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Family travel insurance: What you need to know

Written by: Anna-Marie Duthie
If you’re going on holiday with your nearest and dearest, then family travel insurance may be worth considering. Here’s what you need to know, and what you need to watch out for.

The main attraction for a family travel policy is undoubtably the ease of having everyone under the same cover, and only having to buy one policy.

They may also offer better value for money, being cheaper than buying individual policies for each family member.

Usually, family policies are considered to be two adults and their children, who permanently live at the same address. There is of course the availability for single parent families, and many will include foster children within the family definition.

Benefits do not differ in the way they are applied under a family policy. However, some may offer slightly higher overall limits for things like baggage or cancellation.

Independent travel from the family

If you have bought or are looking to buy annual family travel insurance, you’d be forgiven for thinking you are all covered for your trips for the rest of the year.

Dependent upon which policy you choose, you may not be getting the cover you think you are. For the first time in a long time, many of us may be planning more than that all important family summer holiday this year.

We might have visits to family or friends who we have been unable to see; stag or hen dos and weddings that may have been delayed. As such, you may not always be travelling as one family unit and consequently you need to be sure that the insurance you have allows you to travel separately.

The good news is that for adults, the vast majority (93%) will allow you to travel independently of each other under the policy, however almost one in 10 (7%) do not allow it.

If you have children, it’s not always straight forward. Almost half (48%) of annual travel policies will not allow children to travel independently of the policy holder. Therefore, if your children were going away with grandparents or friends without you, they would not be covered under your family travel insurance and would need to buy separate cover before they travel.

Consideration needs to be given not just to whether your children are covered to travel independently of you, but also if they have cover under your policy in the first place.

Most policies will only cover children which ‘usually reside with you’. Therefore, if you have children who live elsewhere, for example, from a previous relationship living with the other parent, almost 20% of policies would not cover them if they were to travel with you.

This is also the case with stepchildren, where 19% of policies either do not provide cover at all, or only cover them if they reside with you.

Adult children

These aren’t the only conditions surrounding children either. While most policies cover ‘all’ the adults’ children (living at the same address), limits can in some instances be placed upon the number of children allowed under one policy.

There will also be maximum age limits within which they are classed as a ‘child’, commonly being 17 or 18 years old, but it can be as low as 15. These age limits are often increased for children who are in full-time education. Nearly a third (30%) of current annual policies cover a ‘child’ of 20 years or more, with the highest available being 24 years old.

With many of our family units looking quite different to each other, it is important to ensure you are choosing a policy which will cover yours, and the way in which you want to travel, be it together or separately.

The best way of doing this is to ensure you check the policy definitions and terms ahead of purchasing one of the 800+ annual travel insurance policies on the market to ensure it is right for you and your circumstances.

Anna-Marie Duthie is insight consultant (general insurance) at financial information and ratings firm Defaqto.

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