How to find the best deals on student travel insurance
Got a holiday planned but STILL yet to get travel insurance? For less than a tenner, you can properly relax on holiday knowing that you're fully covered – here's how.
Nobody likes thinking about worst case scenarios when getting excited about their holidays.
But, if you can spare a minute between daydreaming about the sun, sea and sangria after the last months of revision and exam stress, we'd seriously advise spending a small bit of cash on a travel insurance policy to cover yourself in case something goes wrong.
The good news is, if you do your research and you're smart about which policy you choose, it doesn't have to cost much more than two pints of beer. Here's what you need to know.
What's in this guide?
Do you really need travel insurance?
The short answer is YES. Most holidays go swimmingly, but if something does go wrong while you're out of the UK, you can end up with a serious bill to deal with that could've been avoided with one small payment before you set off. It's a no-brainer.
The US and Australia 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.
To give an idea of how much medical treatment can cost in other countries, in South Korea it averages at an unbelievable cost of £28,938.
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 your hols, you'll be kicking yourself for not having the foresight to get insured 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.
What about the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
While the UK's still in the European Union, you can keep using your EHIC card which gives you basic healthcare at a reduced cost when visiting any countries within the European Economic Area.
These cards are free – you just need to submit an online application. Make sure you only apply via this official website, as some scam sites might try 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 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?
Travel insurance policies can cover you for all sorts of things – each one is different, so make sure 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.
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 overnight stay in a US hospital could cost around $4,000 or £3,120 (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
- £1,500 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 too smart. 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 bear in mind that shelling out just an extra couple of quid on your policy could save you thousands if the worst case scenario happened.
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 doesn't travel insurance cover?
There 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, don't see this as a 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 party a lot 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, and this 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
- If you wait around and don't report your situation quickly 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 being able to claim
- If you have an accident as a result of not taking a relevant safety precaution like wearing your seatbelt or a helmet, this could also 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 advises 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 do plan to drive when on holiday, you might be able to get cover through your car insurance provider. Try checking with them first.
How to make a travel insurance claim
Most insurance companies offer a 24-hour hotline 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, 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 and a crime reference number from the local police department, so make sure you report it to the authorities beforehand.
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.
If you pay for something that you expect to be refunded by the insurance company at a later date, for example emergency accommodation if your flight is cancelled, make sure you keep all receipts so you can prove exactly how much everything came to.
Which type of travel insurance policy to go for
When 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), 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, it'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 an annual policy. There are often special policies specifically for trips such as these, so keep your eyes peeled.
Where to buy travel insurance
As much as we'd love to tell you which travel insurance policies are the best, it really does depend on what kind of trip you're going on.
Prices will vary depending on whether you need gadget cover or you're going skiing for example, so your best bet is heading across to a comparison site to scout out the best deals.
They'll allow you to filter results by certain requirements you have. For example, if you want medical cover of at least £2 million, you can make sure you're only seeing policies which will provide that.
What is the Defaqto Rating?
You'll notice that each policy is displayed next to a Defaqto star rating, ranging from one to five.
This rating basically indicates how comprehensive the cover is – a five-star policy will cover lots more than one-star. However, bear in mind that you might not need those extra add ons, especially if you're just heading off on a quick weekend break.
The Defaqto rating is a useful indication of how extensive policies are, but not necessarily whether it's the right one for you.
The best student travel insurance
As one of the biggest names in student travel, it makes sense that STA Travel offer 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.
You can also get coverage for studying abroad, working holidays (like farming and ski seasons), and volunteering.
Endsleigh is the biggest name in student insurance as they specialise in providing affordable policies for young people – plus, they're the only insurance provider recommended by the NUS.
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.
The best perk? You'll get a sweet 15-20% discount with a TOTUM/NUS Extra card.
Note: Comparison tools are normally the quickest route to the cheapest deals, but insurance providers that are tailored specifically for students might offer more suitable coverage or a discount.
Just in case you need an excuse to travel more, we know of nine ways travelling makes you more employable.