The Biggest Mistake Made When Buying Travel Insurance

Whether you have a weekend away planned or you’ve booked the trip of a lifetime, travel insurance is more of add-on to your bookings than a priority. It’s easy to just buy the cheapest insurance to ‘make sure you’re covered’, but do you actually know what your insurance does for you? And what happens if you have to cancel your trip?

The biggest mistake people will make when buying travel insurance is not knowing what they are covered for, particularly when it comes to trip cancellation insurance.

What is Trip Cancellation Insurance?

Trip cancellation insurance is purchased as part of your travel insurance, allowing you to make a claim if you have to cancel a trip. Most policies will reimburse up to 75% of your costs, should you meet all the conditions. The conditions are where most people trip up because even if you’ve bought trip cancellation insurance, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be reimbursed. Why is this? Well, you have to meet a list of conditions (which are laid out for you when you initially buy it), however you don’t expect to have to cancel your vacation so it’s easy to skim over or disregard some of the nitty-gritty details.

There are plenty of situations which standard Trip Cancellation insurance won’t cover, for example:

  • If you’ve broken up with your boyfriend or girlfriend
  • If your dog has to go to the vet
  • If you have to work overtime
  • If there is political unrest in the country you are travelling to
  • If a storm or other natural incident has been predicted before you travel

Other reasons why you won’t get your travel insurance claim

The regulations get stricter, though. Even if you have a valid reason for not travelling, your claim might still be denied if you don’t comply with the insurance company’s rules about how to claim. You’ll be expected to provide specific evidence in order to get any money. Sounds like a lot of hassle, doesn’t it? Read through our checklist below to find out why a travel insurance claim might be dismissed, although be aware that this is just a general guide. You should always check with your company and re-read the terms and conditions before you buy so you fully understand what you are paying for.

Did you:

  • Not see a doctor?

    If you are unwell and unable to travel, insurance companies will deny your claim if you don’t have evidence of this. Some need a doctor’s confirmation within 72 hours of your trip cancellation; some require it before you cancel so the doctor can concur that you’re too ill to travel. One of the major reasons for this is that the travel insurance company want to check that it isn’t related to an illness or condition you had before you bought your insurance. Make sure you know when you need to get a GP’s confirmation before you make the claim or cancellation as you don’t want a doctor’s note to be the reason you miss out on thousands of pounds.

  • Forget or miss out any evidence?

    It may feel excessive at the time to keep all your receipts, invoices and bills but if you are missing even one piece of evidence, your claim is binned. Luckily, most bills are sent to our email addresses which means we can scroll back through and find them, but it might be worth creating a folder in your inbox to make sure they’re easy to access if you need them.

  • Buy travel insurance when a weather warning had already been issued?

    This one might not sound like it makes much sense but what it basically means is that if you heard there is a weather warning for the place you’re travelling to and then purchase insurance, your claim isn’t valid. The only way to get around this is to buy your travel insurance well in advance so if there is a big tropical storm, you’re covered. It’s also important to bear in mind that if the reason you are claiming is because your flight has been delayed or cancelled due to the weather, the delay has to be 24 hours or more from the original arrival time.

  • Cancel your trip within 24 hours of the delay?

    Speaking of the 24-hour rule, travel insurance companies are pretty much unanimous in their policy that if it’s been less than 24 hours of delayed or cancelled travel, then you don’t have a claim. It’s considered an interruption rather than a cancellation, which might seem pretty unreasonable after waiting all day in an airport departures lounge.

  • Make a claim because the travel company went bankrupt?

    If the airline, hotel, rail company or travel provider goes bankrupt, some insurance plans won’t cover this. A recent example is Primera Air, which filed for bankruptcy on 1 October 2018, and left thousands of people stranded across the world. Some of them will never get compensation for it because it’s usually only premium plans which will cover an airline going out of business. This is due to the fact that a lot of people would be making claims at the same time and if they were to pay every single person, they wouldn’t have a business (although this still doesn’t make it fair).


Should I buy 'Cancel For Any Reason' insurance?

'Cancel For Any Reason' insurance does what it says on the tin - if you need to cancel your trip, whether it’s due to work commitments, financial difficulties, or if you just change your mind. It does cost more but if you think you’re likely to change plans, then it’s definitely the more sensible option. Some insurance providers will sell this as an additional part of their basic travel cover, whereas others might have a separate policy. Carefully consider all your options before committing to one plan or another; start off with this chart of different policies on to see what different companies will offer you.


What if my claim is still rejected?

You still have another option if you find yourself without any compensation from your travel insurance provider. If you list your travel plans on, you can sell your non-refundable holiday booking to someone else who is looking to save money on last-minute vacations. It also means that if you have only bought a standard or basic insurance plan, you don't need to worry about work commitments or other issues leaving you out of pocket. 


  • Insurance
Posted 15 October 2018

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