Your Money: The Right Policy Holiday Worries Will Leave Your in the Shade; Making Sure You Are Covered for the Summer Doesn't Only Mean Taking Care in the Sun. Travel and Health Insurance Are Also Vital. ADRIENNE McGILL Reports
Byline: Adrienne McGill
WHEN you're daydreaming about going on a summer holiday, the last thing you want to think about is waiting for hours in airports, becoming ill or sustaining a serious injury.
But all these things can and do happen on holiday, and if your travel insurance doesn't cover you for them - or you don't have any insurance at all - it could make the experience even worse.
Yet, an estimated 25 per cent of us go abroad without travel insurance, and a recent survey by Direct Line suggested that 8.5 million people in the UK could find themselves unable to claim if pre-existing medical conditions caused them to cancel their holiday or get ill while they were on it, because they hadn't been asked about them when taking the policy out.
Matthew Torrible, insurance advisor for Rough Guides, says it's absolutely vital to have travel insurance, and make sure it covers any potentially dangerous activities, such as paragliding or white-water rafting, that you are planning.
"The most important thing is that if you get ill without insurance you are going to have to pay private medical rates, and if you are going to be rescued it will cost you thousands of pounds," he says.
Among other things, a policy should also cover you if your baggage gets lost, have to cancel your holiday because of factors such as illness or redundancy, or are forced to stay extra nights because of industrial action affecting travel.
Already this summer we have seen strikes by European air traffic controllers and Spanish workers.
Confusion often arises around the E111, a form which entitles you to free or reduced-cost emergency health care in State hospitals within the European Economic Area.
John MacKenzie, assistant travel manager of the Association of British Insurers, explains: "The E111 is a useful and valuable thing to have, but it's not a substitute for travel insurance because it's unlikely to cover the full medical costs in most cases."
This is because free national health care in other countries is not necessarily as extensive as that available in Britain. Prescription charges can be more expensive and you may have to pay to see a doctor.
Tony Boorman, principal ombudsman for insurance at the Financial Ombudsman Service, says there are many misconceptions about travel insurance.
"The most significant problem is a misunderstanding of what it can and can't help with in terms of health claims," he says.
The commonest issue in this area is pre-existing medical conditions. If you haven't told the insurance salesman that you have such a condition and you have to cancel your holiday or become ill while abroad as a result of it, your insurance won't pay out.
If you do discuss it in advance they may agree to cover you for an additional premium, but the problem is that not all agents will ask you about it in the first place, even though they are obliged to by industry codes. …