Whether you are traveling across the country or around the world, consider protecting yourself – and your wallet – with travel insurance. From trip cancellation to medical coverage, here are a few things to look for when you shop for a policy.
1. Trip Cancellation Coverage
Trip cancellation is often the first thing people think of when they hear “travel insurance.” This type of coverage provides you with financial protection should you have to cancel your trip. If you’re searching for a trip cancellation policy, verify the covered reasons for cancellation benefits. Some insurance plans will let you cancel for any reason and others will let you cancel for work reasons. Other programs will only cover you for emergencies, such as unexpected illness or death.
While you’re reviewing the policy details, also check to see what percentage of the trip costs will be covered. Will the plan cover 100% of non-refundable trip costs? Or only up to a specified dollar value? You’ll need to decide the type of coverage with which you are most comfortable.
2. Emergency Accident and Sickness / Emergency Medical Coverage
Emergency medical coverage supplements your home health insurance while you’re away. In fact, before you purchase emergency accident and sickness coverage, check your primary health insurance – they may or may not cover you for treatment, particularly when you’re abroad. If you are already covered for medical care, verify whether or not you will have to pay out-of-pocket for treatment. Many travelers, particularly international travelers, benefit from having a travel insurance policy to pay directly for medical care received, rather than paying out-of-pocket and then waiting for reimbursement from their primary health insurance carrier.
As with primary health insurance, check your travel insurance policy for benefit limits and deductibles.
3. Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains
Emergency evacuations can be costly, often adding up to tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of dollars. If there is an accident or you become ill and need medical care, you may need to be moved to a hospital better equipped to handle your illness or injury, or even home. With evacuation coverage, not only will you have financial protection against having to pay the costs of the evacuation, you should have access to a team of people who will help make arrangements.
And, sadly, repatriation of remains is sometimes a necessary benefit. If a tragedy happens to you or your traveling companion, this benefit will pay for the body or remains to be shipped home, as well as coordinate between funeral homes and transportation providers.
4. Hazardous Sports Coverage
Many travel insurance policies have exclusions for activities that can be considered hazardous. Such activities may include parasailing, SCUBA diving, spelunking, mountain climbing, and even skiing. If you plan on participating in any activities that may even remotely be considered hazardous, contact your travel insurance provider before you buy.
In addition to hazardous activities, many policies also exclude sporting competitions, races and games. If you are traveling to run a marathon or compete in a rugby tournament, you may not have medical coverage for injuries sustained during these events. Check your policy before you buy.
5. Security Evacuation / Terrorism Coverage
If you travel to politically volatile countries, you may want to consider coverage for security evacuations. This way, if things deteriorate and it’s in your best interest to leave, you’ll be covered for expenses relating to that unexpected departure. This may be dependent upon your home country’s state department issuing an evacuation order. Some plans may also provide trip cancellation benefits if you’re scheduled to arrive in a country in which a terrorist attack has recently occurred.
6. Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
A common exclusion in the travel insurance industry is based on pre-existing conditions. Each provider defines and treats pre-existing conditions differently, and such conditions can affect both the medical and the travel coverage of travel insurance. Don’t let this shy you away from researching travel insurance – some companies waive pre-existing conditions if travel insurance is purchased within a few days of the initial trip deposit date (the number of days varies by company), and most companies make exceptions for “controlled” pre-existing conditions. (Again, what is considered “controlled” may vary with travel insurance provider.)
7. Maximum Trip Length
Many policies have a maximum trip length. Even annual policies may have a maximum trip length to provide coverage for multiple trips in one year, instead of one year-long trip. Likewise, an annual policy may have a maximum number of trips allowed that year. If you’re taking an extended trip, make sure you purchase a policy that will cover you for your entire trip.
[stextbox id=”info”]One travel insurance company, RoamRight, is a sponsor this year at TBEX ‘ 13, and is giving away seven free blogger passes to the conference in Toronto. Enter to be one of the lucky seven bloggers.[/stextbox]
This is a guest post from TBEX Toronto sponsor, RoamRight. RoamRight offers travel insurance plans for leisure, business, student, and group travelers traveling within the U.S. or internationally. Our insurance is underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, a market-leading specialty insurer with an A.M. Best financial strength rating of A+ (superior). Our staff and customer service representatives are travel insurance specialists who offer customers expert information about trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage options.
UPDATE: The winners of this contest have been contacted and we can now announce them here:
- Courtenay Strickland
- Nick Huggins
- Elaine J. Masters
- Jeff Broman
- April Thompson
- Jill Kozak
- Debbie Miller
Photo credit: SXC