How Do I Know Which Travel Insurance is Right For Me?

When planning a vacation, you are likely picturing sunny skies, white sand, and having some fun with your family or friends not medical emergencies and theft of property. It is likely that neither situation will arise but better to be prepared than be caught off guard. A little planning can save you thousands of dollars should an unexpected event occur.

Preparatory Steps

Before you purchase travel insurance you should perform some research in terms of your current policy coverage.
Your homeowner’s policy may cover such items as lost or stolen luggage but not cover trip cancellation or delay. It is also likely that your existing health insurance won’t cover any medical emergencies that occur during travel.
Your credit card may cover travel accident insurance or baggage insurance. Unfortunately, the travel accident insurance provided by most credit card companies only apply in the event of accidental death.

Once you have determined what type of coverage you already have, purchase additional insurance to fill in remaining gaps. Premiums will be based in the duration of your trip or percentage of its total cost. As with other types of insurance, most travel policies will have a deductible.

Four Types of Travel Insurance

  1. Short term or single trip insurance covers trips up to 90 days. Single trip means that you will not be traveling again within the year.
  2. Long-term or multi-trip insurance covers trips of up to one year. An example of multi-trip insurance would be if you are working on a project for your company that will require periodic visits during the year to another location.
  3. Expatriate insurance covers people who relocate to another country, most often for work.
  4. Insurance for foreign nationals covers those who are non-U.S. citizens.

Policy Coverage

The type of incidents covered and coverage amounts can vary greatly between different travel insurance policies. Below is a list of features that are commonly covered:

  • Emergency medical care. Most policies will typically not cover routine physical exams.
  • Medical transport. Insurance will typically cover any transportation needed to bring you to the nearest hospital for treatment, even if at some distance away or in another country.
  • Emergency dental care. Again, most policies will not cover such routine dental services as checkups or cleanings.
  • Trip cancellation or postponement. Covers the cost of your tip if you need to cancel or postpone due to unforeseen circumstances such as international travel alerts.
  • Lost or stolen luggage. Most policies only cover up to a specific dollar amount.
  • Repatriation of any possessions. Most policies assist with the cost of wading through red tape to have your possessions returned from other countries.
  • Legal assistance, referrals, and multilingual services. Each can be invaluable resource during emergency situations.

Typical Exclusions

Like many other insurance policies there are exceptions to what is covered. Common exclusions include:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • Self-inflicted wounds
  • Suicide
  • Mental impairment
  • War-related injuries
  • Sports activities (scuba diving, hiking, hand-gliding, bicycling, etc.

Selecting a policy

  • Evaluate your current insurance coverage under your home owners and/or health policies. Check with your credit card company as well. For example, American Express offers travel insurance to its card holders.
  • Confer with your travel agent to find the policy that best matches your needs.
  • Search the Internet and compare/contrast the policies offered by different insurance companies then call to verify the information you find.

Evaluate your Needs

Several considerations will determine which type of policy may be best for your situation:

  • Duration of your trip
  • State of general health
  • Trip destination: coverage may vary depending on whether you are traveling inc-country or internationally.
  • Participation in any high risk activities such as mountain climbing or bungee jumping.

Compare policies

  • Evaluate your needs against the coverage offered by different types of policies. Things to consider include:
  • Type of incidents covered and what’s excluded.
  • The cost of the policy
  • The deductible required before insurance takes effect.
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