Is travel insurance on a bank account adequate cover?

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"I have free travel insurance with my bank. Is the cover adequate for my trip?"

Packaged bank accounts frequently include some form of travel insurance policy - but how good is the cover on offer?

Most are fairly comprehensive, covering much of what we'd expect a standalone policy to protect against - which can make them incredibly good value even before we consider the other benefits included in our account.

What's covered?
How old are you?
How long a trip?
Winter sports, golf, and weddings
Kids included?
Declare medical conditions
Travel accident cover

The bad news is that every policy differs in its exact details, and while we can adjust a standalone policy to suit our needs, it can cost dearly to alter the policies that come with a packaged account.

What's covered by my policy?

Not long after packaged accounts first appeared, it became apparent that too many people were benefiting very little from their bundled features; the number of complaints made about those early packaged account sales have sparked concerns of another mis-selling scandal.

Since 2013 however, FCA regulations have meant that the banks are supposed to check that anyone looking at getting a packaged account is actually eligible for the products they're paying for, which covers the first of the details listed below.

But being eligible for a product doesn't mean it'll be of any use to us - which is when the other details listed below could be important.

Age limits

The age of the account holder is the factor most likely to cause problems with eligibility for any travel insurance offered with a packaged account: once we approach retirement, the options begin to diminish.

Some providers offer cover to older travellers for an additional premium:

Package Travel insurance Cover for older travellers?
basic bank account Basic Bank Account with Travel Pack (more details) Worldwide
Until 80th birthday
No
ultimate reward current account Ultimate Reward Current Account (more details) Worldwide
Until 71st birthday
No
Premier current account (more details) Worldwide
Until 70th birthday
No
flexplus FlexPlus current account (more details) Worldwide
Until 75th birthday
£50 premium per account
reward silver account Silver Reward account
(more details)
European
Until 70th birthday
£50 premium per person
platinum reward Platinum Reward account
(more details)
Worldwide
Until 70th birthday
tsb silver account Silver Account
(more details)
European
Until 65th birthday
No
tsb platinum account Platinum Account
(more details)
Worldwide
Until 80th birthday

Be aware that when paying to extend cover to someone older isn't an option, it'll usually cease automatically on the relevant birthday - unless we began a trip before that birthday. In this case, as long as the trip is within the maximum duration covered by that policy, most providers will extend cover until we're home.

In cases of joint accounts or where cover extends to a partner, only the person under the age limit will benefit from the policy.

Where am I covered and for how long a trip?

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As we hope is clear from the table above, most banks offer worldwide travel insurance - but it's not a universal benefit.

TSB offer Silver Account customers the option of upgrading from European to worldwide cover, but NatWest Silver account customers will need to upgrade to the Platinum account or buy a separate policy for trips beyond Europe.

A maximum duration of 31 days is fairly standard, with extensions available on a per trip basis for an additional premium - but NatWest Silver customers will need to purchase an upgrade for any trip over 22 days long.

UK trips are also covered, as long as they're to somewhere more than 25 miles from home and more than two or three days in length.

Winter sports and golf

Winter sports are now covered as standard by pretty much all of the travel insurance policies offered with bank accounts, and often up to the maximum duration of any one trip.

But 31 days at a time seems to be the limit, and TSB Silver account customers will be offered just 17 days as standard, although they can extend this to 30 days if needs be.

Golf - or rather, cover for their golf equipment - is the other feature that many travellers look for. Of the banks listed above, only the policies offered by Halifax, HSBC and Nationwide include golf cover as standard, although it's available as an upgrade with each of the others.

Policy covers...
Package Golf Business travel Wedding
basic bank account Basic Bank Account with Travel Pack (more details) No No No
ultimate reward current account Ultimate Reward Current Account (more details) Yes Yes Yes
Premier current account (more details) Yes Yes No
flexplus FlexPlus current account (more details) Yes Yes Yes
reward silver account Silver Reward account
(more details)
No No No
platinum reward Platinum Reward account
(more details)
tsb silver account Silver Account
(more details)
No No No
tsb platinum account Platinum Account
(more details)
No Yes No

With the exception of the HSBC Premier insurance, any cover marked as not included in the above table is usually available as an upgrade for an additional premium.

Who's covered?

All of the policies we've looked at cover the account holder and their partner - defined as someone with whom they're living with permanently in a relationship - as long as they're under the age limits outlined above.

Some also cover the account holder's dependent children as standard. Note the use of the word "dependent" - that cover extends to those aged over 18 as long as they're in full time education, living at home outside term time, and not married or in a civil partnership.

The most generous policies give the account holder's dependents exactly the same cover when they're travelling on their own as the account holder themselves has.

Others only cover children travelling with their parents or another adult - although how a 24-year-old feels about being told they're only covered if travelling with an adult is another matter.

Package Children covered Restrictions
basic bank account Basic Bank Account with Travel Pack (more details) Under 23, in full time education Must travel with account holder
ultimate reward current account Ultimate Reward Current Account (more details) Under 24, in full time education When travelling with an adult
Premier current account (more details) Under 23, in full time education Must travel with account holder
flexplus FlexPlus current account (more details) Under 22, in full time education None
reward silver account Silver Reward account
(more details)
No N/A
platinum reward Platinum Reward account
(more details)
Under 23, in full time education None
tsb silver account Silver Account
(more details)
No N/A
tsb platinum account Platinum Account
(more details)
Under 24, in full time education When travelling with an adult

Medical conditions

Anyone who has a pre-existing medical condition needs to say so when they're considering travel insurance.

All policy providers will have a list of conditions they'll cover no questions asked, and if we have, or are simply be tested for, a condition doesn't appear on that list we need to be upfront about it.

We'll usually be given the choice of paying extra to include it in our cover, or excluding it from our policy all together - but if we don't mention it, we run the risk of invalidating the whole policy.

Travel insurance from a credit card

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Current accounts with benefits
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Compare current accounts here
Compare credit cards here

Note that we've only talked about the cover included with packaged bank accounts, not that provided with some credit cards.

That's because there's a crucial difference in the kind of cover offered: credit cards often only provide travel accident cover rather than a full policy.

There's more on what travel accident cover is, and who offers it in this guide - but briefly, it only covers serious bodily injuries and death, so it's no good if our luggage goes missing or we need basic medical care.

Those looking for a solid travel insurance policy will find the kind offered with a packaged current account far more suitable, as long as they bear in mind the details we've covered above.


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