6 traps to avoid if you’re buying family travel insurance

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If you’re buying travel insurance and you’re pregnant or you’re travelling with your family, watch out for big differences in the cover on offer from policies. Some won’t cover children over the age of 16, and some will expect a fit to fly note if you travel in the late stages of pregnancy.

1. Are you covered for travel in the late stages of pregnancy?

If you’re going on holiday whilst you’re pregnant, airlines generally won’t let you fly after the 36th week of pregnancy, and insurers won’t cover air travel beyond this.

SAVVY TIP: Most airlines have a similar policy. BA, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic are among those that won’t allow pregnant women to fly after the end of the 36th week or after the end of 32nd week with a multiple pregnancy.

EasyJet won’t let women fly after the end of the 35th week, or after the end of the 32nd week if expecting more than one baby. Monarch and Flybe won’t let women fly after the end of the 34th week of pregnancy.

Before 36 weeks or if you’re not flying: most insurance policies will cover pregnant women as long as they don’t travel against medical advice.

SAVVY TIP: Some insurers (and airlines) will ask for a ‘fit to fly’ letter if you are travelling in the later stages of pregnancy, which is normally after the 28th week. A fit to fly letter can cost up to £40 and must be provided by a GP or midwife.

2. Check the level of pregnancy cover

You can’t make a claim for medical costs of normal childbirth or because your holiday plans have changed, but you will normally be covered for the costs of medical treatment if there are complications.

SAVVY TIP: Check what counts as ‘premature birth’ as some insurers have a much earlier cut-off date than others. For example InsureandGo and the Post Office list premature birth as being eight weeks before the due date, (or 16 weeks if you are having more than one baby).

3. Find out what counts as a ‘child’ on a family policy

If you’re holidaying with your family and that includes older children, be aware that some insurers take the view that a child becomes and adult when they are 16 (including Aviva) whereas others will insure someone as a child until they are 23, as long as they are in full time education (such as PJ Hayman).

SAVVY TIP: The cut-off age is typically 18. Some insurers, such as World First, there is no limit to the amount of children on a policy, as long as the parents are the legal guardians and they all reside together. InsureandGo insures children under 18 free of charge but charges those over 18 adult rates. Aviva’s family policy will cover up to nine people and doesn’t have a limit of two adults.

4. Make sure your child is insured if they are travelling unaccompanied

60% of the 10 travel insurers we contacted said they wouldn’t insure a child travelling on their own at all. However a number of airlines will let children travel alone — in some cases — as young as five.

SAVVY TIP: BA will let children between 6-11 travel alone, but they must be booked onto their Solo Flyer service. Ryanair insists that children under 16 are accompanied by someone over 16. EasyJet says that under 14s should be accompanied by someone over 14, Virgin Atlantic accepts children over 5 travelling on their own and Monarch says that under 16’s must be accompanied. Flybe says that children between 5 and 11 can travel unaccompanied but must be dropped off and met at the airport (fair enough!).

5. Check the excess levels

The excess is the first part of a claim payout that’s deducted and the excess levels vary widely on travel insurance policies. But some companies will cap the excess level on family policies whereas others will not. If the excess is capped and, for example, four people make a claim for lost luggage, it could be a substantial amount of money (£100, or 4x £25 is not unusual).

6. Check what counts as ‘family’

Cancellation cover is useful if you have to cancel your holiday because of the death or serious illness of a close relative. Many insurers agree about what counts as a ‘close relative’, according to price comparison site GoCompare, and the list will normally include parents in law, step children, foster and adopted children as well as what insurers call ‘common law partner’. There’s no such thing as a common law partner, but they normally mean someone who has been living with their partner, sometimes for a minimum time.

SAVVY TIP: If you’re going on holiday with someone who’s not classed as a close family member, and you have to cancel because they fall ill, this isn’t a problem as you are insured for illness or death of a travelling companion. But if you are holidaying on your own and your boyfriend/girlfriend etc falls ill before you leave and so you decide to cancel, you will not be able to claim if they aren’t classed as a close relative by your insurer.

Related articles:

How to complain about a holiday you’re not happy with

Using your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get free or cut price medical treatment in Europe

Ten tips on getting the right travel insurance for less

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