When planning a trip, nobody wants to think about what might go wrong, but the reality is that things can go wrong even with the most meticulously prepared trips. Flights can get cancelled; luggage can get lost; and injuries can occur. Do you have a plan for those less-than-perfect vacation moments?
To make sure your vacation isn’t completely derailed in case something does come up, you may want to consider purchasing a travel insurance policy. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to protect your family and your finances so you can enjoy your travels worry-free.
What is Travel Insurance?
This insurance covers the medical expenses and financial losses that could arise while you are away from home on a trip, whether it is for business or recreation. It can be purchased for trips of any length (be it five days or five months), and can be tailored to your specific needs. This type of insurance is typically sold as either a package plan or a travel medical plan.
Package plans are popular among travelers because they bring several types of coverage together into one policy.
Package plans typically include:
- Medical coverage
- Emergency evacuation/repatriation of remains
- Accidental death and dismemberment coverage
- Last-minute trip cancellation (due to illness, inclement weather, etc.)
- Delayed or lost baggage insurance (including reimbursement for the replacement of essentials)
- Flight delay/cancellation insurance (If your travel plans are delayed for several hours, the insurance company will cover hotel accommodations and meals while you wait, and make new travel arrangements on your behalf)
- Trip interruption coverage (If inclement weather, illness, or injury cuts your trip short, you’ll be reimbursed for the unused portion of your trip)
- Replacement of travel documents, belongings and money that is lost or stolen
- Legal assistance
- 24-hour concierge service (to help you find medical care, change travel plans, etc.)
Package plans are typically purchased by:
- Those traveling abroad
- Purchasers of vacation packages (where large, non-refundable pre-payments are required)
- People going on a cruise (due to both the large, non-refundable pre-payments and the distance from medical care)
- Business travelers
- Senior travelers
Travel Medical Plans
Travel medical plans provide emergency assistance, medical coverage and emergency evacuation for those traveling abroad. In fact, these plans can be purchased for years for those who will be travelling abroad for extended periods of time.
Travel medical plans are typically purchased by:
- Individuals who will be traveling outside of their country and the reach of their health insurance
Other Travel Insurance Options to Consider:
Annual – If you travel several times throughout the year, it may be cheaper to purchase annual insurance rather than a separate policy for each trip. This insurance typically includes medical coverage, emergency evacuation, baggage loss, and accidental death and dismemberment coverage. It does not usually include trip cancellation coverage, though it may be possible to add it.
Student – If you are a student with plans to travel abroad, look into student insurance for travelers. Policies can be purchased for both short trips and extended stays (up to four years) and are tailored to meet student visa requirements.
Business – If you take frequent trips for work, consider business travel insurance. It can be purchased for a single trip or on an annual basis. Coverage extends beyond the normal insurance limits to include reimbursement for canceled conferences and trade shows and reimbursement for lost or stolen laptops, exhibits, cell phones and other work-related items.
Do You Need It?
This type of insurance may seem like an extra until you consider the problems that could arise while you’re traveling. Consider these examples:
|Problems that Can Come Up||Why You Need Travel Insurance|
|Your daughter comes down with the flu the day before you’re scheduled to depart on your family vacation||You need to get back the non-refundable money that you put into your trip|
|You’re injured while on a safari, and can’t get the care that you need where you’re at||You need help arranging a medical evacuation and help with the related expenses|
|You hurt your back while out site-seeing in Paris||You need help locating an English-speaking doctor|
|While in Peru your wallet and passport get stolen||You need emergency money and help replacing your passport and credit cards|
|A hurricane forces an evacuation of the beach you’re staying at||You need to get back the money for the unused portion of your trip, and you need help making travel arrangements|
|Your luggage is lost, and your prescription medication is inside it||You need help locating your luggage and help getting your prescription filled quickly|
|You make it to Hawaii, but your luggage doesn’t||You need help locating your luggage, money for necessities while you wait for it to be found and replacement money, if it can’t be found|
|You break your leg, and can no longer go on your white water rafting trip||You need to get back the non-refundable money that you put into your trip|
Where to Buy Travel Insurance
This insurance can be purchased from a number of sources. These include:
- Your current insurance provider (for auto, life, etc.)
- Online brokers
- Travel agents
For help finding a reputable insurance provider, refer to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association website. They maintain a list of members that are in good standing.
Before You Buy Insurance
Before you invest in a policy, do a full review of your existing insurance coverage. Many homeowner’s policies include property loss protection and liability coverage that travels with you, while many credit card companies offer medical assistance and baggage loss protection to customers who charge their airfare to the card. You may even find that your health insurance provider covers overseas medical emergencies. Explore your existing coverage to see where you stand. Then, buy a policy that meets your travel needs.
Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure the policy meets your needs.
Many policies exclude:
- Pre-existing conditions
- Injuries caused by high-risk activities like skydiving or scuba diving
- Travel to high-risk countries (due to war, acts of terrorism or natural disaster)
If any of these exclusions apply to you, do a bit more research to find a travel insurance policy that meets your needs.