Foreign travel insurance (2023)

If you travel internationally you should buy appropriate travel insurance before you go. If you already have a travel insurance policy, check what cover it provides for coronavirus-related events, including medical treatment and travel disruption, and any planned activities such as adventure sports. If you are choosing a new policy, make sure you check how it covers these issues.

If you do not have appropriate insurance before you travel, you could be liable for emergency expenses, including medical treatment, which may cost thousands of pounds.

For example:

Situation Cost
If you fall in Spain and break your leg, you will need hospital treatment and flights £15, 000
If you have a quad bike accident in Greece, and you need surgery and flights back to the UK £30, 000
If you have a stomach bug or infection treated in a hospital in the USA and need new return flights £100, 000

You should buy your travel insurance as soon as possible after booking your trip. Read the small print, and familiarise yourself with any exclusion clauses for the policy.

When you travel, make sure you take your insurance policy details with you, including the policy number and your insurer’s emergency assistance telephone number. Share your policy details with people you’re travelling with and friends or family at home, in case they need to contact your insurance company on your behalf.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) represents over 200 insurance companies. Read ABI’s advice on travel insurance, including how COVID-19 can affect it, and their guide on choosing the right travel insurance policy.

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In addition to making sure you have appropriate insurance, you should check and sign up to travel advice for your destination.

What to consider when you buy travel insurance for you and your family

  • emergency treatment and hospital bills can be expensive. Check whether your policy covers treatment in public or private hospitals
  • emergency transport, such as an ambulance, is often charged separately to other medical expenses, and emergency travel home on medical grounds can also be expensive
  • pre-existing medical conditions: declare existing conditions or pending treatment or tests so that you are covered if anyone gets ill during your trip. Failing to declare something may invalidate your travel insurance
  • all activities you may undertake on holiday, such as sports or adventure tourism (you may need specialist insurance for some activities). Also consider all the places you intend to visit, even if you are in transit, in case anyone needs emergency treatment in another country
  • cruises generally require an additional level of cover because it is more difficult to get to hospital for treatment. Check the booking conditions of the operator you plan to sail with
  • repatriation costs if you or a family member die abroad
  • getting home after medical treatment if you cannot use your original ticket
  • reasonable costs for a family member or friend to stay with you, or travel out to accompany you home, if required
  • 24-hour assistance helplines to offer support and advice about appropriate treatment
  • COVID 19 cover for if you or family members cannot return home because you/they test positive for COVID during your travel. Check your insurance covers additional costs such as alternative flights, accommodation and COVID tests. You should also check your insurance provides cover if you cannot reach your final destination during transit due to COVID-19
  • within Europe, some insurers may waive any excess on medical treatment if you use a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Check the terms of your policy or contact your insurer to see if this is the case. EHIC and GHIC allow you to access state-provided medically necessary healthcare within the EU and Switzerland on the same terms as residents of these countries. Note that EHIC and GHIC are not alternatives to travel insurance as they do not cover any private medical healthcare costs, repatriation or additional costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts. Find out more about the EHIC and GHIC, including how to apply for one free of charge
  • ATOL is a consumer protection scheme for air holidays and flights, managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Some insurance policies do not provide cover for when airlines or suppliers go out of business. Choose an ATOL-protected holiday or a travel insurance policy that includes airline or supplier failure cover

Policy exclusions

Check how an insurance policy covers:

  • alcohol and drugs: most travel insurance policies do not cover events that happen after you have drunk excessive alcohol or taken recreational drugs or other substances
  • high risk destinations: many travel insurance policies will not cover travel to a high risk destination where the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel or all travel. Check your policy wording and the relevant country travel advice pages before booking your trip and buying insurance
  • mental health conditions: some policies may exclude cover for treatment related to a pre-existing mental health condition. For more guidance see foreign travel advice for people with mental health issues
  • age restrictions: check whether there are any age-related restrictions if you are buying an annual policy. The Money Advice Service provides guidance on how to choose the right level of cover, get the best deal, and make a travel insurance claim. It also has specific guidance for travellers over the age of 65 or with pre-existing medical conditions
  • sports such as bungee jumping, jet skiing, winter sports or skydiving: these are not usually included in standard policies. Use of quad bikes and hire of mopeds is also usually not covered
  • driving overseas: check Driving abroad. If you’re hiring a car, check what cover the hire company provides. If you are driving your own vehicle, check your motor insurance policy to see what it covers
  • terrorist acts: most policies offer only limited cover for terrorist acts. As a minimum, make sure your policy covers you for emergency medical expenses and travel home if you are caught up in a terrorist attack. Some travel insurers offer policy add-ons to provide additional cover if there is a terrorist attack in your destination. This may include cancellation cover, if your destination is affected by a terrorist attack before your trip and you decide you no longer wish to travel
  • other incidents: some policies only offer limited cover for claims related to or caused by a natural disaster (such as an earthquake or tropical cyclone) or civil unrest. You may also not be covered for some claims that arise from an incident (such as strikes or other industrial action) that was known publicly when you booked your trip and/or bought your travel insurance policy

Insurance for extended periods of travel

‘Long-stay’ travel insurance can cover extended periods of continuous travel. Check carefully the maximum duration allowed in any policy you consider buying to ensure that it meets your needs.

Make sure that the entire policy meets your needs, including specific activities and work (paid or unpaid) you may undertake.

Insurance if you live abroad or go for work or study

Travel insurance is not intended for permanent residence abroad. If you live overseas, or you’re planning to move to a different country to live, work or study, you should consider your insurance needs carefully. Local law may require you to have medical insurance, including as part of a visa application.

Read the healthcare guidance in the Living in guide for the country where you live to ensure you have the right healthcare arrangements for your circumstances.

You can buy private medical insurance for UK expatriates. You can also buy insurance from local providers overseas. You should always check policies carefully, including seeing whether you could transfer medical cover if you re-locate to other countries in future.

Support for British nationals abroad

Support for British Nationals Abroad explains how the FCDO can provide support to British nationals if things go wrong abroad.

Published 22 March 2013
Last updated 3 December 2021 +show all updates


  1. Reviewed and updated guidance in full.

  2. Updated guidance on using an EHIC or GHIC to access healthcare in Switzerland.

  3. Updated to reflect new rules for travelling to amber list countries.

  4. Updated COVID-19 section on new rules for international travel from 17 May.

  5. Updated to reflect current COVID-19 travel guidance

  6. New link to the declaration form for international travel (for England), from 8 March.

  7. Edited grey box at top of page to provide further information on requirements coming into affect from 15 February

  8. From 15 February you will need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel if you arrive in the UK from countries on the travel ban list.

  9. Updated with new requirements coming into effect from 4am on 18 January 2021.

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  10. Updated with information on pre-departure testing for everyone travelling into England and Scotland.

  11. Updated to reflect latest UK COVID-19 restrictions.

  12. Updated the section on travel to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, to reflect changes from 1 January 2021.

  13. Updated ‘Travel to the EU’ section to reflect that UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will still be accepted in EU countries, with different guidance for people travelling to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland from 1 January 2021.

  14. Updated COVID-19 travel guidance

  15. Updated to reflect the latest Tier-based COVID-19 rules for England

  16. Updated to reflect the 5 November national restrictions for England relating to travel

  17. Updated EU travel section with information on EHIC validity

  18. New information on making sure your travel insurance covers you for coronavirus-related events

  19. Update to contents including addition of new segments; travel insurance after starting travel or changing your plans, making a travel insurance claim, other financial protection and if you’re not covered.

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  20. Added information on financial protection of package holidays.

  21. Information on the use of European Health Insurance cards (EHIC) in the event of a no deal added to the EU Exit update section

  22. EU Exit update with advice on checking insurance coverage when travelling to Europe after the UK leaves the EU.

  23. Content and format changes

  24. Inclusion of Association of Travel Insurance Intermediaries (ATII) information.

  25. Updated information on travel insurance

  26. First published.

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What does travel insurance not cover? ›

According to Allianz Global Assistance, a travel insurance provider, "Trip cancellations and trip interruptions due to known, foreseeable, or expected events, epidemics, or fear of travel are generally not covered."

Why would a travel insurance claim be denied? ›

While the vast majority of legitimate travel-insurance claims are paid without any problem, if your legitimate claim was rejected due to missing documents, clerical error, misunderstanding, lost documents or due to a gray area, then you should file an appeal to try to get your claim approved.

What is usually covered by travel insurance? ›

The comprehensive policy usually covers delays, cancellation due to sickness or death, lost luggage and some emergency medical costs.

Can I get a full refund with travel insurance? ›

Trip cancellation is a standard inclusion on most comprehensive travel insurance policies. It provides up to a full refund of your prepaid, nonrefundable costs if you need to cancel a trip for a specific, unforeseen covered reason.

Is it OK to travel without travel insurance? ›

If you don't have travel insurance you will have to pay out of your own pocket to deal with a problem while you're away. Or you may lose money if you have to cancel a trip and can't get your money back. This could cost you thousands of pounds.

Is it worth getting travel protection? ›

Though you may pay 5 to 10 percent of your trip cost for travel insurance, travel insurance is often worth the investment for its potential to help reimburse you for hundreds of thousands of dollars of covered travel-related expenses like emergency evacuation, medical bills, and costs related to trip cancellation and ...

How do I win a travel insurance claim? ›

To increase your chances of a prompt travel insurance reimbursement, take these steps to make the claims process smoother.
  1. Review your travel insurance policy terms. ...
  2. Gather documentation. ...
  3. Submit your claim with documentation. ...
  4. Trip cancellation claim documentation. ...
  5. Trip delay claim documentation.
Nov 11, 2022

What conditions affect travel insurance? ›

A list of some of the most common pre-existing medical conditions that you need to disclose when buying travel insurance includes:
  • Heart conditions. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are very common.
  • Diabetes. ...
  • Asthma and respiratory problems. ...
  • Chronic illnesses. ...
  • Joint and bone inflammation. ...
  • Mental health issues.

What is a reasonable amount to pay for travel insurance? ›

Travel insurance can cost anywhere between $2 and $6 a day depending on your age, travel destination, cover level and if you have any pre-existing health conditions. Updated Jun 6, 2022 .

What are three types of travel insurance? ›

Basically, three types of travel insurance coverage exist: medical insurance, cancellation/interruption insurance, and luggage insurance.

What are three benefits travel insurance? ›

Benefits of Travel Insurance
  • Medical expenses and emergency assistance: ...
  • Personal possessions and luggage: ...
  • Personal accident and activity cover: ...
  • Cancellation cover: ...
  • Legal expenses:

Does travel insurance cover me Cancelling? ›

Most travel insurance policies do include cancellation cover, which will pay out in the event you have to cancel your holiday because of certain unforeseen circumstances, such as an illness or injury that prevents you from travelling.

Does travel insurance cover you straight away? ›

The policy start date needs to be that of your actual trip, but the cover starts right away. The same usually applies to specialist types of travel insurance like cruise cover and winter sports cover for activities like skiing and snowboarding. Cover usually starts on these policies the moment you buy them, too.

Will travel insurance cover cancellation due to coronavirus? ›

Contact your insurer and ask if coronavirus is an excluded foreseeable event. If you purchased a policy recently and decide you don't want it, some insurers have a free-look provision (usually 10 to 30 days, depending on the policy). If you cancel within the specified timeframe, you will receive a full refund.

How many people travel without travel insurance? ›

Research carried out by ABTA before the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that 22% of holidaymakers travelled completely uninsured and 27% went without the correct cover. The second group included people who didn't declare a pre-existing medical condition or took part in activities that they weren't covered for.

What happens if you fall ill abroad? ›

Your insurance policy should have given you an international number that you can use to get in touch with your insurers. Your call will usually be dealt with by an assistance company which is appointed by the insurer to arrange the necessary medical treatment.

Who is best travel insurance company? ›

Best Travel Insurance Companies of 2023
  • Best Overall: Travelex.
  • Runner-Up, Best Overall: Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Best Value: InsureMyTrip.
  • Most Comprehensive Coverage: World Nomads.
  • Best for Seniors: HTH Travel Insurance.
  • Best for Cruises: Nationwide.
  • Best for Medical Coverage: GeoBlue.

When should you buy your travel insurance? ›

Travel insurance is something you should take out as soon as you've booked your holiday. This is because it's possible you might have to cancel your trip after booking but before you've actually left. For example: You may get injured or fall too ill to travel.

Do credit cards have trip insurance? ›

Generally speaking, travel rewards credit cards will typically include some travel insurance. Higher-tier travel credit cards, including some of the best metal credit cards, usually have comprehensive travel insurance that provides both travel medical and trip protection.

How late can you buy travel insurance? ›

When Is It Too Late to Buy Travel Insurance? In general, you can buy coverage any time before the date of your trip. That said, it's always best to buy coverage as soon as you make your reservations.

What should I say on a travel insurance claim? ›

Documentation you will need to support your claim
  1. receipts and itemized bills for all expenses (trip cancellation)
  2. unused tickets, proof of payments (trip cancellation)
  3. explanation of diagnosis from doctor (medical claims) or “Physician's Statement”
  4. police reports (stolen baggage or car collisions)
Oct 17, 2021

How do travel insurance companies verify claims? ›

Like any other insurance provider, a travel insurance provider will need to verify that the claim you are making is legitimate. Verifying a claim typically means checking the facts. Some of the documents you may need to support your claim include: Receipts and itemized bills for expenses (for canceled trips)

Do travel insurance check medical records? ›

When you buy a travel insurance policy, it's normal procedure for your insurance provider to ask you for medical information. The information supplied by you will be used by underwriters to work out the level of risk.

What medical conditions do you have to declare? ›

Some of the medical conditions you need to declare for travel insurance quotes include:
  • Respiratory conditions.
  • Heart, liver, kidney, brain or circulatory disease or damage,
  • Diabetes,
  • Strokes or central nervous system disorders.
  • Terminal illnesses.
Oct 12, 2022

Do I have to declare all medical conditions for travel insurance? ›

You'll need to declare all existing medical conditions when buying travel insurance. If you're not sure whether to declare, it's important not to assume it's covered. Always ask your insurance provider, otherwise you risk any claim you need to make being rejected.

Can insurance be denied for pre existing conditions? ›

Health insurers can no longer charge more or deny coverage to you or your child because of a pre-existing health condition like asthma, diabetes, or cancer, as well as pregnancy. They cannot limit benefits for that condition either.

How much should international travel insurance cost? ›

While travel insurance costs vary, the average is somewhere between 4-12% of your total trip cost*. If you're on the fence, then consider this: an emergency situation can cost tens of thousands of dollars, but the insurance plan might be a fraction of your trip cost.

How do I know how much travel insurance I need? ›

Travel insurance can vary a lot depending on how much coverage you're getting and how expensive your trip is. CoverTrip advises its customers that travel insurance plans cost between 4 to 10% of the total trip cost. So if you're spending $5,000 on a European tour, your insurance could be anywhere from $200 to $500.

Does travel insurance get more expensive closer to departure? ›

Unlike other aspects of your travel experience like airfares or hotel-room rates, the price of travel insurance doesn't increase the closer you get to your travel date. There's no financial penalty if you wait to buy travel insurance (except for those bonus coverages, of course).

What are the 3 most important insurance? ›

The Bottom Line

Most experts agree that life, health, long-term disability, and auto insurance are the four types of insurance you must have.

What are the two basic types of travel insurance? ›

There are two main types of travel insurance: trip protection plans and travel medical plans.

Is it cheaper to buy travel insurance separately? ›

Cost – if you take more than one holiday a year, a single policy can work out more expensive per trip compared to an annual policy.

Does visa cover travel insurance? ›

A notable perk of carrying a Visa Infinite card is that most have added travel insurance coverage. Travel insurance will vary based on what credit card issuer you choose. Some offer a wider range in coverage, while others will offer a higher degree of coverage for each type of insurance.

What happens if my flight is Cancelled without insurance? ›

You have no obligation to take the flight and the airline has to give you a full refund for the flight. You'll be owed a full refund for any connecting or return flights which were part of the same booking. You'll be provided a flight back to the airport you departed from if you're part way through a journey.

Does travel insurance cover if I cancel? ›

Travel insurance reimburses the cost of nonrefundable travel plans if you need to cancel your flight for a covered reason. To receive reimbursement, you must file a claim and submit supporting documentation that validates your eligibility to receive reimbursement.

Does travel insurance cover all medical bills? ›

Almost all travel insurance policies will cover medical expenses as standard, although cover levels and restrictions will differ between insurers. So, when purchasing your travel insurance policy, ensure the medical expenses cover is what you would expect it to be for the trip you are going on and your destination.

Does travel insurance cover cancellation due to Covid? ›

Further, since the pandemic, most travel insurance policies will have exclusions for cancellation cover as a result of COVID-19, as it is known risk, and travel insurance is designed and priced to cover risks unforeseen when the policy is taken out.

What insurance covers the cost of a Cancelled trip? ›

Trip interruption insurance covers extra costs if you need to return home sooner or later than planned and reimburses you for non-refundable and/or non-transferable portions of unused, prepaid travel arrangements.


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