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Cheap student travel insurance

It's crazy how many students go abroad without travel insurance. For less than a tenner, you can relax on your holiday knowing you're fully covered!
beach holiday chairsCredit: Steven Zwerink

Nobody likes thinking about worst case scenarios when getting excited about their holidays. But if you can spare a moment between daydreaming about sun, sea, sand and sangria after months of sloggin' it hard in the library, we'd seriously advise spending a small amount of cash on a travel insurance policy to cover yourself in case something goes wrong.

You might think you're young, fit and pretty much invincible, but travel insurance is also there to cover you for reasons that are totally out of your control, too. What will you do if your flight is cancelled or your travel company goes bust?

The good news is, if you do your research and are smart about which policy you choose and where you buy it from, it doesn't have to cost much more than the price of two pints!

Still in the planning stages of your trip? Check out our insider tricks for bagging the cheapest flights available for your holiday!

We know there's a lot of information out there and that it can be hard to work out which policy to choose, so we promise to hold your hand through it all until you find the deal that's best for you! Read on to find out everything you need to know before making your decision.

Do I really need travel insurance?

chucktravelinsuranceThe short answer to this is YES. Most holidays go swimmingly, but if something does go wrong while you're outside of the UK, you can end up slapped with a serious bill to deal with that could be avoided with just one small payment before you set off. It's a no-brainer, really!

For example, if you break your leg in Japan, you could be looking at £20,000 just to get it fixed up while you're out there. The US and Australia also have notoriously expensive healthcare, so if you're unlucky enough to fall out of a hammock and break your neck when chilling in Surfer's Paradise, you'll be in a serious pickle without a policy that fully covers you.

Without travel insurance, even the most minor of accidents can end up costing you a small fortune. We can also guarantee that if you get something nicked while you're on hols, you'll be kicking yourself for not having the foresight to insure yourself before you left.

So for that extra peace of mind while you're away, it's well worth investing a little bit of cash into travel insurance!

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

health cardAs a UK citizen, you're lucky enough to be entitled to a European health card, which will give you basic healthcare at a reduced cost when visiting any countries within the European Economic Area.

These cards are also free – you just need to submit an online application. Make sure you only apply via this official website, as some scam sites are trying to charge for applications.

Though the card is really handy, having one in your wallet doesn't mean you no longer need insurance – the EHIC won't cover you for anything other than basic medical treatment.

Therefore, if you were to need to rearrange your travel plans as the result of an accident, you'll be on your own in terms of covering that cost.

What will travel insurance cover?

beach funTravel insurance policies can cover you for all sorts of things – each one is different, so make sure that you always read the fine print and know exactly what your policy includes before agreeing to anything.

If you're planning on getting involved in some sports or adventure activities while you're away, you'll need a policy that explicitly states that you're covered if you have an accident as a result. It might cost a few more quid, but there's no point in buying a cheaper insurance policy that won't pay out. It'll cost you a lot more in the long run!

We would recommend that you go for a policy that covers at least the following:

  • Medical cover of at least £2 million – this might sound like a lot, but when you consider that an over night in a US hospital alone costs almost $4,287 (we love you, NHS!) you'll understand that this sort of coverage is pretty crucial
  • Personal liability cover of £1 million – this is basically the amount you'll be covered for if you cause injury to someone else or damage someone else's property. So, if you plan on letting loose on a quad bike when holidaying in Turkey, this will save you from having to fork out for damages when you crash into the side of some poor person's garden shed (Disclaimer: Save the Student does not condone dangerous driving in any form)
  • Around £3,000 in cancellation cover – if your flight is cancelled or you miss a connecting flight due to delays, this will have you covered. If the airline your flight is booked with goes bust, this will be instantly refundable provided you paid by credit card, so make sure you use a credit rather than debit card when booking your flights!
  • £1,000 in case of loss of baggage – If you're convinced that your Primarni clothes probably aren't worth this much, then you could go for a policy that offers a bit less
  • £250 in case of loss of cash – it's hard to find a policy that will dish out much more than this amount when it comes to loss of cash, essentially because carrying large wads of cash around with you isn't very smart, is it? Therefore, the trick is not to carry around much hard cash whenever possible. Bet you weren't expecting that one! Grab yourself a decent credit card or debit card that doesn't impose charges on international withdrawals, so you can dip in as many times as you need to.

Any policies offering less than this aren't really advised, and just bear in mind that shelling out just an extra couple of quid on your policy could save you thousands if the worst case scenario is to occur.

Also, don't forget to check the excess! Your excess is the amount that you agree to pay up front in the case of an emergency, which will then be topped up by your provider. The lower the excess, the more you'll pay for the policy itself, and vice versa – you can save a bit on your policy if you agree to pay more in excess.

What won't it cover?

car accident insuranceThere are a few details worth knowing about travel insurance before you commit to any one policy. Although insurers are there to reassure you that you'll be financially covered if something goes wrong, you can't be seeing this as green light to do whatever you want on holiday and lose all sense of responsibility!

Here are a few things that insurance companies will be quite strict about:

  • Most policies won't cover you if you've been drinking alcohol or taking illegal drugs. If you're planning to do a lot of partying while you're away, you'll need to take extra care. If you injure yourself whilst drunk, medical staff will have to disclose this in your hospital records meaning it could prevent you from being able to make a claim for medical costs
  • Existing health conditions can seriously affect whether your insurance provider will pay out or not, so if you do have any, make sure that you declare them when you're buying your insurance. Honesty goes a long way in this game!
  • If your items are stolen from an unattended vehicle, you leave your bag on the beach or in the overhead compartment on a train, you won't be covered as this is just plain stupid
  • If you wait around and don't report your situation quick enough (usually within 24 hours) it may void the claim, so stop your sunbathing routine for two minutes and make that call!
  • If you contract a tropical disease that you should've been vaccinated for before arriving this could prevent you from be able to claim – do your research!
  • If you have an accident as a result of not taking a relevant safety precaution like wearing your seatbelt or a helmet this could void your claim. Break your neck falling out of a hammock, however, and you're fully covered!
  • If you've chosen to travel to an area that British FCO advise against, your insurance policy won't be valid. If this is your situation, check out this specialist insurance company (although as you might expect, policies will be a lot more expensive for these regions).

It's also worth noting that driving abroad isn't normally covered by travel insurance (although sometimes it can be so it's worth checking out).

If you plan to drive when on holiday, you might be able to get cover through your car insurance provider. Try checking with them first!

How do I make a claim?

packingMost insurance companies offer a 24-hour hotline, and this is because it's normally required that you file your claim within 24 hours.

So, if you need to report something, call them as soon as possible. Make sure that you keep the telephone number handy, just in case you do need it!

Before you call them, make sure you think carefully about the situation and write down the specifics so you can provide any details they ask for.

If you're reporting a theft, you'll have to provide them with the details of what happened just as you would do when speaking to the police. The insurance company will normally also ask for a police statement, so remember to report it to them too!

Another thing the insurers might ask for is photographic evidence that you owned the stolen item(s). Therefore, it's a good idea to lay out everything of value on your bed before you leave and take a photo of it all. You can then send this to the insurers as proof of ownership when filing your claim.

If you're sick, some insurers will arrange to pay the hospital directly if you need treatment, but do clarify the procedure before paying for your policy.

Which type of policy to go for

Backpacking2When you're choosing a policy, you'll first be faced with two main options – single trip or multi-trip/ annual cover.

As you might've guessed, single cover will insure you for just one trip (normally up to around 31 days, so even if you're InterRailing around Europe, a single trip policy might not be enough), whereas annual will cover every holiday you take over the next year.

Price-wise, if you plan to go abroad more than once in the year, you'll probably be worth taking out annual cover. It's often around the same price as two single-trip policies will cost you anyway.

If you're planning a longer trip such as a backpacking holiday or a gap year, you'll need to take annual. There are often special policies specifically for trips such as these, so keep your eyes peeled!

Oh, looks like you didn't have to keep them peeled for long! We've got the details below…

5 best travel insurance policies for students

We've searched high and low for the best deals available, and this handy list contains five of the best companies for student insurance currently on the market.

It's also worth mentioning that insurance comparison sites such as confused.com and comparethemarket.com are also a good shout if you have some specific requirements but don't have the time or patience to search manually.

An added bonus is that if you use comparethemarket.com even for one single trip policy, you'll be given 2-4-1 cinema tickets for an entire year!
  1. M&S Bank

    M&SbankM&S Bank travel insurance currently ranks as the most highly recommended company to go for according to Which? comparison group.

    They offer both single and annual policies, and cover stretches as high as £10 million in medical costs and £6,000 in cancellation cover!

    Not only this, but if you're a new customer, M&S will give you 15% off on your first policy (so it's probably worth going for annual cover since you'll only get a deal this good once!).

    Find out more »

  2. Explorer Insurance

    Explorer Travel InsuranceExplorer Insurance is another provider that offers brilliant flexibility. Apparently Explorer specialises in policies for over-65s, but from what we've seen, their policies suit young people perfectly well too.

    If you're planning a backpacking trip, this company is especially good to go for. They offer £2 million medical expenses cover and there's a 24-hour emergency assistance service.

    Find out more »

  3. STA Travel

    STA Travel InsuranceAs one of the biggest names in student travel, it makes sense that STA Travel offers some great deals for students.

    They offer budget, standard and premier policies, and cover starts at just 37p per day for single trip, and as little as 22p per day for annual cover.

    There's also the option to add cancellation cover in the event that you need to re-sit your exams instead of going away.

    Find out more »

  4. Endsleigh

    EndsleighEndsleigh are the biggest name in student insurance, as they specifically cater to providing affordable policies to young people – and travel insurance is no exception!

    For this reason, they specialise in gap year and study abroad insurance, so if you're planning an extended trip, they're a good option to check out.

    You can also get single cover or multi cover for your holidays.

    Find out more »

  5. 24/7 Travel Insurance

    24/7 travel insuranceAnother company offering tailored and cost-effective options for students, 24/7 Travel Insurance‘s prices start at around £9.83 for a single trip with up to one month of cover.

    There are several package options, and you can customise your policy depending on what you're planning to get up to while you're away.

    Find out more »

Now it's over to you

Now that wasn't so painful, was it? Hopefully we've covered everything you needed to know, and it's clear that even if you're travelling on a really tight budget – cutting corners when it comes to insurance just isn't worth the risk.

Have we missed anything you want answers to regarding travel insurance? Give us a shout in the comments below, and we'll do our best to help!

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