Travel insurance is the only type of insurance that I feel good about buying. When I hear the word “insurance” I often picture the scene in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray’s character (in a recurring scene) punches Ned in the face after he tells him that he sells insurance for a living. Fortunately there are no travel insurance agents knocking on your door. It’s self-service, easy to buy, and a very small expense.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t purchase trip insurance coverage for every trip. Either I go with an annual policy when I’m doing a lot of travel that year or I buy a single trip policy when booking a major vacation. The weekend getaways and trips close to home rarely require a safety net. However I always think about travel insurance when it comes time to book expensive, complex, or risky trips. When I’m planning a vacation that involves one or more of these three elements, I seek out ways to protect myself and my loved ones just in case.
I wish I never had to think about the other kinds of insurance because they are never fun to deal with. Whether it’s auto, home, health, life, or business, they are all difficult to understand and I am often left feeling taken advantage of. Just thinking about reading the fine print of an insurance policy makes my head spin.
If you are complete beginner when it comes to travel insurance, start by reading this helpful article at Allianz.com – Travel Insurance 101 : How Travel Insurance Works.
Unfortunately while travel insurance has a lot of fine print too, it is easier to comprehend and feel good about buying a policy. After years of travel I have come up with these five solid reasons why buying trip insurance is worth considering for your next vacation.
Buying life insurance (as opposed to travel insurance) is indeed a major deal despite what those misleading ads on daytime TV tell you about how little it costs “per unit.” Whatever that means! The reality is you have to compare policy types (for example, do you follow the often repeated financial advice that says whole life insurance is a poor retirement investment vehicle so go with term life insurance instead?), insurance agents, and coverage limitations. Supporting your family in the event that you die is a serious decision. These policies may cost you a ton of money over your lifetime.
Fortunately travel insurance is not expensive and you won’t feel misled afterwards. Compared with the cost of an entire vacation for you and your partner or family, it is a relatively small expense. Policies are priced based on only a few factors such as ages, destinations, and activities. You’ll be glad to know that there are no doctors exams and few if any medical questions to answer. Simply fill in the form online to get a quote instantly without locking you in to a long-term commitment.
The key is to know when to buy a policy. The general advice is to pay for travel insurance around the time that you put down a first deposit on a trip. Having a pre-existing medical condition could affect coverage timing like if you want to be able to cancel for any reason. When purchasing a policy for one trip, you usually need to know the approximate total cost of your trip even if you only just put down a deposit on a cruise or guided group tour package.
Tip: To save on your next policy, opt for a basic policy with less cover, lower reimbursement amounts, and higher deductibles. If you are comfortable with those coverage amount limits and don’t require the gold package.
There are several types of travel insurance policies to choose from, but the biggest decision to make is whether to insure each trip individually or whether it is more economical to buy an annual policy for you or your family. When you only occasionally travel abroad and are in excellent health, it may make sense to insure only those expensive, complex, or risky trips that I mentioned earlier.
However if you travel multiple times in a year, have existing medical concerns, or visit destinations without a standard of health care that you’re used to, buying an annual travel insurance policy is probably more cost-effective. It definitely saves you time since you can buy one policy that lasts the entire year. I personally choose the annual option so that my wife and I can book our frequent travel plans without worrying about whether we’re covered. Many policies even offer additional rental car protection which is terrific if you rent a car often while on vacation.
With an annual policy you must review not just the policy benefits but also any limitations that may be in effect. For example you may be limited as to the length of each trip and for the total number of days you can be covered while traveling outside of your home country.
When reading the coverage fine print with any travel insurance policy, make sure that you know which types of sport and adventure travel activities are excluded. For example your policy may not cover injuries or death during scuba diving, skiing, or bungee jumping. A hazardous sports rider may be available to purchase as an add-on to the main policy. Be sure to ask!
Planning a trip can turn from a pleasurable to a stressful experience when it comes time to pull out your credit card. Eventually you’ll have to pay for flights, book a hotel, or put down a deposit on a multi-day tour or cruise. These all come with their own cancellation policies which range from fully refundable to a 100% cancellation fee. To get the best price you may wish to select a non-refundable rate and take your chances. That is where travel insurance comes to the rescue if plans change.
Ask yourself how much money you would be willing to lose if you book a vacation that you have to cancel due to a health or other emergency. Everyone has their own comfort zone. For example if you book a $200 flight and a hotel that can be cancelled up until 24 hours, your risk is quite low. However putting down a deposit of thousands of dollars for a family cruise or safari package is a scary proposition. At what point is your next trip too expensive to book without protecting your hard-earned money in case of a personal or family emergency?
The same applies to other covered reasons for cancelling a trip. For example if a flight is cancelled due to weather or airline strikes or if your cruise cannot sail on time due to mechanical or political reasons, will you get your deposit money back? What if you are robbed of your passport and money while traveling or twist your ankle while hiking among ancient ruins? Every vacation is different so you have to consider your level of health and fitness, likelihood of an accident happening, potential out-of-pocket loss, and what’s covered and what’s not covered in case of travel disruptions beyond your control.
To figure out your own travel insurance requirements always read the change and cancellation policy for your flights, accommodations, tours, transfers, and cruise bookings. That is the only way to determine when you are covered by default and when your travel insurance can kick in. With both flights and hotels you often have a choice of booking a variety of fares/rates from flexible to non-refundable. It’s hard to resist the lowest fare or nightly rate, so trip insurance is your peace of mind when you have to put down a large at-risk deposit on your next vacation.
You know how to get healthcare at home by making an appointment with your own doctor or by calling 911 in case of an emergency. Going abroad is a completely different story. The standard of healthcare available outside the U.S. varies greatly so it is critical to read up the countries that you are planning to visit before you leave home.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Travel Health website (cdc.gov/travel/) is an essential resource to get the facts from a trusted government agency. This includes the risk of catching a serious disease and the required or recommended vaccinations for each country. Just select your destination from the list and check off any boxes that apply.
Besides learning about the health risks of travel, you have to know if and how your own health insurance policy covers you and your family members while on vacation. If you get sick or injured and have to visit a doctor, talk to a nurse, or be admitted to a hospital for surgery, will they reimburse you afterwards?
Unless you have a high-end health insurance policy, it probably doesn’t offer much coverage when traveling to a foreign country. For those of you who are retired or retiring soon, Medicare doesn’t offer benefits outside of the United States of America either. You have to buy a travel insurance policy that includes medical expense benefits if you want to avoid the surprise of an expensive hospital stay while on vacation. While trip cancellation and interruption insurance is the most popular reason for buying travel insurance (source: U.S. Travel Insurance Association), travel and medical evacuation is next.
When you are ready to get a quote for a travel medical policy you will probably be asked which country or countries you’ll be visiting on your trip itinerary. It could affect the rate you receive and the limits of coverage. As with all insurance read the fine print so you know if age is a factor or if any pre-existing conditions, risky activities, or third-world destinations have coverage limits or exclusions.
To make a policy decision like between Basic and Silver and Gold, consider how much financial coverage you are comfortable with in the event that you get sick or injured abroad. Is $25,000 or $50,000 enough or do you need more? What about having $100,000 evacuation coverage so you can be airlifted to the nearest major hospital or back home?
Maybe peace of mind will be the reason that you decide to insure you next vacation. When you have a lot of time and money invested in a trip for you and your family, you don’t want to lose sleep at night. Vacations are supposed to fill you with excitement, not worry.
You’ll feel better knowing that if anything goes wrong such as any of the following, your travel insurance policy may come to the rescue. Disclaimer: It depends on the exact policy that you purchase as to the coverage types, benefits, and comprehensiveness, so this list is for information purposes only.
Of course every policy and travel insurance provider is different so you’ll need to compare the policy cost versus benefits. Only you can decide what type of coverage to buy that fits within your travel budget, comfort level, and risk profile. A gold or comprehensive travel policy may cover a majority of these bullet items, but coverage scenarios and financial limits will vary greatly.
As part of a travel blogging married couple who visit numerous European countries and take one or two major vacations across the world each year, travel medical insurance coverage is always an important concern. The last thing I want to do is worry about getting sick or injured (seriously or not) while on vacation. Vacations are meant to be worry-free zones (read how to get into the vacation mindset), so we’ve decided to buy an annual travel cancellation and interruption insurance policy that includes both global health insurance and medical evacuation.
Honestly who wants to deal with the burden or potentially huge expense of paying for a doctor’s office visit or a hospital stay when in a foreign country? I have no idea what it will cost for example fix a broken bone or treat an infection while on vacation abroad. Will I need to shop around or hire a translator if English isn’t spoken? The thought of having to be evacuated to a reputable hospital is of even greater concern as that would be extremely expensive. I’ll pay whatever it costs to take care of my family. However I would rather have insurance that takes care of not just the cost of transport to a major medical center, but also can be on the phone to coordinate the entire process. How’s that for peace of mind?
The ability to call your travel insurance company using an overseas phone number is the key here. You can call internationally (even collect) with simple trip coverage questions or in case of an emergency, to request urgent help. Will that make you feel more at ease and less stressed about potentially dangerous situations while on vacation? It absolutely does for me when I’m taking an expensive trip to a distant country or if it involves a bit more adventure like going on safari or embarking on an international cruise. I’ll bet if you think about it you’ll feel the same way.
Since you’ve probably found and read this article to get quick answers, I do want to mention my recommended travel insurance provider. As with all partner offers on VacationCounts.com, you’ll be supporting my efforts to encourage people to take more time off. Allianz Global Assistance has been in the business for over 100 years and offers a full range of travel insurance products to customers in America.
It will cost you nothing and you don’t even have to enter your contact information to get a fast quote (U.S. residents only). Find out what it will cost to protect your next vacation or to buy an annual trip and medical insurance policy for you and your family. I recommend the affordable Annual Deluxe Plan for the right balance of trip protection benefits and health coverage piece of mind.
Get a no commitment quote for travel insurance with Allianz to compare policies and benefits in a few clicks. Is an annual policy right for you versus buying insurance for one major vacation? It takes only a few minutes to receive an automated instant quote and review coverage options and costs.
Disclaimer: The advertisements and affiliate links in the article will take you to third-party websites where you can learn more about travel insurance policies. VacationCounts may earn a small fee if you buy a policy, but in no way does this cost you anything nor affect the advice provided which is our own opinion. All travel insurance companies and policies are different – we make no warranties or guarantees and your experience will vary. All advice is at your own risk and you should always read the fine print before buying a policy and making a claim.
It’s your turn! Do you have a story about how travel insurance has saved the day? Add a comment about your own positive experience (please don’t use this as a forum for complaints) about protecting your money and health while on vacation.
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