Travel insurance doesn’t just cover you whilst you are away, it provides cover against problems that may prevent you travelling. So sort out your insurance the minute you book your holiday. Note that we are talking here about personal travel insurance that insures you and your possessions, not any yacht security deposit, damage waiver or similar which is cover for using the yacht.
The sale of travel insurance in the UK has been governed by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and its successor the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) since 2005.
Many tour operators and travel agents used to act as Agents, selling on behalf of insurance companies and issuing the policies. Increasing regulation means often they now act only as Introducers, who simply refer you to the insurers. A number of holiday companies have ceased offering insurance altogether.
Though arguably less convenient, the changes have perhaps benefited the customer (you) as it has encouraged shopping around. Some travel companies had been accused of selling poor value policies, trading on the convenience of being able to sell the insurance at the same time as the holiday.
You will find there are a number of specialist insurers offering cover tailored to sailing. However, many conventional travel policies will also cover sailing.
The arrival of the internet has made finding insurance easier. But whether you are buying new or relying on an existing policy, there are four key aspects I suggest you consider:
- Sailing: Many policies have no restrictions on sailing but some consider it as a dangerous sport and may exclude it. Policies that do cover sailing may do so only if you stay within 12 miles of land. If you’re going on a Bareboat or Flotilla holiday, that’s unlikely to be a problem but if you are doing a mile building trip it could be. So make sure you are covered; a policy that excludes the main activity of your holiday is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
- Booking Conditions: If you are booking a package with flights, most tour operators insist you have personal travel insurance. Some flotilla providers also require this, even if you are booking without flights. Usually, what they really want is to ensure you are covered for repatriation in the event of a medical emergency. The costs of this may otherwise fall on them and hiring a medically equipped jet just for you is a trifle expensive!
- End Supplier failure: With many people now buying the different elements of their holiday separately, some insurance now includes cover for suppliers going bust, for example if your airline fails.
- Your personal requirements: The rest is down to you as to how much cover you want, how much of any loss/expense you’re prepared to pay yourself (the excess) and how much you are willing to pay! It’s worth checking out longer term and family policies which can offer better value than single trip/single person cover. Banks and card issuers sometimes offer free or reduced policies. Do make sure you declare any salient information, such as existing medical conditions which may otherwise result in claims being disallowed (even if apparently irrelevant to your claim).
Note that European travellers can take advantage of reciprocal heath care arrangements by getting a free European Health Insurance card (EHIC). This is a good idea even if you buy travel insurance – your insurers may be reluctant to fund any treatment you could have got for free!