Families and pregnant women could be left without the travel cover they need if they don’t choose the right policy, or check the small print, says UK’s leading financial website for women SavvyWoman.co.uk.
Sarah Pennells, Editor of SavyyWoman, contacted 12[i] of the UK’s leading travel insurers and found wide discrepancies between cover they offer for women travelling whilst pregnant, or for families travelling with their children.
Some insurers[ii] don’t even mention pregnancy cover in their policy documents at all, making it difficult for women to understand what they are covered for. Combined with confusing terms and conditions relating to children travelling on their own, or what even counts as a ‘child’ on a policy document, Sarah has listed 5 top travel insurance traps for families to watch out for before they buy travel cover.
SavvyWoman’s top 5 travel insurance traps if travelling whilst pregnant or with a family:
1. Are you covered for travel in the late stages of pregnancy? When travelling whilst pregnant, airlines[iii]generally won’t allow women to fly after the 36th week of pregnancy, and insurers won’t cover air travel beyond this. 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. However some insurers and airlines will ask for a ‘fit to fly’ letter if travelling in the later stages of pregnancy – which can cost up to £40 and must be provided by a GP or midwife.
2. Check the level of pregnancy cover. Normal childbirth isn’t covered by travel insurance (as it’s not an illness), but, while some policies will cover medical costs for premature birth as being before 37 weeks[iv], others only cover the costs if the birth is eight weeks before the due date[v].
3. Find out what counts as a ‘child’ on a family policy. When travelling as a family, the age that insurers consider to be a ‘child’ on a family policy varies widely. Some policies insure children up to the age of 23[vi] or 21 if they are in full time education[vii], whereas others have a cut off age of 16[viii]. Beware; some family policies could leave children uninsured, or be more expensive, depending on the age they are no longer considered a ‘child’ by the insurer and the insurer’s approach[ix].
4. Make sure your child is insured if they are travelling unaccompanied. Over four out of five of the travel insurers Sarah contacted refused to cover children travelling on their own at all, no matter what the circumstance, even though most airlines will let children travel alone from the age of 5[x].
5. Check the excess levels. Whereas some insurance policies cap the excess ‘per incident’, others do this ‘per person’, which means, for example, if a family of four were to claim for lost luggage, it could amount to four lots of excess deducted from the pay-out (or £100 if the excess is £25).
Sarah Pennells, Editor of SavvyWoman.co.uk, says:
“Going on holiday as a family can be relaxing, or it can be a real adventure! But you don’t want to spend it worrying about your travel insurance or finding out that it won’t pay out when you need it to. It’s crucial to do your homework and find the right insurance policy that guarantees correct cover for you and your family and won’t leave you with a holiday headache.
Normally I’d recommend checking the small print, but in some cases insurers don’t even include information such as pregnancy cover in any of their documents – it’s a case of having to ring them up. This makes it much harder to find out what you’re covered for, so be warned and don’t get caught out.”