Travel Insurance 101 – Medical Insurance, Trip Cancellation, Evacuation
The fact is, unfortunate things can and do happen when traveling, even domestically, and travel insurance protects you from being burdened by the costs associated with those little surprises – illness, injury, theft, flight delays, violent weather, etc.
According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, even though unexpected events interfere with the travel plans of 17 percent of Americans, less than 25 percent purchase travel insurance. Traveling without insurance is a risk that could have catastrophic financial impacts on you and your family.
Understanding what travel insurance covers
In general, travel insurance policies will protect travelers from the additional expenses associated with the following types of occurrences (there are caps and stipulations on reimbursing expenses or covering stolen items so be sure to read your policy very carefully, and do not assume anything):
- You have to cancel your non-refundable trip because a family member had an accident and cannot travel.
- You have to book a hotel and pay for meals because of an overnight flight delay because of bad weather.
- You went to Athens, Greece, but your luggage went to Athens, Ohio and as a result you had to purchase clothing and other necessary items to continue your trip.
- You missed your cruise departure because of weather-related flight delays.
- You need medical assistance while traveling abroad.
- Your luggage arrived, but thanks to the travel ban and having to place your electronics in your luggage, your tablet and camera were stolen.
- Your bed and breakfast burns down (see photo above) and not only is your luggage destroyed, but you will need a new place to stay.
The above are but a few examples of coverage provided by good travel insurance policies. Take the time to compare and shop for the travel insurance that will best meet your travel requirements.
Deciding what type of travel insurance you need
When deciding whether travel insurance is right for you, compare companies, policy coverage, benefits and prices. Also find out what is included as well as excluded in any travel insurance policy.
1. Know what coverage you might already have. Check your current health and homeowner’s policies to know what you are protected against. Unless you have exceptionally good health insurance, it is unlikely that it will provide for international medical emergencies. Even if your policy does, it may not provide any coverage at all for medical evacuation. And while your homeowner’s policy might cover you for stolen items while traveling domestically, it is unlikely if there is any coverage for international travel. There are exceptions and additional protections that can be purchased – be sure to check with your agent.
2. Know what your credit card will cover. While many credit cards claim to be good for travel, few really are, and even fewer still offer truly strong travel insurance benefits. We were recently surprised to discover that American Express Business Platinum (an excellent travel card for its other benefits) did not cover us for costs associated with delayed luggage. Its insurance would only cover lost luggage. American Express also does not provide trip cancellation insurance, though they will be happy to sell you coverage. The following are three cards we know that stand out for the travel insurance coverage provided:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: This is one we also use most often, and it is considered by many to be the premium travel card (we do also have American Express Business Platinum though it is a distant second choice).
- Citi Prestige: Another strong travel card recommended by many.
- US Bank FlexPerks: This card also offers personal identity theft insurance.
3. Determine what types of insurance you need.
- Do you need coverage for trip cancellation, interruption and delay?
- What about medical insurance and medical evacuation coverage while traveling?
- Do you need coverage for pre-existing medical conditions? Most policies have specific exclusions, though some allow for pre-existing condition for a premium.
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