What cover do Direct Line travel insurance policies provide?

· 11 min read

Direct Line is a relatively young company, having started in 1985 and began what became an online insurance revolution. While the company's travel insurance policies are not focused wholly on the over 50s, they offer a wide range of travel cover. Single trip, annual multi-trip cover and even backpack cover are available to different age groups. But do the policies provide value for money?


Direct Line travel insurance: FAQs

  • Does Direct Line travel insurance have additional cover for Covid-19?

    Yes. Overall, the travel insurance industry has been relatively quick in adapting both policies and premiums to consider Covid-19 and future pandemics. There is a separate section for Covid-19 cover on the Direct Line insurance website.

  • Do I need to declare any medical conditions?

    Yes. If a policyholder fails to declare any medical conditions, this may result in curtailment of cover or the policy being cancelled and cover withdrawn. The vast majority of medical conditions are covered by Direct Line travel insurance, but the company need to be aware of specific conditions.

  • How much does it cost to insure children?

    If children travel with an insured person (an adult), who has a Direct Line travel insurance policy, they will be covered at no extra cost. This relates to children under the age of 18.

  • How is Direct Line travel insurance protected?

    As a financial services provider, Direct Line's and its parent group UK Insurance Limited are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority.

While the history of some established insurance companies goes back hundreds of years, Direct Line was born in 1985. Originally part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, the company was sold off and floated on the stock market as a stand-alone operation. As well as travel insurance, traditional home insurance and car insurance, Direct Line offers insurance for pets, businesses and landlords. Servicing more than 10 million customers, Direct Line insurance is the leading online insurance company. The group now includes an array of other companies such as Churchill Insurance.

There are several factors to consider and a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to Direct Line travel insurance policies. We will now look at the detail you can expect to find in your policy documents, and the level of travel insurance cover offered.

Am I eligible for Direct Line travel insurance cover?

Unlike travel insurance companies focused on the over 50s market, like Saga, there are various conditions for Direct Line travel insurance. For example, there are some age restrictions, and the level of insurance cover available varies with different policies.

The standard conditions when applying for Direct Line travel insurance are as follows:

  • You must make the company aware of any pre-existing medical conditions
  • Cover is only available to permanent residents of the UK
  • Your trips must start and end in the UK
  • Trips within the UK must be for at least two consecutive nights, pre-booked with commercial accommodation
  • Cancellation cover will not be available if you suspect the trip might be cancelled at the time of booking

There are also some age-related conditions when looking to acquire Direct Line travel insurance:

  • Those looking to take out an annual multi-trip policy must be under 75 years of age
  • You must be less than 54 years of age for the backpack cover
  • The single trip cover is reduced from the standard 90 days to 42 days for those aged 60 and above

Consequently, when comparing and contrasting travel insurance for the over 50s, it is crucial to be aware of curtailment on some elements of cover. What might seem good value on the surface may look slightly different on further investigation!

Different types of Direct Line travel insurance

Three main types of travel insurance are available through Direct Line instead of the traditional annual multi-trip and single trip cover. In addition, travellers under 54 can apply for backpack cover when travelling the world. It is also important to note that you can add additional people to your travel insurance policy. Children travelling with an adult are covered as standard. Let's look at the three types of Direct Line travel insurance policies available, what they have to offer, and any restrictions or conditions to be aware of.

Annual multi-trip cover

Direct Line annual multi-trip cover is perfect for frequent travellers. Under this type of insurance policy, you will be afforded annual cover for trips up to 42 days in duration. Unfortunately, yearly multi-trip cover is only available to those under 75 years of age.

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Annual multi-trip insurance policies offer comprehensive cover that includes:

Element of cover

Maximum cover

Cancellation cover

£5,000

Medical emergency

£10 million

Personal liability

£2 million

Legal expenses and a 24-hour helpline

£50,000

Abandon journey

£5,000

Delayed departure

£200

Missed departure

£600 (£200 UK-only trip)

Personal accident cover - death

£10,000 per adult/£1,500 if under 18

Personal accident cover - loss of sight/limb

£10,000

Personal accident cover - unable to work after two years

£25,000

Lost/stolen passport

£500

Disaster cover

£1,000

Delayed personal belongings

£200

In the event of end supplier failure, you will be covered for additional expenses not protected elsewhere in the policy documents. For example, children under 18 will be covered when travelling with an adult insured under a Direct Line travel insurance policy.

It is also essential to be aware of specific exclusions not covered by the standard Direct Line travel insurance policy. Annual multi-trip cover includes:

  • Personal belongings (optional extra)

While not standard, you can add personal belongings insurance to your policy to cover your bags and their contents. The maximum payout is £1,500 for valuables lost, stolen or damaged while travelling.

  • Winter sports cover (optional extra)

You can take out additional winter sports insurance, which will cover your skiing or snowboarding equipment for theft and damage. You will also be covered for injuries and piste closures.

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  • One night UK trips

Annual multi-trip insurance only covers UK trips for a minimum of two consecutive nights, pre-booked in commercial accommodation.

  • Non-UK residents

Direct Line travel insurance is only available to those permanently resident in the UK.

  • One-way trips

This type of travel insurance does not cover one-way trips; they must be return trips, starting and ending in the UK.

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  • Undeclared pre-existing medical conditions

Only declared pre-existing medical conditions will be covered as part of your travel insurance policy. Any claim made on an undeclared medical condition will be rejected.

Single trip cover

Single trip insurance cover offers standard protection for one-off trips lasting up to 90 days anywhere in the world. If you're over 60, the duration of your trip is reduced to 42 days anywhere in the world.

The level of cover provided by a Direct Line single trip insurance policy is the same as that for annual multi-trip policies.

Backpack cover

Sometimes referred to as "Discoverer Trip" cover, Direct Line backpack travel insurance cover is available to those under 54 for trips lasting 3 to 18 months. The specifics of backpack travel insurance cover are as follows:

Element of cover

Maximum cover

Legal expenses and a 24-hour helpline

£50,000

Abandon journey

£5,000

Delayed departure

£200

Missed departure

£600 (£200 UK-only trip)

Personal accident cover - death

£10,000 per adult/£1,500 if under 18

Personal accident cover - loss of sight/limb

£10,000

Personal accident cover - unable to work after two years

£25,000

Lost/stolen passport

£500

Disaster cover

£1,000

Delayed personal belongings

£200

Personal liability

£2 million

You are also covered for end supplier failure, where costs have not been protected elsewhere under your policy. Children travelling with an adult insured under a Direct Line travel insurance policy will also be covered.

There are also some additional exemptions. Due to the nature of "backpacking trips", you will not be covered for an early end to your trip. Consequently, you will not be able to claim if you are forced to abandon your journey or change your travel arrangements for whatever reason.

Am I covered for Covid-19 with Direct Line travel insurance?

Unfortunately, we are likely to experience many Covid-19 spikes in different areas of the world in the short to medium-term. Consequently, Direct Line has made several changes to its policies. From 5 October 2021, all Direct Line travel insurance policies cover Covid-19 and other pandemics related to bookings made but yet to take and future trips.

There is cover in place for trips cancelled as a consequence of:

  • You, a party in your travelling group, or person you're planning to stay with, having to quarantine or self-isolate either in the UK or abroad
  • You, or any insured person, travelling companion or a close relative being diagnosed with Covid-19 or another pandemic disease
  • The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advising against all but essential travel to your holiday destination within 28 days of departure - however, this advice must not have been in place when the holiday was booked or Direct Line travel insurance was acquired
  • Covid-19 or another pandemic diseases, resulting in pre-booked/prepaid accommodation not being available or restrictions in the surrounding area

You will also be covered if forced to cut your trip short due to:

  • A change in the FCDO advice, which you were not aware of when you travelled
  • A change in circumstances, such as a lockdown, affecting your pre-booked accommodation because of Covid-19 or a pandemic - you must not have been aware of this advice when you travelled

Last but not least, there is also emergency medical cover for overseas expenses when diagnosed with coronavirus or another pandemic disease while on your trip.

While consumer attention is on Covid-19, Direct Line is referencing pandemics, in general, in its policy documents. We will all need to consider potential pandemics in the future concerning travel plans and life in general.

Standard features of Direct Line travel insurance policies

While Direct Line travel insurance policies are relatively flexible and can be tailored to your specific requirements, there are some standard features. Therefore, it is essential to check with each type of policy to see which features are included:

Cancellation cover

There is cancellation cover up to a maximum of £5,000 per trip. Valid if you are forced to cancel due to illness, unemployment or another unexpected issue.

Medical emergency cover

While the headline figure of £10 million for medical expenses insurance has caught the attention of many consumers, there is more to consider. In addition, medical emergency cover will pay up to £2,500 for a loved one or friend to travel and stay with you while undergoing treatment. There is also a daily allowance of £25 for phone calls, transport and food.

Personal liability cover

Suppose you're found legally liable for an incident resulting in physical injury, death, accidental loss or damage to property. In that case, there is personal liability cover up to a maximum of £2 million. This is crucial as the associated costs can vary widely in different countries.

Legal expenses and a 24-hour helpline

While there is advice available 24/7, the legal cost cover up to £50,000 can prove helpful. This may be used to claim damages or compensation for injury, illness, death or a dispute about an agreement relating to your journey.

If you are arrested overseas, there is cover of up to £250 for the first meeting with a local solicitor.

Abandoned journeys

If you experience a delay of at least 12 hours and have to abandon your journey, you will be paid up to a maximum of £5,000.

Delayed or missed departure

If your departure is delayed, you will receive up to £200 per person or up to £600 for a missed departure. This element is reduced to a maximum of £200 for UK-only trips.

Children's insurance cover

All children under 18 will be covered if travelling with an adult insured under a Direct Line travel insurance policy. This will also take in organised activities such as snorkelling, beach games, swimming, and other events supervised by adults.

Personal accident

If you are injured due to an accident, where no third party is liable, there is a maximum of £10,000 payment if this results in your death. The figure is reduced to £1,500 for those under 18 travelling with an adult with a Direct Line travel insurance policy. Loss of sight or loss of a limb will lead to a maximum £10,000 payout and up to £25,000 if you cannot work after two years.

Lost or stolen passport

Losing your passport, for whatever reason, can be extremely daunting, more so when in a foreign land. Consequently, Direct Line travel insurance includes up to £500 for any extra travel/accommodation expenses incurred while waiting for replacement documentation.

Disaster cover

If pre-booked accommodation, or the surrounding area, has been impacted by a natural disaster, you are covered for extra travel and additional accommodation expenses up to £1,000. This is because you may decide to continue your trip or return to the UK. Natural disasters could include fires, explosions, earthquakes, tidal waves, avalanches, hurricanes, medical epidemics or a pandemic, and more.

Delayed personal belongings

There's nothing worse than losing your belongings, be it via your airline or a third-party travel provider. If the return of your belongings is delayed by more than 12 hours, you would be eligible for up to £200 to replace any personal belongings you need to buy.

Cost of Direct Line travel insurance policies

It is difficult to calculate an "average" Direct Line travel insurance premium because there are so many variables, including:

  • Age
  • Destination
  • Type of policy
  • Additional extras
  • Medical conditions
  • Excess payments

As detailed above, some of the policies have age restrictions, while Saga, focusing specifically on over 50s, have no such conditions. On the plus side, you will see introductory offers on the Direct Line insurance website from time to time. One of the more common offers is a 25% discount off annual multi-trip travel insurance cover, which is certainly worth considering!

Does Direct Line travel insurance offer value for money?

It isn't easy to compare Direct Line travel insurance with the likes of Saga, which is focused solely on the over 50s market. That said, there are several options available to reduce your Direct Line travel insurance premiums, such as reducing the excess and taking advantage of online offers. In addition, the standard cover on Direct Line travel insurance policies is both flexible and comprehensive. The key is to ensure that the travel insurance package you purchase is moulded around your particular requirements.

There may also be options to buy pet insurance, home insurance and other Direct Line products alongside your travel insurance, which may provide a discount.

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Mark Benson
Mark Benson
Mark joined Pension Times in 2020 and has over 10 years’ experience specialising in writing around property, finance, and investment subjects.
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