Travel Insurance Tips

by Chris on May 28, 2011

Curious about travel insurance? Some tips on what you need to know before you buy.

We all know the steps in booking a vacation. First you buy your plane ticket, then you secure a hotel and then you think about transportation and plot out all the fun activities that you’ll do once you get there. Purchasing travel insurance doesn’t always make the list.

And I’ll admit, travel insurance isn’t always something that I do on every vacation either. But I should make it a regular part of my trip planning ritual, especially as I won’t always work for an employer who offers overseas health insurance (most companies do not).

It’s important to be covered in case of a medical emergency overseas; you don’t want to be cursing your lack of health insurance AFTER you have an accident or are hospitalized with dengue fever. If you travel out of the country frequently, several companies such as Travelguard and MedJet have yearly premiums.

Here are a few guidelines to think about if you’re considering travel insurance:

Know what type of insurance you may need. Travel insurance generally breaks down into several categories: cancellation, interruption and delay, luggage loss, medical and weather. You’ll need to check each policy carefully to see that it covers everything that you want.

Figure out if your trip is worth covering. If you bought a plane ticket for under $300, is it really going to break you if you somehow can’t recoup that money or if plans go awry? Possibly not. But if you’re looking at a $8,000 vacation or a cruise, then yes, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re covered when things go wrong.

My husband and I did buy insurance for our honeymoon to Thailand and Cambodia back in 2007. While we never made a claim on it, it was nice having it for peace of mind.

See if you already have coverage. Many credit cards offer some protection on your investment, particularly if a flight is outright canceled by the airline (this is why it’s usually a better idea to book airplane tickets with a credit card, rather than a debit card). Check to see exactly what your particular card covers and doesn’t cover.

Also travel insurance often won’t cover expensive personal items such as electronics or jewelry, but your homeowners or rental insurance might (my rings, for example, have their own rider in our policies). You need to check, though. After making a few calls, my husband realized that his camera gear wouldn’t be covered if he took it overseas, so he bought separate insurance through a professional photographer association.

Buy sooner rather than later. Travel insurance is cheapest in the first weeks after you book your flights or trip, then usually rises the closest you get. And after a state of emergency – let’s say, a hurricane or tsunami – has been declared, forget it. You’re too late to get coverage.

Make sure it covers what you need. Let’s say you’ve finally decided to take that ski vacation to the Alps and you want to make sure you’re covered in case you break your leg. You may need to add an adventure sports rider to your policy.

Buy independently. Sometimes cruise ships or tour operators will offer their own insurance policies. But I’d get one from an independent provider. After all, you’re looking to get protection against bankruptcy, cancellations or things that could go wrong with that same company. Do you trust them to look after your needs – or their own?

Always read the fine print. Travel insurance policies are notorious for being sticklers on details. Concerned about what would happen if terrorist activity breaks out at your destination? Make sure you understand at what exact point the policy offers you a refund – is it when the US State Dept issues a travel warning? And what exactly will the company do for you when it happens?

It’s not fun to think about worst case scenarios, but that’s exactly why you buy travel insurance in the first place.

This post was brought to you by Travel Insurance by InsureandGo



| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

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