Online Travel Insurance

Secret Shopper

Our Secret Shopper takes a look at some of the travel insurance policies that are available on the web.

The following tables are created by searching through some online travel insurance companies and obtaining quotes for two different types of people.

Below the pricing tables you will see a review of each travel insurance website :

22 year old person travelling to Europe for 2weeks, single trip cover with winter sports included, aiming for a good level of cover

Travel Insurance Company Price Notes Policy
STA Travel £50.00 to 17days, no excess buyout offered
American Express £45.00 12-17days also offered excess buyout for GBP8.95 Buy
Marks & Spencers £38.21 14-17 days, excess buyout offered for GBP5.03
Expedia £37.88 14days no excess buyout offered
Travel-insurance-online £33.04 up to 17 days, no excess buyout offered Buy
Go travel insurance £29.36 14 days excess buyout for GBP4.91 Buy
Columbus Direct £29.00 14 days no wintersport option so chose ski cover Buy
Trailfinders £28.00 , no excess buyout offered
Tesco £19.99 15 days but offered no wintersports cover
Thompson not currently available online

*excess buyout means that you do not have to pay any excess at all if you make a travel insurance claim

40 year old person, worldwide multi-trip insurance for 12 months, aiming for a good level of cover

Travel Insurance Company Price Notes
American Express £204.95

max trip 120days total max 240 days Premier Plus

Cover Excess buyout GBP8.95

Trailfinders £109.00 max trip 70days,

No excess buyout offered
STA Travel £85.00

max trip 42days Europe, 60 days Worldwide

No Excess buyout offered

Tesco £74.99

max trip time 42days. Max total days 120.

No Excess buyout offered

Columbus Direct £67.96 max trip 60 days, unlimited trips Buy
Marks & Spencers £64.57 Excess buyout GBP9.74 no info about max trip stay
Go travel insurance £42.95 14 days no wintersport option so chose ski cover Buy
Expedia none offered
Travel-insurance-online none offered online
Thompson not currently available online

*all data obtained Feb 2006

American Express Travel Insurance

Very easy to use website, clear on where to look for travel insurance and quote it. The single trip policy took about 2 mins to quote, but the multi-trip cover took about 4 mins as I had to read the conditions to verify number of days per trip and total. Site automatically defaulted to 18-65 year age group worldwide multi-trip, and also gave a reference after the mult-trip quote if you wanted to call instead of book online. Overall a very straightforward and easy site to use.

Columbus Direct

Easy enough website to use, very clear on insurance options. The single trip policy took me about 5 minutes to quote, as they only offered Ski cover and not wintersports on the application. Further along in the process some text below said that wintersports could be offered, however I couldn't find how to quote it, so gave up and took ski option instead. The Annual insurance took about 2mins to quote and was relatively straightforward. The little "I" information icons were handy.


When you select the insurance option with Expedia you are redirected away from their own site to Mondial UK. This site is not the easiest to use. The dates are written in American form using the month first and if you use the calendar it makes the process a lot longer. The single trip policy took about 2-3mins to go through, with them only offering ski cover on the application, however, this is reworded as wintersports cover when you get through to the final quote! This site does not offer Annual worldwide multi-trip insurance.

Go Travel Insurance

A very quick and easy website to use. Quotes took less than 1min to request. The only problem was that after I had done a quote for the single trip I found there was no offer for winter sports cover, so I had to choose the ski option to get this quote. For the Annual multi-trip cover there was the option to call and find a quote if you wanted either 45days or 60days max stay away. Overall a good site, and very cheap. I would definitely read their fine print to compare what you are and are not covered for!


A very fast and easy site to use for the single trip quote. This took less than a minute and had to option of wintersport in the quote page. Trying to gain a quote for the Annual insurance was a little harder though. I used the same quote page, which quoted a full 12months cover. I then found information about what their Annual cover covers by clicking through the different tabs, but when I hit the quote button it took me back to the original quote screen and only quoted a 12month single trip again.

STA Travel

Attractive website, however the link into the insurance quote pages was a bit slow, even with broadband! Both quotes took only about a minute, however there was no option for excess buyout when booking online. I know that when purchasing the policy in store there is the option for excess buyout.

Thompson Travel Insurance

Upon clicking the insurance option in their quicklinks, this site came up saying that their online travel insurance was currently being improved and updated. It gave Thompson's telephone sales number and a reference to quote.

Marks and Spencers Travel Insurance

At first a very easy site to use. Each quote took less than a minute, offered the wintersports option and also gave a final price with or without excess buyout. The website offered a 10% discount if you booked online today. However, the annual policy offered no information about max trip stay, and after 5 minutes of trawling through the website looking for answers I gave up. It did offer the option of contacting M&S with my question.

Tesco Travel Insurance

This site had some basic questions that you had to answer "yes" to before proceeding, with a telephone number to call if you couldn't. It then advised that the process could take up to 10mins, however I found it to be only 2-3mins for each quote. The single trip policy offered no wintersports option, however the annual policy had it included. A more complicated site than many of the others in obtaining a quote.

Trailfinders Travel Insurance

Easy site to access and quote on. Each quote took about 1-2mins. The only problem is that you cannot go ahead and purchase your insurance online. You need to visit your local store to do this.

As you can see there is a wide variance between the costs of travel insurance for the same kind of trip between different travel insurance providers. Whilst conducting this research I have not fully read each policy and what they offer, so when purchasing your insurance do not go by price alone. Do make sure you are comparing "apples with apples". Some of the cheaper policies may not offer anyway near the same amount of coverage as the more expensive ones.

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