What is worldwide travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a must when heading overseas, so you need to make sure you get the right holiday insurance policy for your particular requirements.
When you buy an insurance policy, you might assume that you’re covered wherever you travel in the world. But this won’t be the case unless you specifically apply for this level of cover.
Checking if you are covered for worldwide travel
Some travel insurance policies only cover the UK and European destinations - and different insurers define ‘Europe’ in different ways. For example, Turkey is within Europe on some policies, and not on others.
Whatever type of European cover you have, it will be useless if you twist your ankle on the Great Wall of China or you are bitten by a sand fly in the Amazon. So, while it may sound obvious, it's important to check that your policy covers your destination by reading through the terms and conditions before committing to a purchase.
You may also find exclusions in place in relation to countries that may be in a state of political unrest so do check the small print carefully. You almost certainly won’t be covered if you travel to a country if the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against travel to that destination.
Henley & Partners data. Visa Restrictions Index. Correct as of 2017
Choosing the right policy
As well as geographical coverage, policies also come in ‘single trip’, ’12-month multi-trip’ and ‘extended stay’ versions.
If you’re travelling to far-flung corners of the globe, it’s likely you’ll be away for some time. So if you have a single trip policy which is valid worldwide, it will impose a limit on the duration of your trip. Single trip limits are usually between 30 and 60 days, though it could be longer depending on the policy.
However, if the limit on your single trip worldwide holiday insurance policy is capped at 60 days and your trip is planned for 70 days, this doesn't mean you are covered for the first 60 days and not the remaining 10.
Because your trip is longer than the stated maximum, the entire policy may be deemed invalid at whichever point you attempt to make a claim on it.
Single trip or annual policy?
These days, many people take two or more separate overseas trips a year. In this case, it could work out cheaper to buy annual travel insurance, which is also known as multi-trip cover.
As it says on the tin, annual travel insurance gives you cover for the whole year from the time of purchase. As well as offering peace of mind, an annual worldwide travel insurance policy means you don't have to keep shopping around for the cheapest single trip quote.
While you will be able to make as many trips abroad as you like, annual travel policies still come with restrictions and exclusions, so it's crucial to read the small print before you buy.
For example, multi-trip and single trip policies alike may not cover winter sports such as skiing, and even with a multi-trip policy, each individual trip tends to carry a maximum duration - up to 56 days is fairly typical.
With any kind of travel insurance you are likely to be penalised for pre-existing medical conditions or even just being over a certain age - 65 is usually the trigger point.
The good news is there's plenty of choice on the market, even among specialist travel insurers that cater for older travellers, those with pre-existing conditions, or those who want to undertake so-called adrenalin sports such as bungee jumping or white-water rafting.
Shopping around with care
Once you have decided whether a single trip or multi-trip policy is right for you, it's time to shop around and compare a variety of worldwide travel insurance policies from a number of insurers to help you find the best quote.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of opting for a 'cheapest is best' policy as you could be missing out on cover in key areas. The policy may also come with more exclusions, and you could find that you have higher excesses to pay out in order to facilitate a claim.
Backpacker and extended stay insurance
For worldwide trips that will be longer than 60 days, you’ll need to consider specialist backpacker or 'gap year' insurance policies. These also cover extended duration worldwide trips as well as the usual round the world backpacking.
You will usually find that backpackers travel insurance offers cover for trips of periods up to 12 months. In some cases you may also be able to extend the duration of your cover should you choose to travel for a longer period.
It’s worth noting that policies will only cover you for a limited number of trips back home during the terms of the policy.
Some insurers are now offering cover for up to two trips back to the UK during an extended holiday to cater for their customers who wish to return home for a special event. The maximum time you will be able to spend in the UK for the policy to remain valid is typically no more than 14 days.
With worldwide travel insurance and international flights more affordable than ever, many cities around the world are enjoying an influx of global tourists*. While European destinations like London and Paris remain extremely popular, some of the world’s most visited cities include Asian and Middle Eastern hubs like Bangkok and Dubai…
MasterCard data, Global Destinations Cities Index. Correct as of 2016
Choosing a destination
Picking a destination can be tough, particularly when there’s so many spectacular cities to choose from. Here are some of the reasons behind why the top five cities are welcoming more international visitors than anywhere else:
- Bangkok. The Thai capital has something for everyone, from culture vultures to partygoers.
- London. London combines historical landmarks with a vast range of entertainment opportunities, making it a favourite with international tourists.
- Paris. Offering gastronomic delights and some of the world’s best-known tourist attractions, Paris is the romantic getaway that never goes out of fashion.
- Dubai. Opulent and ambitious, Dubai has an amazing skyline and unparalleled opportunities for retail indulgence.
- New York. An iconic destination, every street corner seems to have come straight off the silver screen.
Worldwide travel tips
While appropriate travel cover is arguably one of the most important things to consider when setting off on a round the world trip, there are other preparations you will need to make well in advance.
Get your vaccinations: For some jabs you'll need to visit your doctors several times before travelling and you could be left feeling a little under the weather, so it's important to consider this well in advance.
When it comes to protecting yourself from malaria, you'll probably need to take a course of tablets which will continue once you are at your destination. Always check what precautions you may need to take with your GP before travelling.
Apply for your visas early: You'll need to apply for your tourist visas with plenty of time to spare as this process can take one to two weeks in certain countries. However, it’s also possible that you’ll enjoy visa-free access to your country of choice.
Look after your money: It's a good idea to split the spending money for your worldwide trip over a couple of methods of payment. Pre-paid credit cards are ideal for this purpose and give added security in the form of the chip and pin system.
Keeping your cash and passport in a money belt which you can wear under your clothing at all times will also help to minimise the risk of theft.
Pack carefully: If you are planning on travelling for some time, it's important to consider what you'll add to your luggage as the extra weight can be a hindrance - especially when backpacking.
As a good rule of thumb, aim to discard around 50% of the items and clothing that you initially pack and only take one good pair of jeans if you are planning on travelling light.
Do your research: Before you travel it's a good idea to read up on the destinations you'll be visiting so you can find out the following: the typical diet and cost of living, the location and contact details of the British Embassy and details of safety tips and precautions you may need to take whilst at your destination.
To find worldwide travel insurance cover for your upcoming trip, click here.
*MasterCard, Global Destination Cities Index, 2016