For further information about the Horizon IT Scandal, please visit our corporate website

Getting travel insurance for an adventure holiday

Adventurous holidays can take many forms, from action-packed itineraries in unusual places to taking part in the odd activity during a more traditional break.

An essential part of your trip planning is finding travel insurance to cover what you’ll be doing. But many holidaymakers aren't sure of the cover they'll be getting, which could leave them at risk on their adventures.

Posted: 23/9/2023 | By Darren Williams

What is an adventure holiday?

Adventurous holidays come in many different sizes. A holiday package that takes you on a journey of discovery could include trekking in the Borneo rainforest. Seeing a marine iguana in the Galápagos Islands. Or snowshoeing through the untouched beauty of the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia.

The list is endless. From kayaking on Alaska’s mighty rivers and exploring active volcanoes in Iceland to hiking Na Pali’s Kalalau Trail, these holidays deliver huge rewards.

Even if you’re not usually the daredevil type, for the chance to bungee jump off the Kawarau Bridge in New Zealand you might be willing to forget you don’t like heights. And, of course, being adventurous on holiday doesn’t mean you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You could choose a mix of lying on a sun bed with the odd burst of energy. Imagine your family zorbing down a hill, hell for leather, or hearing their delighted screams from a banana boat.

What are the benefits of going on an adventure holiday?

Taking an adventure holiday comes with added rewards. Not only are you getting away from everyday life, but adventurous activities also give you a sense of personal achievement and accomplishment.

They allow you to step outside your comfort zone by discovering new places and cultures, challenging yourself, building self-confidence and enhancing problem-solving skills. They're the ideal way to create lifelong memories and develop a deeper connection with nature. A different kind of break to a conventional holiday.

Research shows being outside and part of nature, in contrast to our usual building-bound lives, is mentally and physically good for you. And you're more likely to exert yourself in an outside setting than on a treadmill. Cycling through the Andes might be just the pick-up you need.

What to consider when taking an adventure holiday

How adventurous your holiday could be is down to you. You might be trying something new or investing time in the adrenaline-spiking action of which you're an enthusiast. Holidays can be a time to throw caution to the wind, but it's wise to take precautions when planning your trip and getting travel insurance.

  • Are you up to the task? Choose activities that aren't beyond your physical abilities. If you have a medical condition, make sure it won't stop you from taking on the experience safely or negatively impact your health
  • Are you using a reputable company? Find a company with all the necessary licenses and certifications to ensure they meet safety standards. Stick to the safety regulations, and don't act recklessly. If your policy covers the activity you're doing, it'll likely only do so if you follow these guidelines
  • What do you need to pack? Check if you need any equipment. Do you need any special clothing or footwear? For instance, if you're hiking, you'll need suitable boots for the terrain. Consider packing a first aid kit, sunscreen and insect repellent
  • How do you protect yourself? Safety is a priority. So, as well as always acting responsibly, make sure you’re clear where the nearest medical facilities are. Save the local emergency number in your phone. Look for travel insurance that covers your activities and offers the right level of cover, including emergency medical treatment and compensation for any losses

Make sure you’re protected on your adventures

Adventure travel insurance

What does (and doesn’t) it cover?

The answers might surprise you. In a 2023 survey*, we asked UK consumers what activities they thought were covered by standard travel insurance policies. In many cases, their perception didn’t match up with reality.

Sometimes, activities may be covered you might not expect. For instance, our survey found around three quarters of people didn’t know zorbing (74%), helicopter rides (74%) and scuba diving (76%) can all typically be covered by travel insurance as standard, but always check to make sure. With many providers, there’s no need to buy extra cover for these activities.

In contrast, it’s all too easy to think activities are covered by insurance that aren’t. For instance, 52% of our respondents though squash would be covered as standard by travel insurance. But typically you'd need to buy extra sports and activities cover if you were planning to play it on your holiday.

A large proportion of holidaymakers thought jet skiing (73%), quad biking (72%), rock climbing (70%), and hang gliding (70%) would be covered by either standard cover or by purchasing additional protection. But, generally, these activities tend not to be covered by travel insurance, depending on the provider.

It shows the mismatch between what we believe would be covered and what you can be protected for with travel insurance. So, it’s best not to leave it to chance and review a policy in depth to ensure you’re fully aware of the cover you’re buying.

Choosing adventure travel insurance

When you’re buying travel insurance for your adventure holiday, there are several important factors to keep in mind:

  • Check it provides the cover you need: will the specific activities you’ll be doing be covered or are they excluded? Can you get cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition? And will expenses for emergency expenses and repatriation (getting you home if needed) be covered?
  • Review the policy limits: check the maximum cover limits for medical expenses, emergency evacuation and personal belongings. And look for high cover limits for the activities you’ll be taking part in, for instance to cover extreme sports injuries or search and rescue costs
  • Look for emergency assistance: for adventure holidays, make sure your policy includes medical assistance services, such as a helpline you can call in emergencies. Some providers also provide outpatient medical assistance when it’s not an emergency
  • Look for cancellation and curtailment cover: with the increased risk of illness, injury or a natural catastrophe that come with adventure holidays, will you be covered if your trip is cancelled, interrupted or cut short as a result? Do you need any extra trip disruption cover?
  • See what other travellers say: reading reviews will give you an idea of what other holidaymakers think of different insurers, the policies they offer, and how they handle insurance claims

It’s important to compare quotes from different insurers and contrast their cover, policy limits, premiums and benefits to make sure you’re getting the right protection for your needs.

Summary: top tips for planning adventure holidays

  • Plan your activities around your ability and health
  • Choose a reputable company that meets safety standards
  • Pack all the essentials you’ll need to make your trip a success
  • Find travel insurance that fully covers your experiences

And have a great time on your adventures.

* Post Office ‘Hot Topics’ research, conducted 18-26 May 2023 among a nationally representative sample of 2005 UK consumers presented with various activities holidaymakers might take part in during their travels. We asked which activities these respondents thought would be covered as standard by travel insurance policies, which would require the purchase of additional protection to cover them, and which they felt neither standard options nor add-on protection would cover.

Make sure you’re protected on your adventures

Common adventure holiday questions

  • Finding the best adventure holiday starts with thinking about what activities you like, what you feel comfortable doing, and where you want to go. There's lots of accessible advice, whether you talk to a specialist travel agent, consult expert sites or research different options yourself. Reading other people's reviews can help you feel confident with your decision.

  • Quite often, depending on your preferred activities, the best adventure holidays are a little further from home. You might consider destinations such as Costa Rica, Nepal, Peru or South Africa. But you can also find places closer to home, including activities like cycling in Italy.

  • That depends on the activities you want to do. Some are suitable for beginners, only require an average fitness level and potentially offer on-site training if it’s something you’ve never tried before. But some are more extreme. You’ll most likely need a high level of fitness and some form of certification to go mountaineering, for instance. Be realistic about your fitness and research the holiday to see if you need additional experience. You don’t want to choose a holiday that’s out of your comfort zone and, therefore, potentially unsafe.

  • There are some risks attached to doing thrilling activities. It means safety should be a top priority. Here are some essential things to remember:

    • the activity should be within your abilities
    • check if you’ll be at extra risk if you have a medical condition
    • only use a reputable company that meets safety standards
    • follow safety guidelines and act responsibly
    • don’t forget the items and equipment essential to enjoying your holiday
    • get the right cover from your travel insurance
  • There’s no limit. But if you’re doing something new or that will push your limits, you might want to choose a shorter holiday so you don’t overstretch yourself. Or you could start your holiday with an adventure and end it with some time to relax. The most important thing is to choose a stress-free holiday that is within your capabilities.

  • Anyone can go on an adventure holiday, including those who want to travel alone. Some travel companies offer group tour holidays, ideal for solo travellers, where you can meet like-minded individuals. It’s a great way to share experiences and connect with new people.

  • They are. You can take a family-friendly adventure holiday that covers the best activities for both children and adults. And many companies offer different types of experiences for various age ranges and fitness levels. Book your holiday with everyone’s abilities and comfort levels in mind.

  • That depends on where you go, what activities you do, and what accommodation you select. You can choose from something at the more luxurious end of the scale or a more reasonable holiday. Doing some research can help you find something within your budget.

  • Where you're going and what you're doing will affect what you pack. Take clothing and footwear suitable for the weather and activities you'll be doing. For instance, if you're going hiking, take comfortable boots. And think about what additional items you might need to take. Will you need sunscreen or insect repellent? Would a first aid kit come in handy? And you might want to bring items such as a water bottle and a camera. And most importantly, don't forget to pack any medication you're taking.

    Read our guide to pre-travel prep and packing lists.

About cover for adventure travel

  • Travel insurance is highly recommended because adventure holidays tend to involve more risk. It can cover medical emergencies, trip cancellation, lost or stolen equipment and other unforeseen circumstances. As your holiday will probably include physical activity, you can be covered if you're injured before you go away and during your holiday.

  • Most providers will tell you what is and isn’t covered by standard travel insurance and what limitations apply. If your activity isn’t included, you’ll need to consider having an upgrade or an add-on to cover you. If you’ve chosen a high-risk or extreme activity, you might need a specialised adventure travel policy or sports and activities add-on for an additional premium. Review the policy or contact the insurance company to be sure you’re covered.

  • You'll want a policy that offers complete cover for your holiday, including medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, trip cancellation or interruption and cover for lost or stolen equipment. Check the cover limits are high enough and consider if you need any additional optional cover. For instance, do you need personal accident or search and rescue cover? Carefully read and understand the policy's terms and conditions so you know what cover you're getting.

  • Adventure travel insurance policies may have exclusions or limitations. Common exclusions can include:

    • pre-existing medical conditions
    • certain extreme activities
    • participating in activities without proper safety equipment or certified guides

    Read the policy carefully. If anything isn’t clear, check it with the insurance provider so you understand any limitations.

  • You'll need to carefully review your policy to find out what it does and doesn't cover and if the cover limits are high enough. Review the limitations and exclusions on your policy because standard travel insurance might not cover you. You might need to pay an additional premium to buy an add-on that covers it, or to buy a specialist adventure travel policy if participating in a high-risk activity.

  • The cost depends on the duration of your trip, where you'll be going and what you’ll be doing, your age, any pre-existing medical conditions, and the cover limits you choose. Premiums for adventure holiday policies can be higher than regular travel insurance, influenced by the increased risk attached to the activity you’re participating in. Consider getting several quotes from different providers to compare the costs.

  • Whether you're looking at standard or adventure travel insurance policies, if you have medical conditions make sure you find an insurance company that can cover them. You must disclose any pre-existing medical conditions. And you may need to pay an additional premium to make sure you're fully covered. If you're unsure or anything or need something clarifying, contact the insurance provider.

  • You can buy travel insurance any time after booking your trip, often up to just a few hours before you go. But buying it as soon as possible is recommended. It offers you protection for unforeseen circumstances that could happen before your departure, which might prevent you going.

  • Each travel insurance provider will give you guidance on how to make a claim. You would usually be expected to tell the insurance company about the incident or loss as soon as possible. They’ll most likely require you to submit supporting documentation, which could include medical or police reports. These should be submitted along with your claim forms. If you’re unclear what steps to take, contact your insurance provider.