Travel insurance

How to choose the right travel insurance in Ireland

With so many types of travel insurance and levels of cover on offer, it’s difficult to know which is the right one for you. Here’s how to ensure you get the right cover at a good price for your holiday or trip abroad.

Types of travel insurance

Travel insurance providers in Ireland tend to offer the choice of:

  • Single trip or annual multi-trip cover
  • Backpacker cover
  • Winter sports & ski cover
  • Family travel cover

Some insurers also offer senior travel insurance specifically for the over 65s. Read our guide How to get travel insurance as you get older for an in-depth look at what’s available in Ireland and how to get the right price.

Other types we’ve seen are golf travel insurance, long-stay cover and and student travel insurance.

What type of policy do you need?

You need to find a travel policy that’s the right fit for you and your trip, so to start, you’ll need to consider things like:

  • Who the cover is for: If it’s not just for you, compare the cost of a joint, group or family travel insurance against individual policies, as having everyone on one policy is often cheaper.
  • Where you’re going: Research the country you’re visiting to work out the cover you need. For example, if you’re visiting the USA, don’t scrimp on medical expenses and repatriation cover as a hospital stay could set you back thousands of euro.
  • How often you’ll travel: If you have one holiday, then a single trip policy is best, but if you’re making three or more trips a year, an annual policy will be cheaper.
  • How long you’ll be away: Single trip and annual or multi-trip policies usually set a maximum duration of 30 to 60 days per trip. If you’re going away for longer, backpacker insurance offers cover for up to two years.
  • What activities you’ll be doing: If you’re looking to do any high risk activities like skiing or bungee jumping, you may need specialist cover. Always check what each policy covers before you buy.
  • What you need to take: If you can’t bear to leave your gadgets behind, check that the baggage claim limit covers the cost of your personal items if they’re lost or stolen.

Single or annual multi-trip cover?

Annual multi-trip cover is more expensive than single trip insurance but could work out cheaper if you travel often. Here’s pros and cons of both:

Single trip travel insurance

A single trip policy insures you for one booked holiday or business trip abroad. Most policies cover trips up to 30 days long, but some offer cover for up to 60 days.

  • Cheaper than annual cover for just one trip a year
  • Cancellation cover starts when you buy your policy
  • It’s easier to get cover for a one off trip if you’re older
  • You’ll pay more per trip than with an annual policy
  • You’re only covered for the dates of your trip
  • You’ll need to get a new policy if you travel again

Annual multi-trip travel insurance

An annual or multi-trip policy insures you for all the trips you make in a year.

Each policy sets a maximum duration for each trip (usually 30 to 60 days) and a combined total number of days you can be away for over the year (around 180 days).

  • Cheaper per trip if you travel three or more times a year
  • One policy for the year gives you peace of mind and saves time
  • Includes nights away in Ireland (if they’ve been pre-booked)
  • Can be harder to get if you’re an older traveller
  • You’ll pay more than you need if you only travel once or twice
  • You may need to add extra cover for repatriation

Is it cheaper to get a single trip or annual travel insurance?

If you have more than two trips planned, it’s usually cheaper to get an annual policy, but your age and medical history may affect the price.

Other things to consider are:

  • Annual cover: You’ll be covered for any nights away in Ireland, too, as long as you’ve pre-booked your accommodation.
  • Worldwide: If you plan to travel outside of Europe & the UK, choose an annual policy covering worldwide destinations.
  • Maximum duration: Always choose a policy that covers the longest trip you’ll be making, by checking the maximum duration policy details.

What is backpacker travel insurance?

It’s an insurance policy designed for travellers on a long trip or holiday abroad.

Most standard travel policies only offer cover for up to 30 days per trip, but some will cover you for up to 60 days. With backpacker policies, you can

  • Allow cover for up to two years.
  • Most group destinations by region, so you can choose where you’re going, for example, Europe, Asia or Worldwide.
  • You can opt for multiple regions without taking out a separate policy for each one, perfect if you’re exploring several destinations in one trip.

Who should take out backpacker travel insurance?

If you’re planning a holiday or trip that will last for more than a month, then backpacker cover could be the right choice for you. They often have a lower maximum age limit than standard policies, sometimes as low as 35, so you should always check the limit.

Backpacker insurance is well suited to specific groups, including:

  • Students
  • Gap year travellers
  • Anyone on a J1 trip
  • Anyone doing a work placement

What extra cover does it offer?

Backpacker insurance offers the same cover as a normal travel policy, including:

  • Emergency medical expenses
  • Cancellation
  • Personal liability cover
  • Baggage cover

What extras does it offer for students?

Extras differ from one insurer to another, so always check exactly what’s included with each policy and what you have to pay extra for.

Some policies offer extras to cater to students or for long term travel, for example:

  • Working oversea covers: Always check what type of work is covered before you start. Some high-risk work, like operating machinery, may be excluded.
  • Adrenaline activities cover: This includes sports and activities like hiking and water sports. Always check exactly what activities are included, as this varies.
  • Exam failure cover: If you plan your trip and need to return to Ireland to resit exams, your insurance policy will cover the cost of your flights.
  • Natural catastrophe cover: Can offer extra protection if your trip is cut short by a natural disaster or you’re stranded at a destination waiting for a flight.

Winter sports & ski travel insurance

Winter sports and ski travel insurance includes extra protection for activities like skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing.

Some standard travel insurance policies exclude these activities because they’re high risk, and the cost of medical care on the slopes can be very expensive.

You can add winter sports insurance to both single trip and annual policies, but yearly policies usually limit the total number of days you’ll be covered for, so always check this.

For example, an annual insurance policy may only include 14 days of winter sports each year as standard, so if you’re planning a long trip or several ski breaks, look out for this.

What does it cover?

On top of the cover you get from a standard travel policy, you’ll also get extra protection for things like:

  • Injury on the slopes: including emergency mountain evacuation and medical treatment if you fall ill or are seriously hurt while skiing or snowboarding.
  • Piste & avalanche closure: this refunds you the transport cost to an alternative resort if your destination closes due to a lack of snow or avalanche.
  • Ski pack: this refunds any unused portion of your ski passes or ski tuition if you’re ill or injured on your holiday and unable to take part.
  • Ski equipment: this covers loss or damage to your ski or snowboarding equipment during your trip and usually includes the equipment you own or hire.

Family travel insurance

Family travel insurance is a policy covering your whole family, so you don’t need to take out individual policies.

A family policy is often cheaper than taking out separate cover for each person, plus some insurers let you add children to your policy for free.

What does it cover?

It will cover everything a standard travel policy covers, plus you can include two adults and your dependent children under 18.

Some insurers may restrict the number of children or adults you can include, so if you have:

  • A large family: Check the maximum number of children you can add to the policy
  • Children over 18: You may have to take out a group policy or arrange separate insurance
  • More than two adults: In your family group - you’ll need to check with the insurer

As with individual policies, you must declare any pre-existing medical conditions any of your family have before getting a quote. Certain conditions mean you won’t be covered, so separate cover could be the best option.

If any of your children are due to go on school trips abroad, check if they’re covered to travel without the rest of the family, some policies offer this as standard, but others don’t.

What level of cover do you need?

Firstly, check what your home insurance and private health insurance policies already cover you for and whether you have travel insurance through your credit card or current account. If so, make sure it offers enough cover for your trip.

Most insurers offer three levels of cover for each type of policy, ranging from basic, which is the cheapest, to premium, which is the most expensive.

Premium policies offer higher cover limits, and they tend to cover you for more eventualities.

For example, a premium policy often includes cover for winter sports which is of no use to you if you’re going on a sunny holiday to Spain.

Don’t scrimp on essentials like medical expenses but don’t pay extra for cover you don’t need.

Choose the right level of excess

The excess is the amount you agree to pay towards a claim, so the higher the excess, the cheaper the policy is likely to be. A basic level policy may have an excess of around €150, which is the amount you’d have to pay against most claims.

  • Some premium travel insurance policies offer zero excess, so you won’t have to pay anything if you make a claim.
  • Spending a few more euro upfront for a premium policy could save you money if you had to make a claim.
  • Look at the policy as a whole, not just the excess, to ensure it offers the cover you need.

How to compare travel insurance

Once you’ve worked out what type of policy you need, it’s time to shop around, but picking the right policy can be tricky with so many insurers to choose from.

Here are some pointers to help you compare the cover:

  • Compare standard policy prices and the benefits on offer
  • Weigh up the costs of a single trip policy versus annual cover based on how often you travel
  • Check how much cover you get for each benefit - most insurers offer 2 or 3 levels of cover and price
  • Check for exclusions and make sure you’re covered for what’s advertised
  • Compare the cost of add-ons if you need them and factor them into the total cost
  • Seek out online reviews if you’re still unsure about your choice

Tips to get the right travel insurance

The bottom line is there isn’t one travel insurer or policy in Ireland that’s best, but you need to find a policy that fits your trip and circumstances.

Here are three simple steps to make that happen:

  1. Compare quotes online: Get quotes from several travel insurance companies to find the lowest prices and right features.
  2. Read the small print: Don’t rely on a list of advertised benefits; check the full policy document for hidden exclusions, excesses and conditions.
  3. Buy it online: Take advantage of discount codes that pop up while you’re getting quotes or look for multi-cover discounts.

For more information about buying travel insurance in Ireland, how to claim, and holiday consumer rights, visit our Complete guide to travel insurance.

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