When traveling to a new and unfamiliar place, there is no such thing as being too safe. According to TripInsurance.com, 17% (one out of every 6 people) who buy travel insurance have actually filed a claim—this means you have a higher chance of making a travel insurance claim than almost any other insurance you buy. Most travelers, however, elect not to buy it. You can find coverage to protect you from a range of issues, including:
If you do opt for travel insurance, you should never purchase it from your airline, tour operator, or cruise line. These policies offer weak coverage (for instance, pre-existing medical conditions are typically not covered). You can find much better policies from a travel insurance specialist like AIG Travel Guard. Read on to learn when you should or should not purchase travel insurance.
Here, we’ve listed some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you should purchase travel insurance for your next trip.
Ask yourself: If something happens, can I afford the loss? If your trip is of high enough value that losing your investment would cause financial hardship (e.g. a $3,000 cruise), many experts advise that you insure your purchase. You’ll especially want to consider insurance if your vacation costs more than $5,000. A short, simple, and inexpensive domestic trip, on the other hand, is not something that should be insured.
Tip: The primary reason people make a travel insurance claim is illness or injury of either the policyholder or a family member just prior to a trip. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, be sure to document your medical condition with a visit to a hospital or doctor before making the claim, or there is a good chance it will be denied. Also read the fine print that defines “family member,” as some policies are broader than others.
You’ll want to make sure you’re covered anytime you leave the country. Call your health insurance provider before taking an international trip to ensure any emergency medical expenses are covered and to find out what the claims procedure is. Medical providers outside of the United States often require up-front payments for medical services. These can cost thousands of dollars, but travel insurance can guarantee these payments. This is also the case for medical evacuations and repatriations, which can cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Tip: If you travel a lot, you may want to consider an annual health insurance plan that covers you when you go abroad. Some plans offer “secondary” insurance, meaning you need to have health insurance back home. Primary policies are also available, but typically offer lower coverage limits.
Medicare doesn’t usually cover events outside the country, so if you are on Medicare and traveling internationally, consider a travel insurance policy that includes emergency medical expenses.
Tip: If coverage of a travel insurance policy would be redundant, skip it. For example, your credit card or other insurance might provide the coverage you need when traveling. Chase credit cards are particularly comprehensive, offering coverage up to $10,000 per trip; American Express cards, however, provide minimal coverage in these situations. Call your card provider for more information.
Are you going on a cruise or taking a package tour? Perhaps you have a complicated or lengthy itinerary. If any of these apply to you, travel insurance is something to seriously consider. Cruise lines and tour operators used to be more flexible when it came to allowing travelers to rebook missed cruises and tours. Today, not so much. As for those with packed itineraries, travel insurance will protect you if something doesn’t go according to plan, allowing you to recover quickly and preventing a domino effect.
Tip: A new and exceptional travel insurance plan from Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway, AirCare covers things that no other company does. AirCare pays $1,000 for a tarmac delay over two hours or a lost bag, $500 for a checked bag delayed over 12 hours or a missed connection, and $50 for a flight delay over two hours. Payments are immediate and automatic, are cumulative if all of the above happens on your vacation, and are in addition to whatever you receive from other sources.
Tip: Another important travel protection option is emergency medical evacuation coverage, which is ideal for the very active traveler. If you become ill or injured in a foreign country, companies such as MedjetAssist and AirMed will come rescue you and fly you back home to a hospital of your choice at no cost. Since emergency medical flights can cost $100,000 or more, it’s the type of accident most people can’t afford. Policies are sold by the trip and also on annual plans for those who travel often. Some travel insurance policies include medical evacuation.
If you are thinking about buying travel insurance simply for the peace of mind, then go for it! Even if you can’t recover all of your money in the event of a loss, you may still be able to take advantage of certain benefits.
Tip: Also available is “cancel for any reason” travel insurance. It is more expensive than regular insurance and claims must be made at least 48 hours prior to departure, but it covers just about everything. This even includes breaking up with your boyfriend or your pet getting sick just before a trip.
Your trip includes components not covered by insurance. If, for example, you are staying at a friend’s house, using a flight voucher, or redeeming frequent flier miles for your getaway, travel insurance would probably hardly be useful. (Some travel insurance policies may cover the cost of redepositing miles when you need to cancel for a covered reason.)
You have a preexisting medical condition that would not be covered. Read your policy carefully, as some insurance policies do cover existing medical conditions when certain requirements are met. Preexisting medical conditions that are controlled are typically covered if the policy is purchased within a certain time following the initial deposit and payment of your trip.
Your first option when shopping for travel insurance is buying directly from a provider. Travelers can purchase insurance policies directly from companies, usually online. The big names are Allianz, CSA, and Travel Guard. For a full list of other insurance companies, visit the U.S. Travel Insurance Association’s website.
You can also buy a policy through a travel agent or third party. Your travel agent may offer an insurance policy. You may also consult an online company that specializes in comparing and evaluating insurance policies. These companies include Squaremouth, Travel Insurance Review, Trip Insurance Store, and InsureMyTrip.com. These can be useful resources for quickly finding the best insurance policy for your circumstances.
When you’re evaluating whether or not you should buy a travel insurance policy, ask yourself the above questions. Determine what is best for your vacation needs. There are many types of coverage and you can never be too safe when traveling!