We’ve combined expert reviews from independent sources to come up with our list.
Three of the best UK travel insurance policies for 2021
The rest of the best
- Admiral Platinum
- InsureFor.com Premier
- Saga Travel Insurance
- The AA Gold
- Sainsburys Platinum
- Santander Travel Insurance
- AXA Gold
- Co-Operative Insurance Platinum
- Direct Travel Insurance Premier Plus
- JustTravelCover.com Arch Gold
In this guide
- How we chose the best travel insurance companies
- How to find the best travel insurance
- How to get cheaper travel insurance
- Travel insurance that covers coronavirus (Covid-19)
- The best travel insurance for the USA
- Travel Insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions
- The best insurance companies for skiing and winter sports
- Backpacker travel insurance
- Travel insurance that includes motorcycle cover
- The best travel insurance for gadgets, phones and laptops
- Travel insurance for pets
- Travel insurance for pregnancy and young children
- Travel insurance reviews
How we chose the best travel insurance companies
We made our list of the top UK travel insurers by collecting the latest information about nearly 50 insurance providers from independent expert review site Fairer Finance. You can get a price-based rating from comparison sites like Compare the Market and GoCompare, so we compared the quality of their products and their customer service instead.
The key metrics we considered were:
- The level of cover offered by each company’s best travel insurance product — This is represented by a ‘Product Rating’ out of 5. We only selected insurers whose Product Rating was at least 4 out of 5 for their highest level of coverage.
- Each insurer’s Customer Experience rating (out of 100) — This is an aggregate of scores for customer happiness, trust, transparency and complaints handling. We only selected insurers with a Customer Experience rating of 50 or above. The lowest score on Fairer Finance’s complete list was 36%, and the highest was 64%.
We also factored in whether companies offered features highly sought after by potential customers. For that reason, we only considered policies that provided the following:
- At least £10m for emergency medical cover
- At least £2,000 cover for personal possessions and baggage
- At least £5,000 cancellation cover
- At least 31 days of cover per trip
- A medical excess of less than £100
The insurers that scored the highest across these metrics feature in our ‘Best Insurers’ list above.
Many providers in our list also offer policies or options with lower levels of cover that may be more relevant for your needs. And because we've also looked at customer experience ratings, the companies on our list should offer good service. We’ve chosen policies that offer substantial cover that shouldn't leave you out of pocket if you need to claim.
How to find the best travel insurance
When looking for travel insurance, it’s essential to understand what’s included in your purchase. The headline limits of medical, cancellation and baggage are helpful starting points. Still, 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 a medical emergency abroad, then it is money well spent.
Consider the following if they’re relevant to you:
- High limits on individual items of baggage — High single-item limits mean you can cover things like your valuables, cash or passport in full. That way, you’re not out of pocket if they’re lost.
- Low medical excess — Having to pay a high excess if you need medical cover may leave you without sufficient funds for the rest of your trip. Thankfully, some insurers (such as Sainsbury’s) can offer as little as zero excess.
- A high number of days abroad per trip — If you’re abroad for longer than the stated number of days per trip in your policy, you won’t be covered. Getting a policy that covers you for more days means you’re less likely to get caught out. Most good policies will cover you for at least 31 days per trip, with some like LV= offering as many as 90 days.
- Cover for activities such as golf, cruises or extreme sports included — If you intend to go on any excursions while you’re travelling, activities cover will be invaluable. Please note that while many insurers offer cruise-specific policies, you may not be covered while you’re off the boat on day trips.
- Business and personal travel — If you’re only covered for personal travel, your insurer may not accept a claim you make if you’re on a business trip. It’s safer to go for a policy that covers both.
- Car hire cover — While car hire companies do offer insurance, it’s often expensive. It may be cheaper to get car hire included in your travel insurance policy instead. Learn more with our guide to car hire excess insurance.
- An emergency helpline — Look for 24-hour helplines: it means you’ll still be able to make a claim no matter what timezone you’re in.
- Terrorism cover — If you’re thinking about travelling to a country where there may be civil unrest, it’s worth considering a policy that covers claims for terrorist activity. Read our guide to travel insurance with terrorism cover and for dangerous areas.
How to get cheaper travel insurance
There are several things you can do to get a cheaper quote for your travel insurance:
- Add a voluntary excess — Agree to pay more out of your pocket in the event of a claim. In exchange, your insurer will likely lower your premiums.
- Buy cover in plenty of time — You might find premiums are cheaper if you buy in advance and you’ll have more time to shop around.
- Only buy what you need — Don’t pay extra to cover things you won’t need. For example, if you’re going to a beach resort, you’re unlikely to require winter sports cover.
- Get cover that matches the value of your belongings and holiday — Avoid taking expensive luggage. Travelling light means you can opt for low cover limits and still be fully protected. The same goes for your holiday: if you spent £2,000 on it, you don’t need £10,000 cancellation cover.
What are the best cheap travel insurance policies?
We used a comparison site to determine the cheapest travel insurance policies you can get that meet a high standard of cover. We got quotes for a 27-year-old man with no pre-existing medical conditions going to Spain for seven nights on a single-trip policy.
We identified the best cheap policies as those with at least £10m of cover for medical emergencies and cost under £9 with a maximum excess of £150. We generated this quote in April 2021.
Having a substantial amount of cover and a low excess means that you'd be able to claim without having to pay a large amount yourself. These policies are good value for money.
Here are the cheapest policies we were able to find that met our criteria:
- Cover Wise (Standard) — £6.65. Up to £20m emergency medical cover with an excess of £125. It also includes COVID-19 cover.
- Insure and Escape (Essential) — £6.76. Up to £10m medical cover with a £150 excess.
- Insurance Republic (Essentials) — £8.08. £10m medical cover with a £149 excess.
- Trip Sure (Silver) — £8.27. £10m emergency medical cover with a £125 excess.
Remember, always make sure you know exactly what a policy covers, and how much before you purchase. There's little benefit to an insurance policy that can't protect you in times of need.
Travel insurance that covers coronavirus (Covid-19)
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in early 2020, many customers found that illness and travel disruption due to Covid-19 wasn’t covered on their travel insurance policies.
Since then, many insurers have responded to the spike in demand for travel policies that cover pandemics.
Travelling outside of the UK may carry some risk of coronavirus exposure for the next few years. Having travel insurance with some form of cover for Covid-19 could save you thousands of pounds if you’re hospitalised, quarantined or have your holiday cancelled entirely due to the pandemic.
Please note: there are no policies we have found that will provide coronavirus cover if you’re travelling against Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice or Government restrictions. This includes lockdowns and travel bans. It’s highly likely that your travel insurance will be void if you choose to travel against official advice, regardless of the insurer you choose.
Here are some of the top insurers offering coronavirus cover.
One of LV='s most recent benefits is their coronavirus cover. It pays out if you’re hospitalised with Covid-19 abroad, or if your trip has to be cancelled because you or your travelling companion are diagnosed with coronavirus. It also covers you if your trip is cancelled following a government order to quarantine on the suspicion that you may have coronavirus.
One of the biggest expenses that LV= will cover is emergency repatriation costs. This means that your insurance will pay for you to be flown back to the UK if the FCDO impose travel restrictions while you’re on holiday.
The Post Office recently updated it’s travel insurance policies to include Covid-19 cover. You’ll now get extra protection for cancellation within 14 days of your trip should you test positive. You're also covered for curtailment if you test positive for Covid-19. This applies at either your outward departure point or upon arrival at your destination.
Importantly, the Post Office will cover emergency medical and repatriation expenses if you contract the coronavirus while abroad.
Columbus Direct regularly adapts its travel insurance coverage in response to the latest developments in the pandemic. As of April 2021, newly purchased policies will cover cancellation of your trip if you or your travelling companion fall ill or you need medical treatment abroad due to contracting Covid-19. You're also covered if you test positive before your trip and you’re forced to cancel as a result.
Columbus Direct also covers emergency repatriation costs if you have to be taken back to the UK due to coronavirus-related illness.
Best travel insurance for the USA
The USA is one of the most popular destinations for UK holidaymakers. There’s a huge range of options for tourists, from quick city breaks in New York to surfing in California. It helps that there are no language barriers for Brits too.
However, travel insurance costs much more for trips to America than it does if you’re travelling to other countries. This is because the price of medical treatment is so high in the USA: it can cost £100,000 to treat an infection in a Californian hospital.
To get full coverage before going to the USA, you need to choose a single-trip or annual multi-trip policy that includes the USA and Canada. You can make your decision partly on price here because travelling to the US adds to your premium, as long as you’re comparing policies with good levels of cover.
Here are some of the best current policies available:
LV='s ‘Worldwide’ area cover includes Canada and the USA. While some other insurers offer more than LV=’s £10m medical cover, few can match its 90-day maximum trip duration. With LV=, you’re more likely to be covered if you’re on a long trip to the USA or if you’re hospitalised for several weeks.
With £20m for emergency medical cover on its Platinum policy, Admiral boasts the highest health cover limit we could find among the travel insurers we reviewed (as of April 2021). This includes cover in the USA if you choose a Worldwide policy option.
The only downside is that Admiral's maximum trip duration is fairly low at just 31 days, so this policy is better suited to short trips.
If you’re an AA member, it might be worth considering their Gold travel insurance policy because you could get a waiver on your excess. That means you could get £15m emergency medical cover for your USA trip without having to pay out anything at all. Plus, the AA’s coverage extends to trips as long as 62 days, so it's suitable for longer holidays like road trips — for which the USA is renowned.
If you’re over 50, it’s worth looking at Saga Travel Insurance or StaySure for the best deals on travel insurance and because they may have more competitive prices at higher age ranges. Please note that many travel insurance policies will not offer you standard cover if you’re over 74 years old.
Travel insurance for people with pre-existing medical conditions
Many of the big providers will refuse to provide quotes if you disclose a pre-existing condition, depending on what it is and its severity. This is because many firms do not have specialist knowledge to deal with pre-existing medical conditions.
However, a handful of travel insurance providers can cater for you even if you have chronic illnesses that may need treatment while you’re abroad.
The Post Office Money will cover most pre-existing medical conditions on its travel insurance policies. It lists diabetes, asthma and heart conditions (such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure) as the most common ones it covers. If you have a different medical condition, you may still be covered: the Post Office will run medical screenings online or over the phone to confirm with a quote.
Columbus Direct gives you the option to add cover for pre-existing conditions online (some medical screening may be required). This might be considered crucial for anyone with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart problems. With Columbus Gold, you also get £15 million emergency medical cover with a 45-day maximum trip duration.
Saga specialises in providing insurance for over 50s, so it makes sense that their travel policies would cater for pre-existing medical conditions. It means that you can claim up to £10 million for medical expenses if your illness flares up while you’re abroad and you need treatment. Saga will also pay up to £1,000 for associated expenses (food, for example) during your stay in hospital.
You can learn more by reading our in-depth guide to travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions.
The best insurance companies for skiing and winter sports
Skiing and snowboarding are regarded as high-risk activities by insurance companies. That’s because injuries are common in winter sports and it can be expensive to evacuate someone for treatment.
Insurers often offer winter sports cover as an add-on or a standalone specialist policy to mitigate these high costs.
What should a good winter sports policy include?
- A high level of medical cover — Skiing injuries can be very costly to treat, especially if you need to be airlifted to safety. Make sure you have at least £10m cover for emergency medical expenses.
- A wide range of sports and activities — Look for policies that cover every type of activity you think you might partake in, including things like tobogganing and snowmobiling. While not all insurers will include these as standard, some will offer them as an upgrade.
- Off-piste cover — Any part of a slope outside a marked run can be classed as off-piste, even a well-used shortcut between two green runs. Not all insurers will cover off-piste. Those that do may only cover off-piste skiing within certain boundaries or with an instructor, so check the policy wording. Learn more about off-piste skiing cover.
- Low excesses — Saves you from paying out more than you can afford if you’re injured on the slopes.
- High personal liability cover — This means the insurance company will pay out if you injure someone and they seek compensation from you. This may be included in your standard travel policy. Look for policies with at least £2m personal liability cover.
- Equipment cover — Many insurers will also replace broken equipment, whether it’s hired or owned. This includes things like skis, snowboards, and ski clothing.
Bear in mind that holiday insurance companies often need you to pay an extra premium to take part in activities that they think are more dangerous, such as snowmobiling. Also, you may not have any personal liability cover for these activities. It’s best to check your policy documents and make sure you’re getting covered for everything you need.
And what if you arrive at the slopes, and there’s no snow? Some insurers will pay out if you end up not being able to ski because of poor conditions, or even pay to relocate you to somewhere where you can ski.
We’ve listed some of the best insurers for winter sports below.
Columbus Direct offers one of the best travel insurance benefits for thrill-seekers: cover for over 150 sports and activities at no extra cost. If you want cover for skiing, though, you’ll need to add Winter Sports Cover to your policy. You’ll be protected on- and off-piste for both skiing and snowboarding as long as you stay within the resort boundaries. You’re also covered for emergency medical rescue by helicopter if necessary. Better still, Columbus Direct will even cover your equipment, whether hired or owned.
Direct Travel Insurance covers many sports and activities as standard in its policies. You can add winter sports cover to your package from as little as £18.83 per trip, according to the Direct Travel website (correct as of April 2021). This add-on covers you for off-piste skiing as well as 30 winter sports and lost, stolen or damaged equipment. For an annual multi-trip policy, you can get winter sports cover from 17 to 45 days, and even make a claim if the piste you’re visiting is closed for more than 12 hours.
Adding LV='s winter sports cover to your travel insurance policy means you’re protected for skiing (including off-piste and cross-country), snowboarding, snowblading and sledging, along with several other niche winter sports. On a single trip policy, you can get cover for up to 31 days. On LV=’s Premier policy, you can also claim for up to £10,000 if your ski trip is cancelled due to bad weather.
Cover for more adventurous skiing and snowboarding activities
If you're looking for insurance that covers more advanced or adventurous activities like heliskiing, you may want to consider a specialist policy. Insurers such as Snowcard, Ergo and Dogtag offer specialist adventure packs to cover particular sports or activities.
Snowcard allows you to personalise your insurance to fit your needs, which is a useful way of bringing your premium down if, for instance, you don't need baggage cover. Ergo allows you to upgrade your ski insurance to Pro to encompass backcountry touring, heli-skiing, cat-skiing and Park & Pipe.
For more information on skiing off-piste, check out our article.
Backpacker travel insurance
Choosing travel Insurance for a backpacking trip or a gap year is more complicated than finding the best insurance for a conventional holiday. This is because backpackers tend to embark on longer trips that keep them away from home for prolonged periods, so they’re more likely to be injured or sick while abroad at some point.
Backpacking insurance — also called gap year insurance — is a way that insurers can provide specialist cover for those embarking on long trips across multiple territories.
The key things to look out for in a policy if you’re thinking of backpacking are:
- Cancellation cover — Make sure that your policy will pay out if your trip is cancelled, and make sure the limit is high enough to cover the cost of pre-booked flights and excursions.
- Detailed limits — Many backpacker travel insurance policies have baggage limits that appear high enough to cover the theft or loss of a laptop, phone, or camera. However, cheaper policies have more detailed limits (such as single item, valuables or gadget limits) that can prevent such a claim. The best policies give you sufficient cover even at this granular level. Look out for single item limits that are higher than the cost to replace your most valuable belongings.
- Low excess — When backpacking, you‘ll tend not to have a lot of spare cash, so paying a hefty excess if you need a claim can hurt your budget for things like food and accommodation. Look for policies with low or even zero excess.
- Activities cover —- The best backpacker insurance companies cover a wide range of adventure sports as standard.
- Flexibility — Cheap backpacker insurance policies can prevent you from extending your trip, and regard your trip to have finished if you pop back home during your travels. By contrast, some insurers allow extensions for a specified duration (e.g. 12 months), provided you contact them in advance.
Below are some of the best travel insurance policies for backpackers.
Flexicover’s Gap Insurance plan grants cover for up to 18 months. As well as offering up to £10 million in medical coverage per person and a generous cancellation cover limit of £5,000, it also insures you for over 100 sports and activities as standard. You’re also covered for stopovers of up to 72 hours for both outward and return journeys.
Top Dog offers several specialist policies under its backpacker insurance plans, from gap years and solo travel to volunteering and working abroad. Top Dog covers you for up to 18 months, with 100+ activities included, £10 million medical cover, and up to £10,000 cancellation cover per person. What’s more, Top Dog is rated highly by customers on review sites like Trustpilot, where they’ve garnered a rating of 4.3 out of 5 based on more than 1,300 reviews (as of April 2021).
Those who wish to embark on a particularly long trip might consider looking at a backpacker policy with Alpha. It will cover you for up to 24 months (depending on your age and destination) and includes a return-home extension, allowing 2 trips home for up to 21 days each time. Flexible cover means you can extend while you’re away. Plus, you’ll get £10 million emergency medical cover as standard. Alpha is rated Excellent on Trustpilot based on more than 16,000 reviews.
See more of the best backpacker travel insurance companies in our in-depth guide.
Our research into popular backpacker destinations has revealed surprising insights that may be useful for travellers planning trips:
Travel insurance that includes motorcycle cover
If you’re planning a road trip on your motorbike that’ll take you beyond the borders of the UK, you’ll need a travel insurance plan that will cover your bike too.
Most standard travel policies will cover you for a moped with an engine of up to 50cc. Some, like Columbus Direct, will be able to cover motorcycles with engines of up to 125cc as part of their standard activities pack.
You'll need a specialist motorbike travel insurance policy if your motorbike is over 125cc and you're planning on racing or off-roading. Common exclusions to most standard motorcycling travel policies are racing and riding off-road.
You can, however, find policies that will include racing cover. The insurers who do it are normally the ones who will insure powerful bikes. Voyager and Worldwide Insure policies include racing and off-road cover as standard. They also cover bikes of any size motorbike as long as you have a full licence.
It is important to consider a motorbike travel policy that offers cancellation cover (in case a pre-booked trip can’t go ahead) and personal liability cover, to pay out in case you cause an accident resulting in damage to someone or their property.
Check out our full guide to the best motorcycle insurers to learn more.
The best travel insurance for gadgets, phones and laptops
Many people wrongly assume that if they have £2,000 of baggage cover on their travel insurance, their Samsung Galaxy S8 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.
Many people wrongly assume that if they have £2,000 of baggage cover on their travel insurance, their Samsung Galaxy 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.
Here are some examples of travel insurers with high single item limits:
- Cedar Tree — Cedar Tree’s Platinum policy offers £500 gadget cover with the option to extend your cover to £3,000.
- Top Dog — Top Dog can offer cover of up to £2,000 per item if you take out an optional Gadget Cover policy alongside your travel insurance.
Travel insurance for pets
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 on travel insurance for pets.
Bought By Many's Complete pet insurance policy comes with up to £2,500 of vet fee cover when travelling abroad.
Travel insurance for pregnancy and those with young children
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, so 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.
If you’re flying, you’ll also need to check with your chosen airline because each one has its own limits on travel while pregnant. For example, some airlines will not allow you to fly if your pregnancy is considered full term.
Family travel insurance
A lot of travel insurance companies in the UK offer family travel insurance policies. These policies can usually insure two adults and up to five children. The level of cover should be adequate for an entire family. In addition, if one of you gets sick, you'll be able to use your cancellation cover for the entire party.
However, you should be aware that if your child is travelling alone, a family travel insurance 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.
EHIC and GHIC
When the UK was part of the European Union (EU), you could be covered for some medical expenses with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
However, since the UK left the EU, EHICs have now been replaced with Global Health Insurance Cards (GHICs). This gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the European Union (EU).
You can apply for a GHIC here.
Please note that your GHIC should not replace your travel insurance because GHIC does not cover things like repatriation costs (the price of bringing you back to the UK in a medical emergency), which can be extremely expensive.
Travel Insurance Reviews
We've written in-depth reviews on most of the holiday insurance companies in the UK mentioned in this article.
Travel insurance reviews for single trip and annual multi-trip policies
- 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
- Benefits Alliance Travel Insurance
- Admiral Travel Insurance
- ERV Travel Insurance
- Puffin Travel Insurance Review
- Holidayrisk.com Travel Insurance Review
- Atlas Direct Travel Insurance Review
- Virgin Money Travel Insurance Review
- Thomas Cook Travel Insurance Review
- OUL Direct Travel Insurance Review
- Asda Money Travel Insurance Review
- InsureandGo Travel Insurance Review
- Insurance Republic travel insurance review
- Big Blue travel insurance review
- LV= travel insurance review
- InsuraTrip travel insurance review
- Cedar Tree travel insurance review
- Tripsure travel insurance review
- Multitrip.com travel insurance review
- Holidaysafe travel insurance review
- Direct Line travel insurance review
- Leisure Guard travel insurance review
- CoverCloud travel insurance review
- Co-op travel insurance review
- AXA travel insurance review