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UK Travel Health Insurance

If you’re planning on visiting the UK, you are advised to take out travel health insurance in order to cover potential healthcare costs during your stay.

For more information about your visit to the UK, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our trusted legal advisors today on 0333 305 9375, or contact us online.

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Who Needs Travel Health Insurance When Visiting the UK?

If you’re planning to visit the UK from a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) for less than 6 months, it is recommended that you take out valid travel insurance cover for the whole duration of your stay to help pay for medical care.

If you’re visiting from the EEA, you are entitled to free healthcare with a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) or S2 form.

However, it is also advised that you take out travel health insurance in case of other unexpected expenses and incidents that may occur during your visit, such as repatriation costs or lost or stolen property.

If you’re staying in the UK for more than 6 months, you will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) unless exempt. You will normally have to pay the fee for the IHS when submitting your visa application for your stay.

Paying the IHS allows you to access NHS services. However, it may still be advisable to take out private health insurance on top of that for other services not covered by the IHS during your stay in the UK.

Why Should I Take Out Travel Health Insurance When Visiting the UK?

Travel insurance is an important part of any trip, especially if you end up requiring unexpected medical care during your stay.

If you are visiting the UK from a non-EEA country, you will be charged at 150% of the standard NHS rate if you have not arranged insurance. As a result, it’s essential that you purchase travel insurance with medical cover before travelling to the UK so you can reclaim any healthcare costs you are required to pay from your insurer.

Travel insurance is also important as your pre-existing health insurance policy may not cover you outside of your home country, or its international coverage may be limited.

In addition, there is also the possibility of falling ill unexpectedly, suffering accidents, illness, or needing medical care because of pre-existing conditions.

Travel health insurance may also help to cover costs if your travel or accommodation plans change unexpectedly or if you misplace important documents such as your passport or airline tickets. Many insurance policies will provide you with assistance with these matters as well as reimburse you if there will be any financial costs incurred.

What Should My Travel Health Insurance Cover?

Your travel health insurance to the UK should cover most of the following:

  • Emergency medical expenses, including ambulance, medication and hospital fees
  • Medical treatment for pre-existing medical conditions
  • Personal injury and accidents
  • Repatriation costs
  • Reimbursement for any unused travel and accommodation costs should your trip be cut short
  • Cover for lost or damaged items, including luggage, passports, credit cards, money or airline documents
  • Emergency legal aid and translation services
  • Assistance in finding suitable medical facilities in the UK

It’s important to check that the travel insurance cover necessary travel and healthcare needs to make sure you can get the treatment and medical care abroad during the period of your visit.

Insurance is particularly important for those with pre-existing medical conditions. You must tell your insurance company about any pre-existing medical conditions you have to make sure you can get the cover you need. In some cases, you may have to take out specialist cover rather than standard cover for this.

It’s advised to speak to your doctor for advice before you travel and make plans for how to care for your condition when you are in the UK. You should also bring your health condition identification or a letter saying what medication you are taking.

What Isn’t Covered By Travel Health Insurance?

Travel health insurance policies often have exclusions, which are specific situations or circumstances that will not be covered by the insurance policy.

For example, not declaring your pre-existing medical condition to your insurer will mean that you won’t be able to claim for medical care related to your condition during your trip.

In addition, you likely won’t be able to claim back costs if you do any of the following:

  • Travel against government advice, such as if the country you’re travelling from places an active travel warning on the UK
  • Travel despite known events, such as natural disasters or pandemics
  • Incur losses due to carelessness or lack of reasonable safety measures, such as leaving your belongings unattended in a public place
  • Engage in reckless behaviour, such as ignoring safety protocols, safety instructions, or if you injured yourself under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Break the law, such as violating local traffic laws

In addition to these, if you cancel or change your plans for any reason not listed in your base plan, you won’t be able to claim the costs on your insurance.

However, most insurance providers will provide an optional Cancel For Any Reason coverage to your policy that will allow you to change or cancel plans for any reason and claim back some or all of the money.

It’s essential that you familiarise yourself with the details of your insurance policy carefully before setting off on your trip to the UK. Many travel health insurance policies have strict guidelines on what they do and do not cover, so it’s important to know what these are in order to prevent unexpected costs during your trip.

What Else Should I Look For When Taking Out an Insurance Policy?

As previously mentioned, it’s essential that your insurance policy covers any essential travel and medical expenses that may be incurred during your visit to the UK, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

In addition to this, you should also consider the following:

Who You’re Travelling With

If you’re travelling with other people, it may be cheaper and more convenient to get a single insurance policy that covers the whole party rather than individual policies for each person.

For example, many insurance providers offer travel health insurance for couples, families, or groups of friends.

Note that if a person in your party has a pre-existing medical condition, they may require their own individual specialist cover separate from the rest of the group due to differences in coverage plans.


You may find travel health insurance more expensive if you’re over the age of 65. As a result, you may have to look for specialist policies for older travellers to ensure that you have the coverage you need.

Sports or Recreational Activities

If you plan to take part in sports or recreational activities, you will need to ensure that your travel health insurance covers these. This is especially the case if they’re considered to be high-risk activities, such as surfing, BMX, scuba diving, or winter sports.

Method of Travel

It’s worth noting that some methods of travel such as cruises or budget airlines may be excluded from certain travel insurance policies. You should always make sure that your method of travel is covered by your policy, in case of unexpected delays, cancellations or complications.

Add-ons and Extensions

You may wish to purchase additional add-ons or extensions to your travel health policy. For example, if you’re bringing a lot of expensive gadgets or equipment with you to the UK, you may want to purchase extra gadget cover as part of your insurance policy.

Additionally, you may want to add on additional Cancel For Any Reason cover if you want greater freedom and flexibility in being able to change or cancel your travel plans for reasons not covered by your base policy.

Do I Need Single Trip Cover or Annual Multi-Trip Cover for my Trip?

You can buy either single trip cover or annual multi-trip cover before your departure.

Single trip cover only grants you insurance coverage for a single holiday. Your coverage can start either as soon as you book the holiday or the date of your departure, and will end as soon as you come home.

Meanwhile, annual multi-trip insurance grants you coverage for every single trip you take within a 12 month period. The trips you take during this time may be limited to a certain length of time – for example, 31 days.

It may be cheaper to get annual multi-trip cover if you’re planning to go on several trips in a 12 month period. However, if you’re not planning on making many other trips other than your single trip to the UK, it may be cheaper to stick to single trip cover.

If you’re unsure about how many trips you might take in the next 12 months, it may be cheaper and easier to take out an annual multi-trip policy so you know you are covered if you do decide to go abroad.

It’s always best to carefully examine your own circumstances and plans to see which specific type of cover will be more cost-effective and suitable for you.

When Should I Buy Travel Health Insurance?

It’s usually recommended to buy travel health insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip, or as soon as you’ve made a financial commitment towards it.

This is because it’s best to be covered in the event of your trip being cancelled prior to your departure. Having a valid travel insurance policy will protect you in case any of the following happens:

  • Your trip is cancelled due to weather, or other uncontrollable circumstances
  • You have to cancel your trip due to personal reasons, such as a bereavement
  • You become too ill to travel
  • You’re made redundant before your trip

If any of these happen, it may be the case that your insurer could cover some or all of the costs of your trip.

If you’ve left it late to buy travel health insurance before your visit to the UK, it’s still worth looking for insurance providers who will be able to provide you with quick and immediate cover. You just need to ensure that you’ve not yet left home for your trip and that the insurance policy covers everything you need for your visit.

How Much Does Travel Health Insurance Cost?

How much you will have to pay for travel health insurance depends greatly on a number of factors, such as your age, your health, the length of your trip and the complexity of the cover you need.

The specific figures you’ll pay for your insurance will vary based on your country of residence and the insurance company you choose.

Note that the information below uses British travellers buying insurance for trips away from the UK as an example.

The difference between a single trip and annual multi-trip insurance can be reasonably small. For example, British travellers travelling to Europe may pay around £9 for single trip cover but around £12 for annual multi-trip cover.

The average price for older travellers is also much higher. The average price of a single trip cover for British adults travelling to Europe in their 30s, 40s or 50s maybe around £11. However, this figure jumps up to around £30 for people in their 70s, and over £100 for people in their 80s.

How comprehensive your insurance coverage is will also affect the price. A policy that offers higher levels of coverage will cost more than a policy with basic level coverage, as well as offering lower levels of excess.

For British travellers taking our multi-trip cover to Europe, a cover with £1,000 worth of cancellation cover will cost around $17. For £2,000 cancellation cover, this price rises to around £24. For £3,000, it rises again to around £32.

These prices also rise in a similar way when buying couples, group or family travel health insurance cover.

You will also have to pay additional costs on your insurance policy if you have a pre-existing medical condition or choose to add optional extra cover such as for gadgets, winter sports and Cancel For Any Reason coverage.

Which NHS Services Are Free for Visitors?

When you visit the UK, you will be able to take advantage of certain NHS services that you don’t have to claim for on your travel health insurance.

As a result, you will not need to claim on your insurance if you take advantage of these services during your visit. These include:

  • A&E services (not including emergency medical treatment if admitted to hospital)
  • Family planning services (not including abortions or infertility treatment)
  • Treatment for most infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic violence or sexual violence (does not apply if you have come to the UK to seek this treatment)

In addition, if you’re visiting the UK and need to see a GP, you can register as a temporary patient with a local GP practice.

You will need to be in the area for more than 24 hours but less than 3 months in order to do this.

However, it will be up to the GP practice whether to accept new patients, even if you’re only looking to become a temporary patient.

Other NHS services, such as hospital treatments and prescription medicines, are not free without a valid EHIC, PRC or S2 form or if you’re from a non-EEA country. You should consider travel insurance packages that provide cover for such medical costs and others outside the NHS services.

For assistance with with your visit to the UK, contact us today.

How Can IAS Help?

If you’re planning to travel to the UK, it’s essential to ensure that you have the right coverage to help assist you in the event of accidents, injury or unexpected incidents.

If you have any questions about your trip to the UK, including what type of insurance you need, what type of healthcare you’re entitled to, or what to do in the event of an emergency, IAS is here to help.

We are specialists and immigration lawyers who specialise in advising visitors to the UK as well as assisting them to obtain the right permits and visas and travelling to the UK. We can help advise you on how to get the right insurance cover for your trip, as well as any other concerns you may have about your visit to the UK.

For more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our trusted legal advisors on 0333 305 9375, or contact us through our form online.

We can help you if you need help with your visit to the UK.

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