Simon Bentley
Author: Simon Bentley, Head Of Customer Interaction

Simon has over 15 years experience in the insurance industry and looks after our website, making sure our customers have the best experience possible!

Originally posted: 16th Jul 2020

So you’ve booked your holiday and now you’re looking at your travel insurance, but why is it more expensive in certain countries, compared to others?

Your travel insurance provider will take into account four main criteria when setting the cost of travel insurance:

  • How long you are going away for.
  • Your age.
  • The health conditions that you need to cover and their severity.
  • Where you are travelling to.

There’s not much you can do about your age, or your medical conditions, and you probably don’t want to shorten your holiday, but you can choose your holiday destination carefully to reduce the potential cost of travel insurance for medical conditions.

Typically the UK and European destinations generate cheaper travel insurance premiums compared to the rest of the world.  This is because the countries in Europe are closer to the UK, so often flights and travel costs are lower. If you need to claim for cancellation for example, it will be a lesser amount than if you’re cancelling a flight to Australia, and so providers charge less. 

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Travel destinations and your pre-existing medical conditions

Depending on your pre-existing medical condition this may affect the price of your policy to cover you. It’s best to keep in mind that if you’re visiting a country whose healthcare system is mainly privatised it could also cost you more if you intend to visit there.

Providers take the potential costs of treating your specific medical conditions into account, so you may find, for instance, some countries in Europe may be more expensive than others to get cover for.

Spain, Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Malta, Greece, Cyprus

These areas operate a high level of privatised healthcare so travel insurance tends to cost more to cover pre-existing medical conditions than other areas of Europe. That’s not to say you will not be able to access NHS equivalent treatment in these places, but if it’s an emergency you may not be given the choice.

It’s also worth knowing that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) cannot be used in private hospitals and treatment centres, making medical travel insurance essential! 

If you have pre-existing medical conditions and have been declined cover for any of the above areas, try getting a quote for another area of Europe and you may have better success in being accepted for cover.

USA, Canada, Caribbean, China and Hong Kong

For people living with pre-existing medical conditions and those over the age of 60, these areas can be particularly tricky to get cover for. So, it’s best to get travel insurance quotes to these areas before booking a trip to avoid disappointment. The reasons why travel insurance can be difficult and costly is all to do with the potential risk of claiming to receive expensive medical treatment whilst there. 

The USA is notorious for its expensive medical bills. And although medical services in the Caribbean Islands may be cheaper, there is a strong possibility you will be flown to the USA should you become unwell and require advanced treatment. Repatriation back to the UK is extremely costly from these areas which also contributes to the higher insurance premiums. 

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Travel insurance for Australia

You will be pleased to learn that a reciprocal healthcare agreement exists between Australia and the UK. This entitles British Citizens travelling on a UK passport to subsidised medical treatment from Medicare Australia. However, it doesn’t cover non-urgent treatment or pre-existing medical conditions, which is why having adequate travel insurance in place when travelling to Australia is important.

Travel insurance quotes for Australia tend to be more reasonable than USA, Canada, Caribbean, China and Hong Kong, and easier to get accepted for cover when you have pre-existing medical conditions, but be aware if you’re travelling to Australia and stopping via any of the higher rated areas mentioned, you will need to tell your insurer, which may increase your premium.

Which countries do I have to have travel insurance for?

Travel insurance is not compulsory everywhere – however there are some countries that do require you to be covered by a travel insurance policy in order to enter at the border, such as: Equador, Cuba, Denmark, Russia, Slovenia, & Switzerland.

Note: this information is subject to change in light of any sudden amendments to legislation concerning travel. Therefore, you should always check the Foreign Travel Advice sections on the GOV.UK website – or the tourist bureau for the country concerned.

Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to add each country that you are visiting. If you are on a flight stopover this will include any countries where you leave the airport. If you are on a cruise it includes any countries where your ship will be docking at.
If you are taking out single trip cover, and have cancellation cover included, you'll be covered for cancellation from the moment you buy your policy. However, if you are taking out annual trip cover, and have cancellation cover included, you'll be covered from the start date of your policy. Consider starting your annual trip cover as soon as possible, especially if you have already booked your trip!
Single trip cover usually can cover you for up to 45 days, but a few providers may be able to cover you for up to 94 days. If you are getting annual trip cover, there will be a maximum amount of days that you are covered for any one trip, but we'll let you know what this is for your quote!
Cancellation amounts will be per person. So, if you were going on a trip for 2 people which cost £1,000 in total you would ideally need cancellation cover for at least £500.
If you don't travel much then a single trip cover is perfect as you can cover specific dates suited to your trip. If you have cancellation cover, you'll also benefit from this as soon as you buy your policy. If you travel 2 or more times a year, it may be cheaper for you to go for an annual trip cover. It's best to start your annual trip cover as soon as possible, as if you have cancellation cover, you'll only benefit from this from your policy start date.
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