Travel Insurance Myths Solved

5 minute read

Couple sitting on a bench looking out over a beach to sea

Last reviewed on 13th August 2020.


It’s tempting to accept the cheapest quote. It’s also common to accept the offer from your travel agent without asking what’s covered. The fact is a lot of people barely give travel insurance much thought. When you book a holiday many just focus on the positives of getting away.

You’re looking forward to relaxing, trying new food and exploring somewhere different. The last thing many people want to think about is something going wrong. Look at this infographic from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It confirms that 16% of consumers believe that travel insurance isn’t necessary.

But, while away you could lose your suitcases or have your camera or phone stolen. You might have to cut your trip short or you could face a medical emergency.

While lost or stolen items might be worth a smaller sum, medical expenses are another matter. The costs of medical treatment can run into thousands, especially if you are travelling outside the EU. It’s not only the cost of treatment or a hospital stay you need to consider. You might need to be flown back the UK with a medical professional. Or, you might need to stay where you are whilst you’re having treatment and want a loved one to be with you.

The problem many people face is that there are a number of myths about travel insurance. This means people either don’t insure or buy a policy that isn’t adequate or suitable. Here are five popular travel insurance misconceptions explained:


MYTH 1. Travel Insurance will not cover me for pre-existing conditions

TRUTH: Most of the time you can take out travel insurance with a pre-existing medical condition.

A pre-existing condition will be in your medical records.

This will be the case if you have asked your doctor for advice about a condition, or you have received a diagnosis of an illness and had treatment. Some conditions will be covered under a standard policy.

If you have a condition which requires regular medication, or you have had treatment for a condition in the past, then it is likely that you will need to take out a specialist policy.

A specialist policy will take into account any pre-existing conditions. The insurance company will ask you to fill in a questionnaire and you will have to declare the conditions you have and the medications you’re on. They will then decide whether or not to grant cover.

Insurance companies provide cover for over 2,000 pre-existing conditions. Some of the most common conditions are:

  • Heart Conditions
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes

It is important to declare everything that is shown on your medical records. If you don’t, the insurance company can refuse to cover you.


MYTH 2. I am over 75 so I can't get travel insurance

TRUTH: Some companies insure people up to 100 years of age. There are insurance companies that offer cover for holidaymakers up to 100 years of age.

You can choose to take out cover for a single trip or look for annual cover if you are travelling more than once. Tell your insurance company if you have any pre-existing conditions. Otherwise, if you do get ill on holiday, you might find that you are refused cover.


MYTH 3. My European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card will provide me with enough cover

TRUTH: An EHIC card does give some cover, but this is limited to certain countries and will not cover private care

Your EHIC card does give you some cover in other EEA countries and in Switzerland. You’ll either get free care or you’ll get a discounted price. It is valid in state-run hospitals and doctors' surgeries. It will not cover you for private care.

While an EHIC card will ensure you’ll get treatment if you become ill or have an accident, it won’t pay for you to be flown home or the accommodation costs of someone to stay with you.

If you miss your flight home because you are in hospital, you will have to buy a new ticket when you are fit to fly. A travel insurance policy will cover these eventualities and could save you a considerable amount of money.


MYTH 4. It's okay to wait and buy insurance cover on the day I travel

TRUTH: It is strongly advised to purchase travel insurance in advance, so you have cover for unforeseen circumstances that may prevent you from travelling.

You can purchase a standard insurance policy at the airport in minutes. But if you have a pre-existing condition which you don’t declare, your insurance cover won’t be valid. This will leave you uninsured. Specialist insurance cover takes a few days to sort out, so you won’t get that from a kiosk at the airport.

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MYTH 5. I am only travelling in the UK so I don't need insurance

TRUTH: Travel insurance is also useful for UK-based trips, in case of lost or stolen luggage, or unforeseen circumstances that means you cannot travel.

Likewise, if you become ill while you’re away, you may have to extend your stay. An insurance policy may cover the costs of someone staying with you until you’re well enough to return home.

If you’re travelling by ferry, train or bus, delays and cancellations are often covered. Some insurance policies also cover you for internal flights; but it’s not always the case so, if you want this type of insurance, check before you buy.