With at least two “cover-all” opt-outs for insurance companies, just what are you paying Travel insurance for? Here are 10 reasons to pay more attention to the travel insurance small print

Excessive alcohol consumption, failure to take recommended inoculations, reckless or illegal behaviour and travel paid for using loyalty schemes could all cost you dear

Gocompare.com Travel Insurance is warning people to read the conditions and exclusions in travel insurance small print to ensure that they buy the right cover at the right price and don’t unwittingly invalidate their cover.

Exclusions and conditions vary between policies but common ones include claims made as a result of excessive alcohol consumption, fighting (except in self-defence) and taking part in activities insurers deem ‘hazardous’ such as jet skiing, quad biking or diving.

Common conditions and exclusions

1 Pre-existing medical conditions

Failure to disclose an existing medical condition (including mental, nervous or emotional disorders).

2 Preventable or avoidable medical treatment/conditions

Failure to take prescribed medication or travelling against medical advice. Claims resulting from a tropical disease where the recommended inoculations and/or recommended medication for the country visited have not been taken; self-inflicted injuries; treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

3 Claims arising as a result of ‘excessive alcohol consumption’

A common ‘catch-all’ – incidents occurring after you’ve consumed ‘an excessive amount’ of alcohol; claims arising from alcohol or drug abuse or solvent abuse.

4 Sports, adventurous activities

Standard policies typically exclude winter sports, jet skiing, bungee jumping, quad biking, rugby, paragliding, martial arts, cycling touring, diving (solo or beyond a certain depth), riding mopeds or motorcycles. Competitive and professional activities are excluded.

Where an activity is covered, you’ll be required to follow any safety precautions and conditions. If you’re planning an adventurous you may need a specialist policy.

5 Taking reasonable precautions

Another ‘catch-all’ – insurers expect you to take ‘all reasonable precautions to avoid injury, illness, disease, loss, theft or damage and take all reasonable steps to safeguard your property from loss or damage and to recover property lost or stolen’.

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6 Reckless or illegal behaviour, including fighting and the unauthorised use of swimming pools

Claims arising from reckless behaviour or from taking unnecessary risks, e.g. ‘you sitting on any balcony railing; jumping from or climbing on or over any balcony railing, ledge or wall, regardless of its height, other than Artificial Wall Climbing listed in the Leisure Activities section’.

Some insurers preclude ‘any claim arising from the unauthorised use of a swimming pool outside the specified times of opening.’

7 Visiting volatile destinations

Cover for travel to destinations against Foreign & Commonwealth Office and/or World Health Organisation advice. Cover for war, civil commotion and terrorism. Last year the FCO warned LGBT visitors that visiting Russia could be potentially problematic given the Country’s anti-gay law.

8 Travel paid for using loyalty schemes or points

Some policies exclude ‘any claim for unused travel or accommodation arranged by using air miles, loyalty or points based ownership schemes, timeshares or similar promotions; management fees, maintenance costs or exchange fees associated with loyalty or points based ownership schemes, timeshares or similar promotions’.

9 Visas and other documents

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Failing to get the visa or other documentation you require to visit your chosen destination.

10 Work: paid, unpaid and voluntary

Undertaking paid or unpaid manual work or physical labour of any kind. If you’re planning to work abroad, including voluntary charity work or you are undertaking a business trip, then you will need to choose a policy which specifically covers these activities.

“Travel insurance is designed to protect you against the unforeseen, not careless or reckless behaviour. Insurers generally require you to take reasonable care of yourself to guard against injury and illness and to safeguard your belongings from loss or damage. So, for example, you won’t be able to claim for a stolen wallet or iPhone left under your towel while you went for a swim in the hotel pool or claim back the cost of medical treatment you needed as a result of injuries sustained from a fall while drunk. Likewise, insurers are unlikely to pick up the bill for medical treatment for a tropical disease where you’ve not had the recommended vaccinations or completed any recommended course of medication a course of anti-malarial tablets for the country you are visiting.” Caroline Lloyd from Gocompare.com Travel Insurance commented, “When you buy travel insurance, take the time to read the small print, rather than waiting until you need to make a claim and finding out, too late, that you’re not covered. The policy wording will also contain details of the procedures and paperwork, such as police or medical reports, and helpline numbers which may be required to make a valid claim, so don’t forget to take a copy with you.”

“Medical cover is one of the most important elements of travel insurance because treatment abroad can run into thousands of pounds. So, on the application, be honest about your health – particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition, even if it’s mild and under control. If, while on holiday, you suffer a related illness without declaring an existing condition or any referrals or investigations you have received, there’s a good chance your claim will be rejected. While some insurers specifically exclude pre-existing conditions, there are specialist insurers who will cover you for even the most serious illnesses.

“Another common area of exclusions and conditions relates to activities which insurers consider adventurous or hazardous. These include a range of things from taking part in winter sports, jet skiing, bungee jumping, quad biking to riding mopeds or motorcycles. So, if you like a bit of a holiday adventure, you’ll need to make sure that all the things you want to do are covered and follow any required safety precautions and conditions outlined in the small print. Insurers do update these lists from time to time, so if you are worried about a specific activity our advice would be to contact your insurer directly.”

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