Bags packed. Tickets purchased. Passport renewed. What could go wrong? For many travelers, the time and energy invested into planning the perfect getaway makes a trip just that much more exciting. But what stands between your dream trip and a cancelled flight, unexpected medical emergency, or other events outside of your control? Expecting the unexpected is crucial when planning, which is where travel insurance comes into play.
Navigating your options can be hard and nobody has time to read all the fine print. That’s why the team at Reviews.com recently published a buyer’s guide to help travelers easily find the right travel insurance option for them. They recommend considering these key factors as you browse your options:
A simple web search of “Travel Insurance” is bound to turn up thousands of hits — many of them legitimate insurance plans sold from a variety of companies. But not all plans are created equal, and it’s important to choose one which allows you to add coverage in five major areas:
Cancellation/Interruption of your trip: This option reimburses prepaid expenses like flights, tours and hotels if your trip is interrupted because of a covered event.
Emergency Medical: Covers treatment costs for a medical emergency that happens while travelling.
How much medical is enough? Most U.S. health insurers don’t cover customers who are out of the country, so plan to have enough coverage for a week in the hospital. This can easily stack up to the $50,000 range, which is a good benchmark to aim for.
Medical Evacuation/Repatriation: coordinates and covers the cost of medical transportation to a treatment center (or home when necessary).
How much evacuation coverage is enough? First things first, this coverage is necessary because of how it differs from medical coverage. Even if your health insurance at home covers you abroad, a big gap in that coverage is the transportation home. What if you need to be medically evacuated, or flown home in a medically-staffed vehicle? These can cost in the $100,000 range, so try not to cut corners here.
Baggage/Personal Item Loss/Delay: For stolen, damaged, or lost bags and other personal property, this coverage reimburses the expense of items like clothing.
24/7 Assistance: Provides assistance with claims (especially medical emergencies).
Other nice-to-haves include “Cancel For Any Reason” options. Traditional cancellation coverage applies to covered events, like the airline delaying your flight or a medical emergency at home. But cancelling for anything other than these reasons can mean that you simply eat those costs. Having the option to cancel for other reasons and receive partial reimbursement allows for more freedom, particularly if you’re coordinating travel with a friend.
Financial solvency, meaning that the insurer can actually pay out the coverage you’re owed. This is big in the insurance industry, and you wouldn’t want to be hundreds or thousands in debt that you’re not actually reimbursed for.
Excellent customer service. It’s easy enough to sign up for insurance, but being able to rely on your insurer when the time comes to make a claim is another story. Avoid companies whose sales experience makes you uneasy, and don’t be afraid to ask detailed questions specific to your trip before you buy. For example, people planning on adventure activities during their trip may want to ensure these special circumstances don’t void their emergency medical.
One Last Tip
Oftentimes, any conversation about travel insurance begs the question about what coverage one already has because of their credit card company. And while you may be covered for some events, the fine print is crucial here. Credit card travel insurance typically falls short in one or more areas, as it’s not usually meant to be primary coverage in the event of a major emergency.