U.K. Travel? Here’s What You Need to Know About Travel Insurance Before You Go

·6 min read
United Kingdom Passport and stethoscope - Credit: BCFC - stock.adobe.com
United Kingdom Passport and stethoscope - Credit: BCFC - stock.adobe.com

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International travel restrictions are lifting, so you may be ready to book a U.K. trip and take in the history, culture and landscape—and maybe get in some Royals watching. Although travel insurance is not mandatory to visit the United Kingdom, it’s a lovely idea to buy a solid travel insurance plan.

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Covid-related travel concerns are a top priority for many travelers, reports Gail Mangiante, spokesperson with insurance comparison site InsureMyTrip. Many travel insurance companies provide benefits that will cover Covid-19 medical costs for treatment if you contract the virus during your trip, as well as the extra costs of quarantine in a hotel if you test positive.

A travel insurance agent can identify the policies that meet your needs and price-shop the choices for you. It’s important to ask questions and ensure your travel insurance policy provides coverage specific to Covid.

Some American tourists opt for a long weekend to experience London, while others embark on multi-location trips that include Wales and Scotland. Because the U.K. is a sprawling place with rural and city settings—as well as a broad mix of tourist attractions — your travel insurance policy should be comprehensive and cover a variety of events.

Comprehensive travel plans typically include coverage for:

  • Travel medical expenses

  • Emergency medical evacuation

  • Trip cancellation

  • Trip delay and trip interruption coverage

  • Baggage loss protection

Prepare to Cancel Before You Go

Vacations are fun to look forward to, so it’s hard to think about a potential setback. Still, planning for one is a good idea. If you need to cancel your U.K. trip, a travel insurance plan can reimburse you 100 percent for lost prepaid, nonrefundable deposits. To make a cancellation claim you’ll need to have a reason that’s listed in the policy and provide documentation.

Acceptable reasons for cancellation include unplanned events such as an illness or death, a serious family emergency, a national emergency either at your destination or in the U.S., terrorist action or severe weather.

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Not all reasons for canceling a trip are covered by travel insurance, so check your policy for the list of reasons. For example, if you have tickets to a musical in London’s West End and the headliner changed and is no longer Hugh Jackman, your travel insurance plan would not cover your trip cancellation.

But there is a way to cover a movie star-level issue and other problems. You could opt for a “cancel for any reason” travel insurance upgrade, which will cost about 40% more. With this upgrade you can literally cancel your trip for any reason — as long as you cancel within 48 hours before your scheduled departure. Reimbursement is typically 50% or 75% under this coverage. (Not all travel insurers offer this upgrade.)

Medical Issues While on a U.K. Trip

Check the coverage from your U.S. health insurance plan before you go to the U.K. Your plan may provide limited or no coverage outside the U.S. And senior travelers should note that Medicare will not cover health care when you’re abroad.

As experienced U.K. visitors know, road safety can be a potential hazard, as driving on the left side of the road is unfamiliar to American drivers. If you’re renting a car, make sure you are comfortable with road protocol.

If you have an accident on a windy road in the Manchester countryside and require medical attention, your plan’s travel medical coverage will cover medical treatment, prescription medication, hospital stays, diagnostic tests and doctor visits.

Travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth suggests you buy a policy with at least $50,000 in medical expense coverage for travel to the U.K.

Paying for a Medical Evacuation

If you suffer a broken elbow or have a contusion that needs more serious medical attention than what’s available locally, a robust travel insurance policy can literally provide life-saving care.

With the assistance of your travel insurance company’s 24/7 assistance hotline, an experienced team can provide a plethora of resources and will coordinate arranging a medical transport to take you to a qualified medical facility equipped to handle your needs.

Without travel insurance coverage, you would foot the bill and pay out-of-pocket for a medevac. The small cost of your policy will protect you in many important ways.

Squaremouth recommends at least $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage for U.K. trips.

The Costs of a Delay

Trip delay benefits within your policy will reimburse you for any expenses you incur if you experience a delay while traveling. For example, if your outbound flight from Philadelphia to London is canceled because the flight crew did not arrive, and the next flight is many hours away, you could recover expenses if you need to spend the night in a hotel and have breakfast the next morning.

Trip delay coverage generally has a waiting period—such as six hours of delay—before you can make a claim.

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Pardon the Interruption

If you need to cut your trip short while in the U.K., your travel insurance policy can cover the cost of last-minute flights home and reimburse you for any pre-paid and non-refundable expenses for the parts of your itinerary that you miss.

Unexpected events like a family emergency back home, or death, illness or injury to you or your traveling companion, are examples of covered reasons for a trip interruption claim.

Wayward Baggage and Belongings

The benefits for baggage loss span way beyond just misdirected luggage. A travel insurance plan can cover baggage and your personal belongings if they are lost or stolen.

As with many generally safe destinations, crime can still happen.

“Instances of theft could be covered under the baggage and personal effects section of your policy,” says Lisa Cheng, a spokesperson with World Nomads, a travel insurance company.

“If you’re traveling to an urban area in the United Kingdom, there have been an increasing number of instances of pickpocketing and bag-snatching in transport hubs, shopping districts, popular attractions and neighborhood pubs,” cautions Cheng.

If you do fall victim to theft while abroad, Cheng says to file loss reports with the police or other authorities such as an airline, hotel manager or tour leader. If you file a travel insurance claim you will need this type of documentation.

“The compensation from your travel insurance company could be in the form of a replacement or a reimbursement,” Cheng says, noting that depreciation will be taken into account, as well as per article and total maximum limits. “Browse the exclusion section of your policy to see what may not be covered. Cash, credit cards and events tickets are common exclusions,” she says.

With the right travel insurance policy in hand you can go have a bloody good time and not worry about how you’ll pay for emergencies.

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