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travel insurance
travel insurance

Why is travel insurance important?

How to choose the best travel insurance - what is covered by your policy and where to find the best buy online. Itís surprising how few people pay attention to what is covered by their travel insurance. Given the costs of travelling, hotels and tours and the chances that you will be delayed or injured or have belongings or documents stolen or lost, good travel insurance is vital to minimise the disruption and distress. If you were to fall ill or be injured, medical costs in foreign countries - especially the USA - could be crippling without cover for medical expenses and repatriation. With many more people traveling abroad each year it becomes increasingly important to be aware of the hidden costs that can be incurred and not to choose a cheap travel insurance policy solely on its price. Before deciding on the right policy for you it is important to understand the types of coverage that usually come as standard and also the limitations of some policies. Coverage is likely to differ slightly between providers - and between individual policies - so be sure to check the details carefully. Choosing one tailored to your needs will both avoid paying too much and ensure that you are covered for all eventualities.

Buying your policy

Most travel insurance providers offer instant quotes online, often cheaper than those same companies offer on the high street. It is particularly important though to take out adequate travel insurance, especially when travelling in the United States.

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The following are covered by most travel insurance providers:

   * Cancellation or delay of your trip
   * Medical emergencies (including emergency transport home)
   * Loss or theft of personal possessions
   * Legal costs associated with injuries or accidents
   * Personal liability in the event that you injure someone
   * Personal accident cover if you are injured
   * 24 hour emergency assistance (so you can call at any time if you are in trouble)

What is not covered by travel insurance?

   * War, both declared and undeclared (though some policies cover for terrorist attacks)
   * Interruption to your trip due to business or contractual commitments
   * Mental or nervous disorders
   * Self-inflicted injuries

What should your travel insurance cover?

Probably the most important coverage you need is for medical expenses. Countries in the European Economic Area - which includes EC countries as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland - provide reciprocal health services. You need to take a completed E111 form (available at the Post Office) with you when you travel, though this does not provide repatriation coverage. Some other countries have different forms of reciprocal health services, but you will need to check with the DoH before travelling to establish what medical services you will be entitled to under the agreement. If in doubt, take out insurance to be safe. All policies will have clauses dealing with pre-existing medical conditions and some will not cover any illness related to them. Winter sports cover is usually available at extra cost, as is cover for specialised activities such as scuba diving. Itís important to ensure your policy covers the full length of your trip - an annual policy may not cover individual trips of more than 31 days. If youíre buying a single-trip policy, or travel frequently on small or local airlines, be sure that your insurance provides adequate cover in case of delays, cancellations and lost baggage. Even having to pay the cost of staying in a hotel an extra night can be expensive; paying for entirely new flights after a delay and missed connection can be prohibitive.

USA by Rail highly recommends Insure & Go as its best buy travel insurance, both for comprehensive cover and great value.

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