There's no argument that insurance is a big chunk out of your budget, but it is the most essential thing to take with you.

I worked in an emergency medical company within the travel insurance sector for over 3 years and I have seen some of the most gruesome photographs and heard some of the most heartbreaking stories.

A lot of people get very confused about travel insurance. They often pick the cheapest policy without understanding the level of cover that is provided. Or they simply don't the time to research or understand their policy.

Make your way through these questions and you'll be on your way!

1. Does your bank offer a free policy?

Do you have a free policy with your bank account that you could use before purchasing a policy with a different company? For example, I get free travel insurance for up to 28 days with my bank because of the type of account I have with them, but it only provides cover for Europe, and for leisure purposes only. 

2. Are you traveling for business or leisure?

It’s very important that you determine which of these is covered and what the specific definitions are. Insurance policies always have a section that states “Definitions” and this will tell you what they define as “business trips” or “leisure activities”.

3. Does you travel fall into another category?

Are you looking to do something that may not necessarily fit into either of these category definitions such as voluntary work? Some policies may have a section where they state that non-manual work or voluntary work is automatically covered, some do not.

If it's not clearly stated in the policy, it's important that you either get in contact with the insurance provider to clarify with them or look for a more specific policy tailored to that purpose. Do not shrug it off and say to yourself “Well if it’s unpaid then it’s obviously leisure” because that’s not how it works!

4. Who are you travelling with?

Are you traveling alone, with a friend, or with a family member? Who is covered?

You need to know whether your policy covers just the account/policyholder (which would be yourself), or whether a spouse/cohabiting partner or your children are covered. Generally speaking, your spouse or cohabiting partner would usually be covered, providing you have proof that you are living together (copies of utility bills, council tax, bank statements etc.). And children are usually covered if they are dependant or in full-time education under a certain age. You will need to check the age as it varies in different policies.

5. What areas are covered? How much is covered?

How much is covered under medical? Dental? Does it cover cancellation? Flight delays? Natural disasters and political unrest? (are they prevalent in the area you are travelling to?) Lost/damaged baggage?

You need to have a bit of forethought to the type of traveling you are doing and to what areas, and decide what would be relevant to you.

6. What activities are covered?

Much the same as business and leisure, most policies are quite specific about the activities that are covered and there will be a clearly defined list.

For example, activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, hot air ballooning, and white water rafting are usually classed as “adventure activities.” Unless you have a specifically tailored policy, you will usually have to pay a premium to add them to your existing policies, so bear this in mind when you are looking at quotes, going with the cheapest quote and then having to add additional cover may end up costing you more in the long run.​

If activities such as diving are covered, you will need to check what depth you are covered up to, and whether there are any clauses such as having a qualified instructor with you etc. Think along these lines for other activities such as hiking/treks, what altitude are you covered to hike to? Altitude sickness is not uncommon and if you have not ensured that you are covered to be at that level when the incident happens, then it leaves you in an uncomfortable position.​

6 Questions To Help You Choose the Right Travel Insurance via @gypsyheartblog #travel

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It may be boring, and it may take up a lot of your time, but you will not want to lose out on time nor money!

Work your way through this list and ensure that you have an appropriate level of cover that has your back in all eventualities, and you can enjoy your trip without worry.

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This post originally appeared on The Gypsy Heart Travels and has been republished with permission.