We’ve combined expert reviews from independent sources to come up with our Top Ten Travel Insurance for 2016:
- LV= - Premier
- Saga - Annual Travel Insurance (Note: only available for Over 50s)
- Post Office - Premier Plus
- Aviva - Multi Trip Travel Insurance
- M&S Bank - Annual Travel Insurance
- Churchill - Travel Insurance
- Holidaysafe - Premier Platinum
- Staysure - Comprehensive (Note: only available for Over 50s)
- Direct Line - Annual Multi Trip
- Columbus Direct - Gold
Read on to learn more about:
- How we came up with our Top 10 Travel Insurance
- "Best Travel Insurance" versus "Cheapest Travel Insurance"
- Best travel insurance for the USA
- The Best Travel Insurance Companies in 2016
- Travel Insurance Reviews
- The Best Travel Insurance for people with Pre Existing Medical Conditions
- The Best Travel Insurance for Over 65s
- The Best Backpacker Travel Insurance
- The Best Travel Insurance for Gadgets, Phones, & Laptops
- Travel Insurance from Banks
- Pets and Travel Insurance
- Travel insurance for children or while pregnant
How did you create this top 10 travel insurance companies list?
Our research combined the scores from Which?, the consumer magazine, and Fairer Finance, an organisation aiming to inform consumers about the quality of the companies they can buy from, and an independent financial review service. Put together, these sources provide a wealth of information on how well the insurers treat their customers.
We assigned extra points to the two companies awarded "Recommended Provider" status by Which? - Saga, Post Office and M&S. We also considered customer reviews on sites such as Trustpilot and Reviewcentre, and whether the insurer has won any awards.
Finally, we excluded travel insurance provided by banks, as these are often only available through a current account package. You can read more about travel insurance from banks below.
There were a few providers that were close to being included in the top 10 or received high scores from some of our sources but had not been featured by others. They are Age UK, Boots and 50 Plus, which has a Which? "Recommended Provider" status.
"Best Travel Insurance" versus "Cheapest Travel Insurance"
Our research does not include price. And, although price is an important factor for many people, your choice of travel insurance company should never be on price alone.
Price comparison websites (such as confused.com) have made it easy to find the best price for travel insurance and select the level of baggage, cancellation and medical cover you want. The trouble is that it can be hard to tell how these insurers will behave once they have your cash up front. So, the list in this article goes beyond that by including opinion and ratings on how well these firms have served their customers to date.
How to spot the best travel insurance
It’s important to understand what’s really included in your purchase. The headline limits of medical, cancellation and baggage are helpful starting points, but there might be variations in other terms that are harder to spot. It's also worth checking the quality of the company and its customer services; if an extra £5 means you get better service in the event of a medical emergency abroad, then it is money well spent.
The best annual travel insurance policies include:
- Higher limits on your individual items of baggage such as valuables, cash or your passport
- Lower excesses or even a zero excess
- A longer number of days abroad per trip with annual policies
- Cover for activities such as golf, cruises or extreme sports included
- Cover for business travel as well as personal travel
- Cover for car hire incidents
- A 24-hour line that you can ring for assistance in the case of an emergency abroad (and remember 24 hours can be important when you’re across time zones!)
The best-rated travel insurance companies in our top 10 offer many of these features.
If you're thinking about travelling to an unstable country, you might want to read our guide to travel insurance with terrorism cover and for dangerous areas.
People are increasingly worried about terror attacks while on holiday so our guide also reveals which standard travel insurance offers cover for terrorism.
Best travel insurance for the USA
- HolidaySafe – Premier
- ProtectYourBubble – Premier Plus
- Aviva – Premier
- LeisureGuard Lite – Premier
- Bell – Premier
- Coverwise – Gold
- InsuraTrip – Premier
- Virgin Money – Gold
- AA – Gold
- Columbus Direct – Silver
The USA is one of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers. There’s a huge range of options for tourists, from quick trips to New York to surfing in California, and it helps that Americans speak the same language as us.
However, travel insurance costs much more than to other countries, partly because the price of medical treatment is so high in the USA. For example, it costs in the region of £100,000 to be treated for an infection in a Californian hospital with return flights.
That means for single and annual trips you have to choose worldwide cover including the USA and Canada, rather than choosing them as separate countries.
Prices can vary massively between providers for this option so we’ve listed our top 10 providers to cover you for a trip to the States.
We tried to get similar levels of cover across the providers – it’s good quality but not the most expensive. The quotes were for a 30-year-old travelling to the USA for two weeks. Prices will vary depending on your age and length of stay but this should give you an indication of what to expect.
All the policies in our top 10 have at least £10m of medical cover, at least £3,000 for cancellation or curtailment, at least £1,500 for luggage, at least £200 for the single item limit, an excess of no more than £80 – ProtectYourBubble has £0 excess, and prices range from £22.94 (Aviva) to £55.73 (Virgin Money).
All the policies in the list were rated 4 or 5 out of 5 by an independent financial researcher and we took into account customer feedback from review sites.
HolidaySafe, our top provider, has an average score of 9 out of 10 from 4,273 reviews on TrustPilot and it quoted £28.08 for a two-week policy.
The Best Travel Insurance Companies in 2016
The Travel Insurance Companies whom Which? has named as "Recommended Providers" are:
Meanwhile, Fairer Finance has awarded "Gold Ribbons" to the following travel insurance providers:
Fairer Finance rates companies for Customer Happiness, Trust, Complaints Handling, and Transparency, giving them a percentage score.
Travel Insurance Reviews
We've written in-depth reviews on most of the travel insurance companies mentioned in this article. Follow these links to read them:
Single Trip & Annual Trip Travel Insurance Reviews
- M&S Travel Insurance Review
- John Lewis Travel Insurance Review
- Aviva Travel Insurance Review
- Coverwise Travel Insurance Review
- Columbus Direct Travel Insurance Review
- Debenhams Travel Insurance Review
- Holiday Extras Travel Insurance Review
- Essentials Travel Insurance Review
- World First Travel Insurance Review
- Cover For You Travel Insurance Review
- JS Travel Insurance
- Benefits Alliance Travel Insurance
- Admiral Travel Insurance
- ERV Travel Insurance
- Puffin Travel Insurance Review
- Protect Your Bubble Travel Insurance Review
- Age UK Travel Insurance Review
- Holidayrisk.com Travel Insurance Review
- Atlas Direct Travel Insurance Review
Gap Year & Backpacker Travel Insurance Reviews
- Alpha Travel Insurance Review
- The AA Travel Insurance Review
- American Express Travel Insurance Review
- Post Office Travel Insurance Review
- Go Travel Insurance Review
- Globelink International Travel Insurance
Over 65s & Medical Conditions Travel Insurance Reviews
- Saga Travel Insurance Review
- Flexicover Travel Insurance Review
- Just Travel Cover review
- TopDog Travel Insurance Review
- Staysure Travel Insurance Review
- Explorer Travel Insurance Review
- InsureFor Travel Insurance Review
- All Clear Travel Insurance Review
- Insure More Travel Insurance Review
- Southdowns Travel Insurance
- Get Going Travel Insurance
- YourTravelCover.com review
The Best Travel Insurance for people with Pre Existing Medical Conditions
Filtering our list with pre-existing medical conditions produces a slightly different list to the Top 10 Travel insurance. These providers made it into our list of top 10 travel insurers by being good providers for the whole of the market – they’re generalist firms and reviews indicate they should serve the "average person on the street" well.
However a traveller with pre-existing medical conditions will find that many of these companies refuse to quote, depending on their particular condition and its severity. This is because the firms are not set up to deal with the specialist requirements that pre-existing medical conditions can bring.
Price comparison sites like confused.com do allow you to declare medical conditions. However the number of specialist insurers they work with particularly for extreme conditions can be low. So you will get prices back, but only from one or two providers, meaning you might be missing the better deals on the market.
It pays therefore to shop around and go to specialist medical travel insurers, such as Staysure, Flexicover, and Explorer, directly. Their knowledge of pre-existing conditions means they can quote more often and sometimes even offer better prices. Alternatively you can use a specialist comparision site for travel insurance with medical conditions, like Just Travel Cover.
Based on our research, the top providers for people with existing medical conditions are as follows:
The Best Travel Insurance for Over 65s
As with medical conditions, age has a significant impact on both the cost and availability of travel insurance. Frustratingly, there is no consistency between travel insurance companies on age limits, making it almost impossible to put forward a "Top 10" in the way that we have done above.
But you can follow these steps to find the best travel insurance option for your circumstances:
- Go direct to several specialist insurers to check prices. Saga, Staysure, and Flexicover are good places to start.
- Consider Single Trip Travel Insurance. While Annual Multi-trip cover works out cheaper for younger travellers, insurance companies' concerns about medical conditions developing or worsening during the course of a policy year make annual cover much more costly for the over 65s. Buying single trip policies for each trip can save you a lot.
The Best Backpacker Travel Insurance
Choosing Travel Insurance for a backpacking trip or a gap year is rather more complicated than finding the best insurance for a conventional two-week holiday. We have explored Backpacker Insurance in detail in another article, but in summary the things to look out for are:
- Cancellation Limits. Make sure this is high enough to cover the cost of expensive pre-booked flights or excursions. American Express Backpacker Insurance has the highest limit at £5,000.
- Detailed Limits. Many backpacker travel insurance policies have baggage limits that appear high enough to cover the theft or loss of a laptop and /or phone and / or camera. However cheaper policies have more detailed limits (such as single item, valuables or gadget limits) that prevent such a claim. The best policies give you sufficient cover even at this detailed level - for example Flexicover Silver allow you to cover up to £2,000 of gadgets.
- The Excess. This is the amount you will have to pay yourself if you need to make a claim. The best policy from Alpha Travel Insurance has a zero excess.
- Activities Cover. The best backpacker insurance companies cover a wide range of adventure sports as standard. Top Dog Insurance has a list of over 100 that includes bungee jumps and scuba diving.
- Flexibility. Cheap backpacker insurance policies can prevent you from extending your trip, and regard your trip to have finished completely if you pop back home. By contrast, Alpha Travel Insurance allows unlimited extensions up to a total trip duration of 24 months, provided you contact them in advance.
Based on all of these factors, the Zero XS Long Stay policy from Alpha Travel Insurance is our top choice in 2016.
Our research into popular backpacker destinations has revealed surprising insights that may be useful for travellers planning trips.
We looked into the best and worst countries to get injured in, based on the price and quality of medical care. The study found that New Zealand has the best cost of treatment to quality of care ratio and India has the worst.
Unsurprisingly the USA was the most expensive country for medical treatment, but we did not expect India to be second.
We also looked into the most popular budget backpacker destinations and found that Scotland was a shock favourite. Although it's a UK destination travel insurance can still cover you for cancellations or lost luggage.
The Best Travel Insurance for Gadgets, Phones, & Laptops
Many people wrongly assume that if they have £2,000 of baggage cover on their travel insurance, their Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge or Macbook Air is covered. However, in many cases the so-called "single item limit" - which can be as little as £150 with some cheap travel insurance policies - means that isn't true.
Our top choices if you want to make sure your gadgets are covered while you are on holiday are:
- John Lewis Travel Insurance, who provide £2,500 of cover for gadgets (with a £1,500 single item limit) through an add-on policy feature called "Technology Cover"
- Alpha Travel Insurance, who include £1,000 of cover for phones and laptops as standard
Travel Insurance from Banks
Many banks now provide travel insurance to their current account customers - either as a feature of a paid-for packaged bank account or as a discounted offer.
In order to have an "apples-to-apples" comparison between the different travel insurance companies, we excluded banks' travel insurance policies from our main Top 10. But many of the policies score well in reviews by Which?, Defaqto, and Fairer Finance, so we have listed the best of them here. If you bank with any of these providers, it is certainly worth comparing the policy details to the those of the other companies we've reviewed in this article to see which is the best value.
Top 10 Bank Travel Insurance
- First Direct - Annual Multi Trip
- HSBC - Annual Multi Trip
- TSB - Platinum Account Annual Travel
- Lloyds - Platinum Account Annual Travel
- Halifax - Multi Trip Travel Insurance
- Tesco Bank - Finest Travel Insurance
- Santander - Annual Travel Insurance
- Barclays - Travel Plus
- Royal Bank of Scotland - Reward Black
- Natwest - Reward Black
Pets and Travel Insurance
Travel Insurance won't cover expenses associated with taking your pets abroad - if your dog needs vet treatment while overseas, for example.
However, there are several pet insurance policies that cover pet travel - learn more about them in our article about Travel Insurance for Pets to find out how to get the best deal.
Travel insurance for children or while pregnant
Most insurers will cover pregnant women but they will have some limits on the cover. Some only offer cover up to 28 or 30 weeks of the pregnancy. Finding this in the small print can be difficult, we looked at handful of policy documents from our top 10 providers and could not find any reference to length of pregnancy.
If you are looking for travel insurance when pregnant it’s best to call or email a provider before you buy to make sure you’re covered.
You’ll need to check with the airline if you’re flying because they have their own limits on travel while pregnant. For example, some will not allow you to fly if your pregnancy is considered full term.
For baby travel insurance and children under 16 you’ll also need to double check the insurer’s policy documents.
Most will cover children, especially on family policies. However, there are exceptions you should be aware of. If your child is travelling alone a family policy may not cover them so you might need to look into individual cover.
And if you have a disabled child you will need to declare any medical conditions to your insurer. Some may not offer cover so you’ll need to look into a specialist provider.
It is good to have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for all members of your family, although it should not replace travel insurance because it does not cover costs for things like medical repatriation.
Now that the UK has voted for Brexit it is not known what will happen with EHIC in the future.