Advice: Do I really need to purchase travel insurance?

Pat Hutchinson MBE.
Pat Hutchinson MBE.

By Pat Hutchinson MBE, District Manager, Citizens Advice Newtownabbey

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

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, 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, 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 consumed 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 – go to or call at: Citizens Advice Newtownabbey, Dunanney Centre, Rathmullan Drive, Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, BT37 9DQ. Telephone advice is available 9am – 4pm each day on 028 9085 2271 (Lunch 1:00 - 1:30pm), email advice is available at