If you’re travelling abroad, whether on holiday or business, it’s important to pick up a travel insurance policy before you go.

While a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which you can apply for from the Department of Health, will entitle you to some free healthcare in certain countries within the European Union, few countries offer a full equivalent to the NHS. So even if you’re just travelling in Europe, an accident or illness that leaves you in need of medical attention, could work out very expensive if you haven’t got travel insurance.

If you’re travelling outside of the EU – especially to countries such as the US, where the cost of healthcare is very high – travel insurance is an essential.

Here are five steps to ensure you get great value cover that is right for you.


Check out Fairer Finance’s ratings

Fairer Finance ranks travel insurers based on what their customers think of them, how good they are at handling complaints and how transparent they are. When you’re buying insurance, you want the reassurance that your policy is likely to pay out when you need it.

By choosing a company that has earned either a Bronze, Silver or Gold Fairer Finance ranking, you can have some additional peace of mind that you’re likely to be in safe hands. Take a look at our tables before you head off to buy a policy.


Use a good comparison site

Once you know which companies treat their customers well, you’ll need to move on and compare prices. By clicking on the Compare Rates buttons in our table, you’ll be taken off to one of our panel of comparison site partners, who can help you search the market for a competitive deal.

If you travel abroad several times a year, you’re likely to find that an annual policy is cheaper than single trip cover. Once you get your results of your search, look out for the companies who ranked highly in the Fairer Finance tables.


Could you do better going direct?

Some insurers – such as Aviva and Direct Line - choose not to be on comparison sites. Both of these companies are Fairer Finance Ribbon winners, so they may still be worth a look.

If you want to get a quote from these companies, you’ll need to approach them directly.


Make sure you get the right cover

Before you commit to a purchase, check that you’re clear on what’s covered and what isn’t. It’s advisable to have at least £2m in medical cover if you’re travelling outside Europe, and if you want cover for lost of damaged baggage or lost money, you may need to pay an extra premium.

Watch out for policies with high excesses too. These can leave you on the hook for the first few hundred pounds of any claim you make.


Be ready to switch again next year

If you’re buying an annual policy, most insurers will try and ratchet up your premiums if you stay with them for a second year. To make sure you don’t end up getting caught out, put your renewal date in your diary, and be ready to start shopping around in 11 months time.