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What is activity travel insurance?

While many of us conjure up mental images of an expanse of white sandy beaches, poolside bars and/or historic and culturally significant villages, towns and cities awaiting our exploration when our immediate thoughts turn to holidays, others will conversely dream about scaling a mountain, hurtling out of a moving plane (complete with parachute we would like to add), plumbing the depths of the sea or easing their bodies through the narrowest of rocky crevices deep underground when they’re dreaming up their next holiday.

Where once a line of striped bathing huts and equally striped deck chairs and blush-saving bathing costumes were the most exciting aspect of Victorian’s promenading at a host of overtly English seaside destinations – save a walk down the pier – today British holidaymakers demand a little bit more by way of frisson and adventure.

bobBob’s tip:

“A lot of travel insurance policies include limitations on what activities they cover, so if you are planning on an action-packed holiday you may need more specialist activity travel insurance.”

Read more of Bob’s travel insurance tips

Of course, there are all sorts of ‘activities’ which the modern day holidaymaker might dabble in or gear their holiday up towards, and the pursuits certainly don’t have to be considered extreme or dangerous in any way. Take the more sedate pastime of golf for an example, which is – with respect – not quite as general health and wellbeing-risking as perhaps launching yourself off a ski run somewhere wintery.

But then nor is cycling when compared to going on safari, where detractors could readily argue that life and limb is being risked by routinely getting up close and personal with lions and tigers. You see, such activities cited above are all relative. However the one thing that they have got in common is the requirement for travel insurance so as to protect unwitting holidaymakers in a variety of financially-implicating ways.

Extreme sports travel insurance. Adventure sports travel insurance. Sports/hazardous activities insurance. Or just plain sports travel insurance. Activity travel insurance comes in many different guises and covers the policyholder for a range of incidents which could befall them while they’re participating in some of their favourite leisure pursuits within a holiday setting/context.

These potentially dangerous pastimes can routinely include any from the following hit list of activities undertaken by thousands of holidaymakers year in, year out. From the sublime (air boarding, body boarding, jet-skiing, skydiving, ultimate frisbee) to the ‘cor blimey’ (bridge swinging, caving, dragon boating, jousting, kite buggying) to the frankly ridiculous (bamboo rafting, battle re-enactment, heli-skiing, ostrich riding, zorbing), activity travel insurance also serves and protects the innocent against the more mundane activities – by comparison – (angling, archery, camel riding, croquet, handball) enjoyed by thousands more of us while we’re exploring new regions/countries/continents on our annual jollies. Although not all will be included in standard activity travel insurance policies and will need additional premiums arranged.

While camping, trekking and modest/genteel sporting pursuits like golf and tennis will be ordinarily covered by standard travel insurance policies, anything deemed slightly extreme by the insurance providers (and definitely anything beginning with the letters, ‘luge’ or ‘zip-wiring’) most definitely won’t be. Which is why activity travel insurance policies came into being to explicitly cater for those who like nothing better than to throw themselves off and into situations which would put the fear of God into the rest of us.

Returning to the subject of modest/genteel sporting pursuits though, and some of these might not be comprehensively covered by a standard policy, so it’s imperative that you scrutinize the T’s & C’s to determine just what is. Seriously. If you hike in excess of 2,000 metres above sea level, scuba dive deeper than 30 metres and/or raft in white water categorised as too ferocious then your standard travel plan might well be compromised. Yet this is the exact juncture where a dedicated activity travel insurance steps into the fray and delivers the sporting insurance goods.

But don’t think for one minute that even these give the seemingly fearless and intrepid policyholder carte blanche to dive with sharks or go canyoning willy-nilly, as even specialist activity travel insurance policies won’t glibly cover one and all for one and all. It’s all down to classification as established by the insurance provider, and in which (individual) case don’t then be surprised if certain branches of white water rafting and potholing are rated as more

dangerous/life-threatening than abseiling and bungee jumping. Generally, the more dangerous the perception of the activity/sport, the higher the premium to counter for any potential repercussions resultant from injury. Or possible demise.

Do I need activity travel insurance?

No, not if your up-coming holiday activity ambitions stretch no further than a spot of crown green bowling or gentle elbow exercises, necessitating props such as a bar and a cocktail glass. However, YES, if your itinerary is more action-packed than your average Jason Statham movie and could, hypothetically, place your very existence on the line. So therefore have a clear understanding of just what activities you wish to involve yourself in a long time before you start packing your suitcase. And once you’ve ascertained just what activities they are, check with your travel insurance provider to ensure that they’re covered; and if not arrange then and there or speak with an alternative provider.

Don’t whatever you do simply sit back and mistakenly rely on your current travel insurance plan to cover for eventualities which could arise from participation in adventure/extreme sports and activities. And by the same token, don’t be hoodwinked into thinking that the document you’ll be asked to sign prior to undertaking a certain extreme activity while on holiday is anything other than a disclaimer; which essentially exonerates the activity supplier of any responsibility should anything happen during the activity.

Did you know that – percentage-wise – some 50% of British holidaymakers fail to check whether or not they’re covered for participation in risky activities while away from home, and that a staggering 82% of travellers in the 18 – 24 year old category readily admit to immersing themselves in at least one form of adventurous pursuit when on their jollies? That’s according to the 2012 ABTA Consumer Trends Survey which was conducted on behalf of the Foreign Office to highlight just how un-prepared thousands of holidaymakers are before they jet off to foreign climes each year.

And don’t lose sight of the fact that a decent activity travel insurance package will not only stand you in good stead if and when it comes to claiming on any medical expenses brought, but also with direct regard to a range of other unseen episodes which could easily blight your holiday and otherwise leave you out of pocket in unfamiliar surrounds.

Like for example flight/travel delays and cancellations, lost baggage and damaged, misplaced or stolen personal belongings (including valuables, documents, money and passports). All of which could provide major headaches and financial concerns should they play out.

How much does activity travel insurance cost?

As with most types of travel insurance it predominantly rests with which of the two predominant policies you opt for; namely single trip or multi trip/annual coverage.

The more often you envisage you’ll be travelling during the one calendar year, then the multi trip/annual travel insurance package makes the more sense, fiscally and for convenience sake, however should you be planning on just the one activity-based break during the next 12 months, then the industry-recognised single trip plan comes into its own. It’s very much a case of horses for courses. Or camels for courses if you’re looking to sample the delights of a more traditional North African getaway.

In terms of just what sort of activity bang you get for your all-encompassing travel insurance buck could be down to your tour operator in some cases, and shouldn’t be immediately overlooked or dismissed out of hand for fear of them cynically cashing in on you as a captive audience. In fact, on many occasions it actually PAYS to snap up their bespoke activity travel insurance as they are duty-bound by law to sell you a policy which is in accordance with the type of holiday you’ve purchased from them. A host of specialist adventure activity holiday-providing companies boast policies tailored around specific holidays, including what would be found on the options list elsewhere.

Admittedly such tour operator-procuring activity travel insurance plans may charge more than other purveyors, but at least that way everything is in-house. It very much depends on your personal circumstances.

What can I do to reduce the cost of activity travel insurance?

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