The best travel insurance can help you minimize the considerable financial risks of traveling. Whether you’re dealing with an unexpected illness, a bankrupt tour operator, or a lost suitcase, all of these scenarios have the potential to ruin your travels. With so many different travel insurance policies however it can be a little bit overwhelming trying to determine which level of cover is right for you. We have put together some tips that may be useful when determining your travel insurance cover.
Here’s a quick look at some of the most popular travel insurance companies:
World Nomads – WorldNomads is the preferred choice for budget backpackers and independent travelers. They are also popular with adventurous travelers looking to do a little bit more on their vacation than sunbathe. They’re recommended by travel companies such as Lonely Planet and Rough Guides. Policies are available to those under 70 years.
Allianz Global Assistance – Allianz is one of the oldest insurance companies in the United States, having insured the Wright Brothers’ first flight. Today, it offers single-trip and annual travel insurance plans designed to accommodate both frequent and infrequent travelers.
AIG Travel Guard – Travel Guard has been providing travel insurance services for over 25 years and distributes its services to over 12,000 companies. It offers international insurance options to both business and casual travelers.
What to look for when deciding on travel insurance?
Plane tickets, home rentals, cruise fare, hotel rooms and tour packages can be expensive to cancel and for a fraction of the trip cost, you can reduce the risk of losing money if something unforeseen happens.
Trip Cancellation Coverage reimburses you for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses if you need to cancel your trip before you depart.
Check the travel insurance policy for a list of covered reasons for trip cancellation. Below are a few examples of covered reasons to cancel your trip:
- Sickness, injury, or death of you or a traveling companion
- Required to work, terminated, or transferred
- Terrorist incident in your destination city
- Theft of passport or visa prior to trip
- Bankruptcy of your travel supplier
- Canceled flight due to weather conditions or mechanical breakdown
Trip Interruption Coverage is similar to cancellation coverage, but covers you while you are on your trip but have to cut it short for the same list of covered reasons. In this case, you’ll be compensated only for the portion of the trip that you didn’t complete as well as any additional expenses for the last-minute flight home.
Before purchasing trip-cancellation or interruption coverage, it’s a good idea to check with your credit-card company as it may already offer limited coverage for flights or hotels purchased with the card.
You don’t want to end up with a big medical bill if you get ill or have a serious accident while on holiday. Medical Expense Coverage provides cover towards the costs for accidents and emergency medical and dental care when you travel abroad. Most experts recommend a minimum of $2,000,000 medical cover if you are travelling abroad.
Before buying a medical insurance policy for your holiday, check with your medical insurer as you might already be covered by your existing health plan. Keep in mind however that even though some health insurance companies pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few pay for your medical evacuation back home. Also, be sure to check any policy exclusions such as preauthorization requirements.
The health care you get while traveling outside the United States is not covered by Medicare.
Emergency Evacuation Coverage will pay for the costs of getting you to a place where you can receive appropriate medical treatment in the event of an emergency. This is usually not covered by your regular medical-insurance plan. Evacuation expenses can easily cost $50,000. An ambulance to the hospital, an airlift to a larger city hospital, getting you back home on board a medically-staffed flight afterwards. Costs like these can add up very quickly.
Baggage Coverage can reimburse you for your personal belongings if your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged. It is included in most extensive policies, but it’s rarely bought separately, and there’s a strict cap on compensation for such items as electronics, jewellery and camera equipment. If you check your baggage for a flight, it’s already covered by the airline. Keep in mind that some insurance companies will insist on a receipt for personal belongings above a certain value when you need to claim for your baggage.
If you’re ever in a situation where you need to call your travel insurer for help, you’ll want to know that it has people available around the clock. Your insurance policy should include a 24 help line to provide support for medical emergencies, lost passports, stolen baggage and cancelled flights.
Coverage for children
Some policies extend their coverage to children traveling with you at no additional cost. With some ‘family policies’ children up to age 21 are covered but most policies have lower age cutoffs.
Adventure Sports coverage
It’s important to remember that medical and evacuation insurance may not cover you if you’re participating in an activity your insurer considers to be dangerous. If you plan to go bungee jumping, horse riding, scuba diving, mountain biking and even skiing you’ll need supplementary adventure-sports coverage.
If you travel abroad more than twice a year, annual holiday insurance or multi-trip insurance often work out cheaper than taking out multiple single trip policies for each trip you take. You also have the benefit of being able to take trips at short notice without having to arrange insurance. Travel insurers differ in terms of how many consecutive days they’ll provide cover for, so once again make sure you check the small print of your policy.