Advice: Do I really need to get travel insurance?

Pat Hutchinson MBE.
Pat Hutchinson MBE.

By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Newtownabbey CAB

Q: I am 55 years old and have high blood pressure, but I take medication and I’m generally okay and have no other health issues. I’m booking a holiday abroad and I’m trying to keep the cost down. Do I really need to get travel insurance?

A: Having a comprehensive policy in place is absolutely essential for all travellers whatever age or health; you need to be protected should the worst happen.

Firstly you need to declare all medical conditions. While you may be tempted to keep quiet about pre-existing medical conditions when applying for cover, this is a risky move.

Claims arising from conditions that you already have will not be covered unless you have declared all your medical history, as well as hospital visits and the medication you are taking.

We all carry expensive gadgets i.e. mobile phones or iPads to name a few, so check the policy limit on high-value gadgets. Most insurers have an overall limit for the amount you can claim for expensive items, so make sure you check this. If not, you could end up out of pocket should you need to make a claim.

Not all sports will be covered as standard. ‘Risky’ activities such as bungee jumping or scuba diving may not. So if you are planning on taking part in any, you should check with your insurer to see if cover is available, or if you can pay a premium to include that activity.

One that has been in the headlines lately is that policies may not pay out if you’ve been drinking. Policies often have exclusions for being under the influence of alcohol.

This means that if you need to make a claim after having consuming alcohol, it could potentially invalidate your cover, leaving you to foot the bill for medical expenses and other costs.

When choosing a policy, never buy on price alone, as cheaper policies may have a high excess or have exclusions. The key is to look carefully at what is offered, and the service that comes with it.

• Get free, confidential and independent advice from your nearest Citizens Advice Bureau or log on to

Call Newtownabbey CAB, Dunanney Centre, Rathcoole on 028 9085 2271 or email