Living in the carefree days of my twenties, the thought of travel insurance never crossed my mind. When I was young I never truly thought about the incidentals, my laser-like focus was on the end goal…my trip. Like any invincible youth, I couldn’t envision anything that might go wrong to ruin my travel plans. Now that I’m older and marginally wiser, I can see the value in protecting myself, my investment and my hard-earned money.
Is Travel Insurance Necessary?
Let’s face it, things go wrong. People miss connecting flights, your Aunt Bessie dies, baggage goes missing, you get laid off from your job, you accidentally drink the water in Mexico. The list of mishaps that can occur is literally endless. Having travel insurance can cover almost any awaiting disaster. Planning a vacation is expensive and without travel insurance, you could be left in the lurch if some unforeseen event should occur. It all comes down to selecting the policy that provides you with the coverage that make you feel safe, comfortable, and protects your investment.
What Can Be Cover by Travel Insurance?
In short, everything. There are policies that cover just about anything that could possibly happen.
- Trip cancellation—Covers almost any event that would cause you to cancel your trip such as illness or death, layoff, natural disaster, even terrorist attacks.
- Trip Interruption—Covers unfortunate events that should interrupt your trip and force you to return home such as illness or death, terrorist attack, natural disaster and worker strikes.
- Emergency Medical—Additional medical coverage that would fill in the gap of your personal medical policy.
- Baggage Loss
- Flight Accident
- Rental Car
- Kidnap and Ransom
Where and How to Purchase—
Travel Insurance can be purchased either online or through an agent. If you book your trip through a travel agent, it will most likely be offered. However, you can also purchase through your insurance broker or car insurance carrier.
Why Purchase Through an Agent—If you aren’t one to read through the fine print and have trouble deciphering legalese this is definitely the way to go. It will provide you with a real person to talk to and have someone who can answer specific questions and explain the fine print as well as create a personalized policy that is tailored to your needs.
Why Purchase Online—Purchasing travel insurance online gives you the flexibility to cost compare many different policies and companies. While you don’t have the individual service that an agent would provide, you will be able to save money by essentially cutting out the middle man. Many websites offer different degrees of coverage provided by numerous well known and reputable insurance companies and allow customers to build a plan based on their needs.
How to Save on Travel Insurance and Make it More Affordable
- Occasionally travel insurance is included with your home owner’s policy. Review your home owner's, medical, and auto insurance policies with your agent to see if they cover any of the expenses of your trip. Most of the time medical coverage will not cover all of incidentals that could occur. It’s a good idea to review your plans to see what it does cover, especially if you are heading out of the country or are participating in a dangerous activity.
- If you are renting a car, typically your personal auto policy will cover the rental and purchasing the additional insurance is not necessary. If you should sustain damage to the retail car, the damage is covered under the liability coverage of your personal policy and is not subject to a deductible. Check with your agent to get a firm understanding of your policy. Additionally, if you’re leaving the country, your agent can add additional insurance coverage with little to no additional cost to you.
- If you purchase your vacation with a credit card, often the credit card will reimburse purchasers for cancelled trips, or other incidentals, depending on the circumstances. Although the credit cards coverage is limited, it could save you money when determining how much insurance to purchase. Check with your credit card company to determine their policy for reimbursement and cancellation.
- Check into purchasing travel insurance from one of your current insurance carriers, such as your homeowners or auto policies. You could be entitled to discounts for having multiple policies.
- Shop around—Compare policies from several different websites and companies. Some companies will insure children for free. This can be a big savings for families.
- If you are someone who travels a great deal, purchasing annual travel insurance, rather than insuring each individual trip can also save you a great deal. However, for someone with a medical condition, purchasing individual one-time insurance is going to be the cheaper way to go.
- If you have special needs or a preexisting medical condition, there are policies out there that can be honed to your specific needs and still offer you coverage. It’s important to be honest and forthcoming with any medical condition. If you develop an issue while away, it most likely won’t be covered if you haven’t been honest.
Watch for Loop Holes and Read the Fine Print
When you are purchasing insurance, it is important to look for the loop holes and legal restrictions that are often listed in the fine print. Among these are:
- Preexisting conditions and life-threatening conditions may not be covered by your policy and may require you to provide information on your condition.
- There are incidents that aren’t covered such as war, suicide, or self-inflicted injury.
- There are certain activities that may be excluded from your policy. Generally, this involves hazardous activities such as mountaineering, skydiving, or extreme sports of that nature.
- Incidents involving committing a crime or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol could make your policy void.