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Why travel insurance is an essential…

With more and more people taking flights, cruises and train trips, it makes sense to buy travel insurance to protect you from a range of risks associated with travel. Travel insurance usually provides cover for six broad categories of risk: medical expenses, personal liability, personal accident, cancellation and curtailment, delayed and missed departures, and money and belongings. If you travel frequently, you will be better off buying a 12-month multi-travel policy rather than a single trip policy.

Medical expenses are the main reason for buying travel insurance. If you become ill or are injured while you are away, you will be covered for hospital bills (in-patient or out-patient); cost of prescribed medications; cost of a close relative or friend staying behind to look after you; being returned home for treatment, including by air ambulance; cost of your burial abroad or the cost of bringing your remains home in the event of death. You are advised to buy a policy that provides minimum medical cover of €1m, especially since you may require prolonged hospital care abroad.

Cancellation or curtailment of your trip due to circumstances beyond your control is another good reason for buying travel insurance. In the event of a delayed departure, you will need to get documentation from the carrier confirming the details of the delay. Similarly, if you miss your departure, you will need written proof that you missed your departure for reasons beyond your control, as specified in the policy. Examples include a sudden delay or cancellation on the public transport system taking you to the airport. Don’t forget to keep copies of receipts and any other relevant documentation to support your claim.

Travel insurance covers loss, damage or delayed arrival of your personal possessions, loss or theft of money, and replacing a lost or stolen passport. If you are robbed while away, you must report the loss to the local police within 24 hours and get written evidence of the report. You may also need to report the incident to your hotel and/or tour operator. If your baggage is delayed or is lost, keep your tickets and the baggage tags, which are usually stuck onto your ticket by the carrier as proof of your checked baggage. Remember to ask for a copy of the written report from the carrier regarding the loss/delay of your luggage.

Your policy covers your legal expenses and personal liability cover in the event of you injuring a third party or damaging their property as a result of an accident. Your policy also includes a fixed payment if you suffer permanent disability or death while travelling.

When you buy travel insurance, you will be given a 24-hour emergency help-line number. Keep this number handy when you are away, together with a copy of your policy. Call the emergency number as quickly as possible, particularly if you need hospital treatment.

Because your policy may have a time limit for the making of claims, remember to submit any claim covered by your travel insurance as soon as you can after you return home.