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As travel restrictions ease, vaccinations become more accessible and the public begins to feel more comfortable traveling again, the tourism industry is shaping up for a massive comeback. Along with the pent-up travel demand comes the necessity of travel insurance. Unforeseen circumstances, especially during a global pandemic, can impact even the most meticulously planned trip.
Travel insurance can save you significant money and, perhaps just as important, provide peace of mind when you are away from home. With so many policy choices, however, it can be easy to become overwhelmed or choose a policy that does not cover your particular needs. To help you navigate your options, below we explain the market for travel insurance and provide answers to some of the more common questions people have about purchasing a travel insurance policy.
When to Purchase Travel Insurance
While travel insurance can be a valuable tool, it is important to identify when you need it and when you may be paying for coverage that you do not need.
For example, many domestic trips may not require additional travel insurance because your trip cost may be relatively low, your health insurance may be accepted across the country, and the trip may be fully refundable.
If, however, you are taking an expensive trip (over $5,000), traveling abroad, or do not otherwise have supplemental coverage that might cover medical emergencies abroad, you may wish to purchase travel insurance.
Your Health Insurance Won’t Cover You Abroad
When you travel abroad, your domestic health insurance may not cover international healthcare charges. You may believe that since you have health insurance in your home country or state, you don’t need to purchase additional travel health insurance for when you travel. The reality is if you get hurt or sick while traveling outside the country, you will most likely have to pay for a hospital stay or other treatment out of pocket.
Travel medical insurance can be purchased by itself or as part of a more expansive travel insurance package. When you choose to buy travel medical insurance on its own, only medical emergencies and emergency evacuations are covered. If you purchase a comprehensive travel insurance plan, you can also be reimbursed for trip cancellation, lost baggage, trip delays, medical emergencies, evacuations and more.
Customers usually want to know the required minimum coverage they should purchase with their policies, and travel experts generally recommend a minimum coverage of $50,000 for medical expenses and $100,000 for emergency evacuations.
Types of Travel Insurance
In the post-pandemic world, travel insurance has changed dramatically, so it is important to know what types of coverage are available and the most common types of travel policies on the market.
For international travel, your policy should include coverage for medical expenses, trip interruptions, and coverage for pre-existing conditions if the latter is important to you. Travel insurance policies often have fine print that can limit coverage for any of these options, which are important to be aware of.
Although medical expenses are generally more costly than other forms of travel expenses, trip delays, lost baggage, and other travel interruptions are more common and highly inconvenient without insurance to cover any losses.
Different levels of travel insurance range from very limited coverage and extremely affordable to all-encompassing “cancel for any reason” policies that provide the most protection.
By understanding the range of options available, you will be able to purchase an adequate amount of insurance without leaving yourself exposed to too much risk or being over-insured.
Basic coverage for travel insurance generally provides the minimum amount of emergency benefits for a fixed price. These basic policies have a set amount of covered expenses, and you can purchase coverage up to a certain dollar amount.
Although basic plans are very affordable, they will not pay out more than the limit you purchased with the policy. If you are comfortable taking on more risk while saving money, a basic plan may be all you need, especially if you also have coverage from a credit card or trip organizer.
Comprehensive plans are much more customizable and provide higher levels of coverage rather than the lower fixed dollar amounts you would find in a basic policy. This extra coverage can be invaluable if you experience an emergency or need a large-scale evacuation, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Travelers with pre-existing conditions should strongly consider comprehensive plans because there are more options for medical expenses that do not exclude pre-existing conditions. You will still need to meet the eligibility requirements for a waiver of the pre-existing condition exclusion in order to have coverage for existing conditions.
Certain comprehensive plans also cover COVID-19 expenses as part of the policy, which is coverage that is often excluded from cheaper plans.
Cancel For Any Reason
If you want the most coverage and peace of mind and do not mind paying a substantial premium, cancel for any reason policies enable you to cancel your trip and receive a refund up to 75% of the total cost if the travel companies do not refund it.
Since there are so many travel insurance providers, it is essential to understand that some offer better coverage than others. For example, some providers cover COVID-19 expenses while others exclude them from the policy. You do not want to contract COVID-19 on your next trip, and you definitely do not want to find out it is not a covered expense and be forced to cancel without any reimbursement.
Pre-existing conditions are likewise covered by some policies and excluded by others. If you have pre-existing conditions or somebody in your travel party is elderly, ensure that your plan will cover them in the case of an emergency.
Finding a Policy
Once you have identified what level of coverage and policy type you are shopping for, it is essential to make sure that you purchase a plan that meets all of your needs. Since there are so many options, it is worthwhile to spend time finding exactly what you need.
Ask Who is Covered
Imagine you are traveling with your family, and your parent needs medical attention. You file a claim with your travel insurance provider, and it is denied because your policy covers you as an individual traveler and not a family member.
To avoid finding yourself in this unfortunate situation, make sure that read the covered reasons for trip cancellation and trip interruption under the policy coverage.
Some plans allow up to 10 travelers on the policy, and group travel insurance plans are your best bet for more than 10 travelers.
Watch Out for the Fine Print
All forms of insurance policies are famous for their long and extremely detailed fine print, so it is vital that you perform your due diligence and understand what you are buying.
If trip cancellation insurance is critical to you or you expect delays from an airline, make sure that those are covered expenses. There is nothing worse than assuming you have coverage and only realizing that you do not have the coverage that you need after the fact.
Shop Around Providers
Fortunately for the consumer, there are plenty of travel insurance providers that offer a wide range of plans that accommodate most types of travelers. It is up to you to shop around and find the policy that fits you and your travel party the best.
Remember, traveling should be fun and worry-free, and having the proper amount of travel insurance will provide peace of mind and provide protection when you need it the most. TravelInsurance.com makes it easy to compare and buy travel insurance plans at the guaranteed lowest price.