Update 19/02/2013 – Now that we’ve come to actually going ahead and purchasing our travel insurance I have realised that the quotes we received for ACE were only for one person, making HolidaySafe the much cheaper alternative!

One of the requirements for entering Canada under the IEC programme is that you have valid travel insurance for the duration of your stay. Whilst we’ve read many stories and comments from people saying that they were not asked to provide proof of insurance upon entry to Canada, Natalie and I would be massively gutted if we were turned away because we didn’t have insurance. Not only this but it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind it provides, especially considering Natalie is a little on the clumsy side (she cannot deny this; I regularly hear screams of pain from where she has hurt herself on some inanimate object in our flat). Considering we’re planning to get involved in lots of outdoor activities, including snowboarding, it would be silly to not be covered.

It could have been much worse for this kitten had he not been insured!

Having done some research and also looked at recommendations made by various people in a similar situation we have pretty much settled on one of two companies. The first being ACE Travel Insurance and the second being Holidaysafe. Naturally, the first thing we wanted to know was who is the cheapest and who offers the best cover.

Ace Travel Insurance

ACE’s backpacker policy for people aged between 15-44 years old was the most suitable one for us. It provides cover for up to 13 months (you can select exactly how many months you want to be covered for) and a choice of two levels of cover, standard and budget. The quotes we received for cover up to 12 months were:

  • Budget: £294.89
  • Standard: 362.81

Having viewed the benefits table the only apparent different between the two levels of cover is that the more expensive standard level covers money (I assume lost or stolen) and personal property (again, I assume lost, stolen, or maybe even accidental damage). The cover for money is up to £200, but carries a £75 excess, whilst the cover for personal property is up to £1,000, but has a limit of £150 per item and a £75 excess. For the additional expense this doesn’t seem worth it, especially considering the excess.

Although it took me a while to confirm this (as their website is crap and information is dotted all over the place), they do cover 240 sports and activities included in the cost. This is great news as we wanted this type of cover, but for those of you not wishing to take part in any sports or activities you will be disappointed to find out that you can’t have these excluded in order to save some money.

So the price seems good (less than £150 each) and the cover is more than adequate, but naturally I wanted to do some more digging. Upon searching for some reviews of the company I found a link to Review Centre which has some very negative reviews. I took these with a pinch of salt as I do any review but they certainly have made me think twice about going with ACE.

Holidaysafe

The first thing to point out about Holidaysafe is that I found their website much easier to use and it was a much easier process to find out whether sports and activities were included in the cost. They have more options for level of cover; the quotes we received were:

  • Backpacker: £269.77
  • Backpacker Plus: £308.31
  • Longstay: £344.00
  • Longstay Plus: £420.82

Each of the quotes were presented in a very easy to understand benefits table which showed what each policy covered, how much was covered for each item and what excess applied (if any). There are so many items on the list that it would be a bit ridiculous to mention all of the differences between the four policies in this blog post, but it’s safe to say though that based on the cost and the level of cover provided the Backpacker policy is more than good enough for Natalie and I.

Holidaysafe do not cover skiing and snowboarding as standard, however they do have various Activity Packs which you can add to your policy. There are four in total, and each of them covers different sports and activities. As skiing and snowboarding was the main activity we wanted to be covered I selected Activity Pack 2 to add to our quote. This meant an additional £35.25 each, taking our total quote to £340.27.

There appears to be very little in the way of reviews for Holidaysafe online unfortunately so it’s difficult to know whether they’re any good or not. Having done some research on it I’ve found that they are part of Infinity Insurance Solutions, which is a large insurance group. Again, there’s very little in the way of reviews about the company. The one saving grace is that they have been recognised with multiple Which? awards in 2010, 2011, and 2012, which is certainly encouraging.

Summary

To summarise, Holidaysafe appears to be a little more expensive and there isn’t a lot of information online in the form of customer reviews. There are reviews about the slightly cheaper ACE Travel Insurance, but they’re not particularly favourable. Had it not been for the recognition by Which? I might be inclined to go for the cheaper option; however I’m currently edging more towards Holidaysafe.

  • ACE Travel Insurance, including sports and activities cover: £147.45 each
  • Holidaysafe, including sports and activities cover: £170.14 each

We still have a few months to make our mind up, and we certainly need to look around at other options, so we’ll post again once we’ve decided and let you know who we chose and why.