Travel Insurance: Know Before You Go
If you're considering a travel insurance policy for your next big trip, make sure you know exactly what is covered and what you need.
Planning a big trip anytime soon? Whether you've only booked the flights or already have every plan in place, you've probably realized that any major excursion will add up to a significant expense. But not everyone knows that they could purchase a travel insurance policy to protect some of that investment in case the trip doesn't go as planned. Before purchasing a travel insurance policy, there are a few important details that every adventurer needs to consider.
"Travel insurance can be more complex than other insurance products."
Writing for product review site The Wirecutter, Greg Daugherty noted that even for an insurance product, travel policies can be surprisingly complicated . Most other kinds of insurance that we are familiar with, like health, auto and homeowners policies, protect against accidents or costly damage to property you own. So does travel insurance protect damage to the trip of your lifetime? That's one way of looking at it, but again, it can get complicated quickly.
What travel insurance covers
According to the Insurance Information Institute, travel insurance is purchased to cover one person for the duration of their trip against specific events, or "perils" in technical insurance terminology. There are four common perils that are protected as part of a travel insurance policy, which may be bought separately or could come bundled together:
- Trip cancelation insurance will reimburse you for the cost of the trip if it is canceled for any of the specific reasons listed on the policy. If the policy states it specifically, these plans may cover cancelations caused by personal illness, the tour or cruise operator going out of business, a death in the family and other events that would prevent you from attending. If the terms of the policy are met, the plan should reimburse the costs related to the trip up to a certain limit.
- Baggage or personal effects coverage will reimburse the cost of any belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged in the course of the trip. These policies tend to be very inclusive, insuring belongings up to a certain amount for an entire year.
- Emergency medical assistance will cover costs related to suffering a serious medical problem during the trip. This is especially useful when traveling abroad or in remote areas where high-quality medical care may be hard to reach. These policies often cover the cost of emergency evacuation via airlift, which can be a significant expense.
- Accidental death coverage will reimburse costs if the absolute worst should happen and you or a family member dies in the course of your trip. These plans may work in tandem with a life insurance policy, but can also be rolled into emergency medical coverage as listed above.
You may already be covered
Travel insurance policies are tailored specifically with these coverage categories in mind. However, what many travelers don't realize is that they might already be covered for these perils under an existing policy. For example:
- Many homeowners or renters insurance policies will continue to cover your belongings anywhere in the world, even if they are lost, stolen or damaged.
- Some health insurance plans will provide coverage for medical expenses outside of the U.S.
- Life insurance policies, when in effect, will probably negate an accidental death policy included in a travel insurance package.
- Many credit cards, particularly those that offer travel rewards, often provide similar types of coverage that a travel insurance policy would, but sometimes with lower limits and more restrictions.
- The airline, cruise line, hotel or tour provider you book your trip through will usually reimburse customers for accidents for which they (the provider) could be found at fault.
With all of this in mind, consider what you might already be protected against and look for travel insurance policies that meet your specific needs before embarking on your next adventure.