A solid travel insurance plan is a smart way to protect the investment you make in a trip in case the unexpected happens. As the pandemic continues to show us, the unexpected is always a possibility.
Match Coverage to Your Journey and Destination
Your vacation destination and itinerary play a significant role in determining how much coverage you might need. Let’s say you’re booking an overseas excursion with connecting flights that include multiple sightseeing tours, entertainment at various venues, and some exploration and sporty activities.
For a trip like this, consider a comprehensive travel insurance plan that includes:
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage can reimburse you for pre-paid, non-refundable costs if you have to cancel or cut your trip short, due to reasons listed in the policy.
- Trip delay insurance to compensate you for expenses incurred during a layover and for missed activities you paid for in advance that are non-refundable.
- Medical expenses coverage for medical treatment, medicine, X-rays, and more.
- Medical evacuation coverage in case you need to go by medevac to a better medical facility.
- Baggage loss coverage can provide compensation if your luggage is lost, stolen, or damaged.
Travel Medical Insurance for Overseas Travel
If you’re traveling only within the U.S., your health plan likely covers medical costs. But it might have very limited if any, coverage overseas. Check your plan’s details for global coverage to see how much travel medical insurance you may need. And Medicare typically isn’t accepted abroad.
It’s often crucial to have travel medical insurance for trips outside the country. This type of coverage pays “reasonable and customary charges” for costs such as:
- Doctor bills
- Ambulance service
- Hospital room charges
- Operating room charges
- Examinations, X-rays, and lab tests
Buy Travel Insurance Soon After You Book Your Trip
If you don’t buy a travel insurance policy shortly after booking a trip, you forfeit some benefits. Some types of coverage are available only within a certain time frame, generally around 14 to 21 days after making the first trip deposit. These benefits include:
- Coverage for pre-existing medical conditions. Buying a travel insurance plan right away allows you to get a pre-existing medical condition exclusion waiver. Without one, you won’t be covered for medical expenses or medical evacuation if an existing condition you have flares up on your trip.
- “Cancel for any reason” upgrade. If offered by your travel insurance company, you generally need to add “cancel for any reason” within two to three weeks after making your first trip deposit.
Consider Pros and Cons of “Cancel For Any Reason” Coverage
Standard trip cancellation benefits apply only when you cancel for a reason listed in your policy. But if you want the greatest flexibility, consider “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) travel insurance. It reimburses a portion of the non-refundable, prepaid expenses of your trip if you want to cancel for reasons not listed in the base policy. It adds an average of 50% to an insurance plan’s cost. And it has some special rules.
- You can’t cancel at the last minute—you have to cancel at least 48 hours before departure in order to make a “cancel for any reason” claim.
- You generally don’t get 100% compensation—you get 50% or 75%, depending on the plan.
- You have to add the coverage within two or three weeks of making your first payment for your trip. The purchase deadline varies by company, but don’t procrastinate if you think you want CFAR coverage.
You could make a CFAR claim, for example, if you don’t like the Covid testing requirements at your destinations, or if it’s going to be rainy at your beach resort. These types of reasons aren’t covered under standard trip cancellation insurance but will be covered under CFAR coverage.
Check Your Credit Card’s Perks for Travel Insurance
Before you put down money on a travel insurance plan, look into what coverage you might already have in your wallet. You might be pleasantly surprised if your credit card includes travel insurance.
For example, a credit card might offer trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. This coverage kicks in if you cancel for an acceptable reason or if your trip is cut short due to problems covered by the credit card, like severe weather.
You must use the card for booking the trip in order to receive the card’s insurance benefits. Here are Forbes Advisor’s best credit cards for travel insurance benefits.
Look into Adventure Travel Insurance If You’re Planning Riskier Activities
Travel insurance policies typically have exclusions for high-risk activities. For example, if you’re skydiving or parasailing during the trip, your travel medical insurance might not cover you if you get injured.
If your trip includes activities that skew from the traditional sightseeing or museum tours, make sure to get a policy that will cover your specific higher-risk activities. A travel insurance agent can help you find the right options based on your itinerary.
Confirm Covid Coverage and Check Visitor Guidelines
Not all travel insurance policies include coverage for pandemics. If you’re concerned about Covid-related problems, be sure the plans you’re considering cover Covid-related cancellations and medical costs.
And be aware that many countries still have Covid-related rules for visitors. For instance, you may need to show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test taken within three days before your departure. Be sure to ask your travel agent or check government websites for the most current guidelines.
Find Out if Your Travel Insurance Company Has a Mobile App
Some travel insurance companies have mobile apps that make it easy to manage your trip plans (and problems) on the go. For example, the Allianz TravelSmart app provides live flight updates and you can use it to access Alllianz’s 24-hour concierge and assistance services.
Another benefit is that you can file and track claims from the app. This is especially advantageous for travel delay benefits. For instance, if you’re eligible for a travel delay claim, you can receive reimbursement for a hotel stay during your layover instead of having to pay the money upfront and receive compensation after you return home and file a claim.
There are also some companies that offer fast-tracking for travel delay benefits through add-ons to certain travel plans. For instance, Allianz offers SmartBenefits that provides an automatic travel delay reimbursement of $100 per person without having to provide receipts. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection can pay you the same day you file a claim if you elect electronic payment methods for your plan.
Don’t Assume Travel Insurance Is Cost-Prohibitive
You may think travel insurance is a pricey proposition, but it can be relatively affordable. If you’ve paid thousands of dollars in deposits for your vacation, travel insurance can be a wise way to safeguard the investment.
The average cost of a travel insurance plan in 2021 for domestic travelers was $297. For overseas travelers, the average cost was $357, according to data from Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider.