DSC_2092It’s that time of year when you may be starting to think about booking a holiday. Travelling without insurance can be a gamble, particularly if you are going overseas, leading to many jet-setters now seeing it as an essential purchase before they leave.

However, the variety of travel insurance policies out there can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure exactly what you should be looking for in a policy or how to compare one with another. Opting for a policy which gives you cover you don’t need could lead to you spending more than necessary, whilst buying insurance which doesn’t give you enough protection could land you with unexpected financial losses or worse.

No matter who you are or where you’re travelling, there are a few features that are essential for any policy. Any medical expenses for emergency care or surgery should be covered as standard, with good policies offering at least £1 million of cover for European travel and £2 million or more for travel to the USA.

Your policy should also offer cover you should you have to cancel or shorten your trip, repaying the cost of any travel or accommodation you’ve already paid for. A good policy will cover £2,000 of expenses or more, although check terms and conditions for the circumstances under which reimbursement will be made. Make sure your policy also covers you for missed departures, delays and travel abandonment.

Baggage cover is another must-have feature, paying out if your bags are lost, damaged, stolen or destroyed. The amounts will be set for single articles and valuables, although a good policy should offer at least £1,500 of cover, and most will offer compensation if your baggage becomes delayed. Make sure your policy has personal liability cover too, which will take care of any damages in the event someone becomes injured or their property is lost or damaged and you are liable.

These are the essentials, but there are a number of other features you should look out for in a policy, such as cover for money, (including travellers’ cheques, pre-paid tickets and even cash), lost passports and dental emergency cover. An increasingly common feature is terrorism cover, although this can vary from one provider to the next as to what exactly will be covered – some will pay out for damage to baggage, whilst others will only cover medical costs.

Outside of these features, anything else is likely to be more specialist, such as winter sports cover for those going skiing or snowboarding, or scheduled airline failure, which will pay out in the event of your airline going out of business. Make sure anything like this is only included if you need it, or else you could end up paying over the odds for cover you don’t need.