Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Do you need travel insurance? Do you not? Find out if you can give it a miss in this guide...
Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Ahh travel insurance… it feels like a con, doesn’t it? Do you need it? Do you not? Is it worth it? Is it not? Can you risk it? Can you not? 

To tell you the truth, I actually used to give it a miss. 

That extra £20, £30 or £50 it cost me felt like a) a huge con and b) an extra bit of money that I could spend elsewhere.

And on the odd times where I felt like I did need it, I’d search on a comparison site and grab the cheapest insurance I could find…

Oh man, did I come to regret that.

Lost phone in Spain (not insured), stolen wallet and money in Prague (I wasn’t insured for this on the policy I bought) and let’s just say that early 2020 (correct, I still hadn’t learned), was not a fun time with each poorly insured cancellation due to COVID-19.

Needless to say I have now learned my lesson.

But even now, after all of that, do I recommend buying travel insurance every time you travel?

Believe it or not, no…

Below are a couple of examples for when you definitely should purchase travel insurance, but there are also a couple of times where you might want to consider skipping it altogether.

Three travel insurance risks to consider

For me, deciding whether or not you need travel insurance is all about risk. 

And by risk I mean weighing up these three elements; financial risk, health risk and personal risk:

  • Financial risk

Are you happy to risk losing the money you spent if you need to cancel your trip? Are you happy knowing that the company you’ve booked your flights and hotel with might go bust (not too uncommon these days), leaving you with no money and no holiday? And are you happy to replace any lost or stolen belongings?

  • Health risk

Is where you’re going safe? Will your health insurance cover you if you get injured on your trip? Is it expensive to get medical help where you’re going?

  • Personal risk

How much of a risk taker are you? Would you prefer peace of mind? Or are you happy risking it, saving yourself a little bit of money and placing a bet that you’ll be okay health wise and possession wise?

Chart that shows the three risks that need to be weighed up when buying travel insurance: Financial, health and personal

Weigh each of these factors up and you’ll start to have a pretty good idea for whether or not you need to buy travel insurance.

Of course it’s not always that simple, so here’s a couple of situations for when I recommend buying travel insurance and when I personally give it a miss…

When you definitely need travel insurance

1. Going abroad

Nowadays whenever I leave the UK to travel abroad, I buy travel insurance. 

In a sense I got lucky when I lost my phone and when I got my wallet stolen because whilst it was annoying having to replace them, it could have been so much worse. 

For example, If I’d have got injured and needed serious medical attention whilst out there, it could have cost me £1000’s.

Thankfully I didn’t, but I’m not willing to risk it again. 

If you go abroad, grab travel insurance just for the peace of mind. 

2. Expensive trips

This one’s pretty much a given, but if you’ve spent a small fortune on your trip, whether it’s at home or abroad, it’s worth investing a couple of pennies more towards buying travel insurance. 

Don’t risk losing £10,000 for the sake of £100. 

As we saw with COVID-19, literally anything can happen and cause cancellation after cancellation after cancellation, potentially costing you thousands. 

3. Travelling somewhere unsafe

If you’re travelling somewhere unsafe or maybe even somewhere that has a completely different culture to you and so has different foods that you’re not used to; potentially leaving you feeling sick (personal mistake – I’m a fussy eater 🙃), definitely grab travel insurance. 

In some countries it is ridiculously expensive to get even basic healthcare, especially so if you’re a foreigner. 

When you don't need travel insurance

Cool – so that’s when I buy travel insurance… 

Now, when don’t I buy it?

The only times I don’t buy travel insurance is when I go on inexpensive domestic trips or when I can make free cancellations… 

1. Cheap domestic trips

Whenever I go for a cheap trip in the UK somewhere, spending no more than £350, I tend not to buy travel insurance. 

I’m covered healthcare wise, there’s no risk of flights being cancelled because I’ll more often than not drive myself around and money-wise it’s not too much of a risk.

Don’t get me wrong, losing £350 is far from ideal, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take to save me £50 or however much on something I’m unlikely to use. 

You might be different to me though and unwilling to gamble, so it’s your call on this one.

2. Free cancellations

Post COVID-19 there are more and more companies in the travel industry (be it airlines, hotels, tour companies etc.) offering free cancellations and exchanges as an incentive to get your custom. 

Whenever I see an option for free cancellation and I’m travelling somewhere in the UK, I tend not to buy travel insurance because I can claim my money back if I ever need to cancel. 

As I said before however, I do buy travel insurance if I go abroad, even if there are free cancellations (although when I buy the travel insurance might change – I might buy it just before I leave instead). 

Where to buy travel insurance from

So that’s when I buy travel insurance… but where you should you buy your travel insurance from?

Let’s start with what’s covered…

Most reputable travel insurers will include the following in their policies:

  • Medical expenses and cover for getting you home
  • Emergency evacuation cover
  • Cancellation cover (be it through your own doing or the travel company’s doing, e.g. flights cancelled so you can’t get to your accommodation, thus you need to cancel)
  • Cover for lost or damaged items (usually there is a limit to how much you can claim, but you can increase this on some policies)
  • Financial cover in the event of a company going bust (sadly all too common these days)

The keyword here is ‘reputable’. 

If you’re going to buy travel insurance, go for a reputable insurer and not an unheard of cheap one because frankly the cheaper policies usually (not all the time of course) aren’t worth the paper they’re written on – as I’ve sadly found out a few times.
I like to use World Nomads because they’re relatively affordable and they include all of the basics above and more. 

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