Travel insurance is designed to protect you financially if you fall ill or have an accident, your belongings are lost, stolen, or damaged, or if your holiday is cancelled.

However, there are certain clauses in travel insurance small print you need to be aware of. If you don’t check them carefully, you could find any claim you make is refused – even though you thought you were covered. We’ve listed five things to watch out for.

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1. Certain countries may not be covered by worldwide policies

If you have a worldwide policy, but are visiting America, don’t assume you’ll automatically be covered. In some instances, you may need to buy separate cover for America and Canada.

Similarly, while some insurers include countries like Egypt in their European cover, others don’t, so it’s not a one-size-fits-all system.

We’ve even heard of instances where Spain is left out of European policies altogether and travellers have needed to pay slightly more to have it included.

As with anything to do with insurance, always check the small print to make sure you have the cover for the countries you’re visiting.

If you’re looking for travel insurance, we have partnered with Staysure to provide you with first class travel insurance, tailored to suit your needs. There’s no upper age limit and they’ll cover most pre-existing medical conditions. You can also take advantage of their 20% discount, just quote RLESS at checkout.

Discount applies to the base premium of the policy only and not to medical screening costs or add-ons where relevant. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.

2. Your claim might be rejected if you’ve had too many drinks

Most of us will have an alcoholic drink or two while we’re on holiday, but if something happens when you’re under the influence and you need to make a claim on your insurance your insurer might refuse to pay out.

If, for example, you take a fall while on a walking holiday in Spain, usually you’d be able to use your insurance to claim for medical costs, but if you’ve been enjoying a few too many sangrias before the walk, this could affect your claim.

Insurers don’t have a blanket limit for alcohol intake and the rules vary depending on the insurance provider, the policy, and the individual situation. This is because everyone has different tolerance levels. A 50-year old dad, for example, might have a different tolerance to his 18-year old son.

On the whole, however, if you’ve had an accident and the amount of alcohol you had consumed at the time could have affected your judgement, it could make an impact on the claim.

As with anything to do with insurance, always check your policy documents carefully to make sure you have the cover for the countries you’re visiting. 

3. Not all activities are covered as standard

If you’re thinking of doing any excursions or activities whilst you’re on holiday, it’s always worth double checking they’re covered by your insurance policy.

Some activities won’t be included, and if you take part in them and have an accident then you won’t be able to claim on your travel insurance.

This generally applies to more adventurous sports, such as jet-skiing and sky-diving, but even off-piste skiing might not be covered, even if you’ve taken out winter-sports cover. Find out more about ski insurance in our guide How to buy the right ski insurance policy. Depending on which sport or activity you’re planning to participate in, you might be able to buy standalone cover if it’s not included on your standard insurance.

Not wearing the proper equipment may also invalidate a claim with some insurers, such as not wearing a helmet when cycling or on a moped.

Get 20% off your travel insurance quote from Staysure

We have teamed up with Staysure to provide you with first class travel insurance, tailored to suit your needs. You can also take advantage of our 20% discount, just quote RLESS at checkout.

Discount applies to the base premium of the policy only and not to medical screening costs or add-ons where relevant. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.

Get a quote

4. Private hospital treatment isn’t always covered

If you have an accident when you’re away and you need medical treatment, in some cases you may be given an option of visiting a state-run or a private hospital. If it’s an emergency and there’s no option this shouldn’t be a problem and your insurer should pay out for your treatment costs.

However, if it’s something non-urgent and you’ve chosen a private hospital, in some cases an insurer might reject your claim.

To be certain you’re covered, call your provider and see what its rules are to make sure you can claim back your medical costs.

Similarly if you have a free GHIC – or Global Health Insurance Card – this will give you access to treatment at the same price as a local person would pay, but it’s not a replacement for insurance. Find out more about how the GHIC works in our guide Everything you need to know about the Global Health Insurance Card.

5. Planning a cruise? You may not be protected

A cruise holiday is a normal holiday so it’ll be covered by standard travel insurance right? Wrong. In most cases cruise trips aren’t covered on a standard policy and you need to buy a standalone policy instead.

This is because these types of holidays are generally seen as more risky than a standard break. For a start they tend to last longer and you may be visiting several different countries. The fact that you’re on the cruise also means you’re further away from a hospital and the cost will be higher if you need to be airlifted somewhere.

Most cruise policies will also include things like if you have to miss paid-for activities because you were unwell, or if you’re delayed and have to stay at a stop-off point longer because there is bad weather and the boat can’t sail.

If you want to find out more about travel insurance, read our guides Travel Insurance for over 50s – Everything you need to know and Do I need travel insurance?

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Get 20% off your travel insurance quote from Staysure

We have teamed up with Staysure to provide you with first class travel insurance, tailored to suit your needs. You can also take advantage of our 20% discount, just quote RLESS at checkout.

‡Discount applies to the base premium of the policy only and not to medical screening costs or add-ons where relevant. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.

Get a quote