Edited by: Nick Ellis
& Keri Stooksbury
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Travel can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it’s not without risks. Unforeseen events such as medical emergencies abroad or trip cancellations can disrupt your plans and leave you with financial losses.
When things go wrong on your trip, travel insurance can help. Whether you need emergency assistance or reimbursement for delayed luggage, travel insurance coverage comes in clutch.
Is travel insurance worth it? Usually — though it’s not necessary for every trip. Although adding another expense to your travel budget may not be thrilling, investing in travel insurance is frequently a wise decision if you’re spending a lot or taking risks.
Let’s look at what travel insurance costs, what it covers, and when it’s essential so you can make the best choice for travel insurance.
Travel insurance offers coverage for unexpected events and risks while traveling, providing coverage that can give you financial protection and assistance when things go wrong. It can help you manage the financial impact if you experience a travel-related disruption or emergency.
Typically, standard travel insurance covers trip cancellation or interruption, emergency medical expenses, baggage, travel delays, emergency assistance, evacuation, and accidental death or dismemberment.
You can purchase travel insurance for a specific trip or as an annual policy that covers multiple trips. Travel insurance is available directly from insurance companies, travel agencies, airlines, and online travel booking platforms.
You probably don’t want to imagine that your trip will be anything less than perfect, but the reality is travel frequently goes awry — and it can cost you.
You might need to buy clothes and toiletries after an airline loses your luggage, pay for a night in a hotel due to travel delays, or face medical bills if you’re injured far from home. Travel insurance can reimburse costs in all these situations, providing peace of mind and financial protection.
Consider these situations when travel insurance can reimburse unexpected travel expenses:
In these situations, travel insurance can come to the rescue, offering reimbursement and sometimes emergency assistance when things go wrong on your trip.
For example, emergency medical transportation can cost about $20,000 on the low end. If you need a medevac, you could be looking at $200,000 or more, according to travel insurance company Allianz.
Generally, travel insurance costs 5% to 10% of your trip, depending on several factors. Getting quotes from multiple insurance carriers to compare costs and coverage is wise. These are some of the factors insurance companies will consider when pricing your travel insurance policy:
You should consider travel insurance for any trip of significant financial investment or risk, whether international or domestic. But there are some travel situations when travel insurance is particularly useful:
You might not want travel insurance for a domestic trip that’s relatively inexpensive and where your existing health plan would cover you at your destination. And trip cancellation or interruption coverage isn’t useful if all of your reservations are refundable — though you might still want it for medical and emergency coverage while on your trip.
But if you’re traveling to the Caribbean during hurricane season on a nonrefundable trip, for example, travel insurance is probably a wise choice.
You can get travel insurance by searching for a quote directly from a travel insurance company or on comparison sites such as Squaremouth or InsureMyTrip. You can also ask an insurance agent to guide you and find the best travel insurance policy for your needs.
Review the policy and documentation to ensure you understand all the terms and limitations once you’ve found a quote with the coverage and cost you’re good with.
If everything looks good, you’ll pay the premium and get your policy. You should print a copy of your insurance policy or carry a digital copy on your mobile device to access policy information if you need to make a claim or get emergency assistance.
You may have a credit card that offers travel insurance as a benefit. Credit cards with this benefit frequently offer protection for trip cancellation or interruption, rental car damage, and baggage loss or delay. Though rare, some offer emergency evacuation coverage.
American Express credit cards typically offer travel accident, car rental loss and damage, and baggage insurance. You can also get roadside assistance and access to the Global Assist Hotline.
Chase credit cards often have travel insurance, too. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® provides cardholders with an auto rental collision damage waiver, trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, lost luggage, baggage delay, roadside assistance, emergency evacuation, emergency medical and dental, travel accident, and travel and emergency assistance coverage.
While credit card travel insurance is helpful, don’t expect it to offer the same extensive coverage you’d get with a separate travel insurance policy.
Consider these common limitations of credit card travel insurance:
How much travel insurance you should get depends on how much protection you need. Consider higher protection levels if you’re taking an especially expensive or risky trip, have health issues, or plan to bring costly items such as jewelry or sports equipment. Long trips may require a greater degree of coverage to account for the potential risks and expenses that can occur over an extended period.
Frequent travelers may benefit from annual travel insurance or multi-trip insurance. If you travel multiple times each year, annual travel insurance can be a cost-effective way to cover all of your trips rather than separate travel insurance policies for each trip.
Annual travel insurance can also be more convenient than buying travel insurance each time you plan a trip. You’re automatically covered for all of your trips within the specified coverage period as long as your trip meets the policy’s limits.
Annual travel insurance policies typically offer comprehensive coverage, which includes trip cancellations, medical emergencies, travel delays, and baggage loss. You can generally add coverage for additional needs, such as adventure sports or Cancel for Any Reason coverage.
Assess your travel habits, anticipated number of trips, and planned destinations when considering annual travel insurance. If you take more than a couple of trips each year, it might make sense to get a multi-trip policy.
When you make a travel booking, you may notice you can add travel protection insurance. For example, Airbnb and Disney offer travel protection add-ons at checkout. Should you add it?
The travel protection offered at checkout is typically not issued by the operator, such as Airbnb or Disney, but by a third-party travel insurance company. These policies are typically comprehensive, like a separate travel insurance policy you could buy independently. Coverage often includes trip cancellation or interruption, baggage loss or delay, emergency medical and evacuation, accidents, and rental car coverage.
If you’re offered travel protection when booking, it makes sense to check out the details. It could be a good deal, as the operator may have preferred pricing with the travel insurance company. But you should still get travel insurance quotes independently to compare the costs and coverage.
Before you purchase travel insurance, you should get quotes from multiple travel insurance companies. You can compare coverage and costs once you input your information, including trip cost, duration, age, and destination.
Before you purchase travel insurance, assess your needs and consider the activities and destination so you can get the right level of coverage.
As you compare policies, consider pricing, benefit limits, and what’s covered. You should also look at deductibles, which can lower the premium cost but require you to pay out before the insurance company does. Make sure the deductible amount is manageable if you need to make a claim. And, ensure that coverage limits are enough to cover potential expenses and losses.
You may get better rates if you purchase your travel insurance policy directly from a provider, eliminating third-party fees or commissions. However, getting quotes from a third-party website or travel agency can be a good idea because you may benefit from discounts or promotions.
Finally, read reviews before you purchase your travel insurance policy. A travel insurance policy isn’t a good deal if it doesn’t offer helpful coverage. Find out what other customers think of the coverage and customer service and how their claims went.
Travel insurance can be an investment in peace of mind. Whether you’re taking a costly trip or need medical coverage abroad, travel insurance benefits can far outweigh the cost. Before you take your next trip, consider your travel needs, destination risks, and the travel insurance coverage you can get from different providers.
Travel insurance does pay out, provided you have a valid claim that meets your travel insurance policy’s coverage criteria. Understand your travel insurance policy’s terms and conditions including coverage limits, exclusions, and the required documents needed to make a claim.
You should get travel insurance when booking and paying for nonrefundable trip expenses. Most travel insurance companies require you to purchase your coverage within a certain period of making your first payment on a trip. And getting a policy when you book protects you from trip cancellation.
Travel insurance usually covers trip cancellation and interruption, emergency medical expenses, travel delays, baggage loss or delay, and emergency assistance services. Your specific coverage may vary depending on the provider and policy.
Travel insurance policies often exclude preexisting medical conditions, reckless or unlawful behavior, and high-risk activities.
Travel insurance is recommended if you travel internationally, visit a high-risk destination, or have significant nonrefundable trip expenses.
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