Someone you can trust – You should always go with a reputable and established company. There’s no point in taking risks. Check if they have industry accreditation. If necessary, ask around amongst colleagues and friends to see if they’ve heard of a particular company. And remember, no matter how good a website is, the company should have a call centre, sales staff, and a proper postal address for their office – if none of these exist, be careful.
Contact Information – Following from the point above, make sure you have all contact information necessary for your insurance company if you have any problems abroad. Ensure you have numbers that can be dialled from your destination as some free-phone numbers may not work outside of Ireland.
Policy Details – Ensure that you’re familiar with the details of the policy you’re thinking of buying – does it include cover for cancellations, delays, lost luggage? What cover does it provide with regards to medical coverage? Is this sufficient considering your destination? Will you be paid up-front or will you be reimbursed later after you yourself have incurred the expense? Are you comfortable with the cover you’ve just purchased?
Don’t Lie – By truthful and up-front with whatever it is you’re planning to do when you’re on your holiday – if you’re thinking of maybe doing any ‘extreme sports’ highlighted by travel insurance companies (skiing, parachuting etc.) but may or may not, mention is so that you’re covered should you decided to do so, just in case. Be honest also when it comes to pre-existing medical insurance.
Multiple policies with same company – Some companies provide discounts if you hold more than one insurance policy with them. So if you already have car, home or life insurance with a single company, ask for a quote for your travel insurance if they provide such cover, and ask if they can offer you any discount seeing as you’re providing them with all of your insurance business.
Less than obvious Insurers – When shopping around, you should keep an eye out for companies you may not expect providing Travel Insurance – for example, the AA, or the VHI. You may also find that when purchasing your holiday tickets online, that the company selling you the travel may offer Travel Insurance as well.
Internet Travel Insurance Suppliers – Now, more than ever, the choice of Travel Insurance suppliers on the internet is vast. Googling on “travel insurance”, restricting your search to Ireland only provides at least 5 internet-only travel insurance providers.
Special Offers – Always keep an eye out for special offers that may be offered at various times by different insurance companies. For example, look out for money back guarantees such as “If you find a cheaper deal elsewhere, we’ll refund the difference”. This can assure you that you’re not being stung. Another promotion may be something like “one month’s insurance free if you pay monthly by direct debit”. These can give good value.
Single or Multi Trip Insurance – Always consider your actual needs when buying travel insurance. You may be tempted by what seems like good value on Multi Trip travel insurance policies, but you should consider whether or not you’ll actually need this.
Sharp Sales Practices – A newly observed sales tactic by a small number of travel agents is to tell customers they will not make a holiday booking unless they have proof of insurance. This is not the case, as you can purchase any holiday package, and travel anywhere you like without purchasing insurance. If you do so, it a risk of your own making, but perfectly legal to do so.
Have your policy to hand – When ringing around looking for quotes and you are renewing your policy, have your existing policy with you so you can answer the relevant questions, and ask important questions of your own. If you’re sure your existing policy meets your requirements, use this as the basis for requesting a quotation from a potential new insurer.
Check the small print – Remember, sometimes just because an insurance company has sold you a policy this does not mean you’re eligible to claim on it. If you have any concerns, get them to confirm to you that you are covered in particular situations – in writing if possible.
Timeliness – Arrange for your travel insurance at least a month before leaving if possible. Confirm before you actually leave that your cover is in place, and that your premium payment has actually been received.
Documentation – Ensure that you bring your all relevant travel insurance documentation with you on your holiday. Keep it with your other important documentation such as your passport and travel tickets – items you’re going to make sure you look after.
Excess – Firstly, make sure you are aware if there is any excess on the policy you’re thinking of buying – ensure that you’re happy with this amount. To reduce the price of the premium, you could volunteer to pay more of an excess towards the cost of each claim. Only do this if you can afford to do so however.
Do you actually need travel insurance – As with all insurance, it’s your choice to purchase or not. In some cases, such as travelling within the European Economic Area (including EC countries, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), you are entitled to reciprocal state-provided health services by taking with you a form called E111, available from all Post Offices. You must get the form completed before you leave. This may be sufficient for your needs. Click here for more information.
Brokers vs Direct – A ValueIreland.com reader sent us this tip where they received a quote from an insurance broker for an insurance policy with a particular insurance company. Our reader rang the company directly and got a quote for the same policy going direct rather than via the broker, and found that they could get the policy at a significant discount than from the broker. Something to check out if you normally use a broker.