across numerous locations around the world, providing that you’ve told your insurance provider all the necessary details to ensure you’re covered everywhere.

Winter sports cover

Similarly to cruise cover, winter sports cover may need to be purchased as an optional add-on to your current policy.

If you’re going to destinations that are specifically winter sports based (such as skiing, snowboarding or sledging) then you must have a policy that will cover you in the event of accidents, cover for your equipment as well as cover for piste closures or disruptions.

‘Staycation’ insurance

While not as common as other types of travel insurance, there is also something called staycation travel insurance. This offers cover if you’re going to be travelling somewhere within the UK.

You probably won’t be covered for as much as you would be with a regular travel insurance policy; as you won’t require cover for the likes of cancelled or delayed flights.

However, you will be able to obtain cover for cancelled accommodation, lost or stolen valuables while travelling and certain cancelled transport for the likes of trains or buses.

What it covers you for

Travel insurance will cover you for a whole manner of different things and will likely differ with each policy provider.

Below, you can find a list of the most common things that your travel insurance policy will cover you for.

  • Holiday cancellations – if your train, flight or cruise ship is suddenly cancelled due to unforeseen events
  • Delays – this applies to the likes of flight delays, as well as delayed baggage causing you inconvenience due to missing luggage
  • Your belongings – travel insurance will cover your personal belongings, luggage and important documents and cash up to a certain amount in the event they are lost or stolen
  • Medical costs, emergencies and treatment – this point will likely vary a lot between different providers, but many insurance policies will offer you cover for medical costs, treatments and medical emergencies

Some providers will also cover you for other things, but you may have to purchase them as optional added extras to your current policy.

The cost of travel insurance

The cost of travel insurance depends on numerous factors including your age, where you’re travelling to and for how long, amongst many others.

When taking out a travel insurance policy, it’s imperative that you’re entirely honest with the provider so that they can correctly provide you with a policy that will be suitable for your needs, as well as your budget.

Factors that influence the cost of travel insurance

  • Where you’re travelling to
  • How long you’re going for
  • Your age
  • Your health conditions
  • The level of cover that you require
  • Any activities you plan on doing while away

Exclusions within travel insurance policies

Unfortunately, travel insurance doesn’t cover you for absolutely everything and so there may be a few exclusions that you might face when taking out your travel insurance policy. You might want to check the foreign travel checklist.

  • If you changed your mind about a certain trip – if you decide to come home early for no reason, then you won’t be able to claim on your insurance for the accommodation or activities that you’ve missed out on
  • If you leave your belongings unattended
  • Medical conditions that you didn’t declare before your trip
  • Reckless behaviour – if you suffer an accident or incident while away due to “reckless” behaviour such as being drunk or under the influence of drugs, then you likely won’t be able to make a claim for it
  • Activities that are of high risk such as water sports or mountain climbing

Of course, some travel insurance providers may cover you for some of the above, but most providers won’t. It’s incredibly important that you thoroughly check your travel insurance policy before you travel so you know exactly what you’ll be covered for while you’re away. M&S Travel Insurance offers a range of travel insurance that will suit both you and your family for all types of trips.

What you need to know when purchasing travel insurance

Purchasing travel insurance can be a long, arduous and time-consuming thing to do, so you must ensure that you get it right first time.

Thankfully, we’ve put together a few tips of the things to look out for when purchasing travel insurance to make your decision much easier.

Check the maximum cover

One important thing to look out for when purchasing a travel insurance policy is the maximum cover that you can expect from your policy.

There will likely be a maximum amount of cover in place for the likes of medical expenses, cancellations and personal money. In order to avoid disappointment and potentially having to face paying some of the fees yourself, you should always remember to check the maximum amount you’ll be covered for within your policy.

Legal fees

Another thing you should remember to check when buying travel insurance is the legal fees.

For example, you may require legal fee cover if you experience an accident that wasn’t your fault while on holiday.


Cover for cancellations is another thing you should bear in mind when looking to purchase travel insurance. Make sure you check the maximum amount that you’ll be covered for in the event of cancellations.

Cover for cash limits

This involves cover for the cash that you carry with you while you’re travelling. It’s important not to carry cash exceeding the maximum amount laid out by your insurance provider, otherwise you won’t be able to claim for it if it becomes lost or stolen.

Cover for medical treatments and expenses

Make sure to check about the policies regarding cover for medical treatments and expenses within your travel insurance policy as there is often a recommended minimum amount that you should be covered for so that you’re protected in the event of a medical emergency.

Conclusion – what is travel insurance?

Travel insurance covers you in the event of an accident, incident or emergency while travelling. You’ll be covered for any costs incurred in the event of your trip being cancelled, delayed, missing or lost baggage and legal costs, plus much more.

Different insurance providers will offer slightly different policies, depending on a vast range of factors such as where you’re travelling to, how long for and any medical conditions you have.

It’s important to conduct thorough research when looking to purchase travel insurance to ensure that you get the best policy for you and your money.