Check for travel advisories at your destination
If you’re planning on a trip abroad, you should always check the US Department of State or the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth office website for the latest in travel advisories for the countries you are visiting.For more detailed information about what’s happening in the country your about to visit, another great resource is the Overseas Security Advisory Council.They have links to recent news stories in the country that may affect your travel plans.
Travel insurance is always a good idea
Travel insurance is a must if you’re traveling internationally. While you may think that you’re invincible, trip insurance can keep your trip from being ruined. Whether it’s a bad case of the flu, or a twisted ankle, you don’t want to be without insurance. Most people think that their health insurance will cover them anywhere. That’s not necessarily true. Do you really want to come up with $1500 in cash to pay for a doctor in Singapore? Do you want to spend two weeks in a hospital in Poland, or would you rather be in a hospital at home? Evacuation insurance is usually part of better trip insurance policies. Remember that if you do end up needing medical care while you’re gone and can’t pay your bill in full before you leave, you may not be able to leave the country your in.
So you can make sure you have maximum coverage for your trip, you’ll want to buy insurance as soon as you make your first trip payment or deposit. Many policies offer lesser coverage the longer you wait. Travel insurance varies in price based upon your destination, how long you’ll be gone, your age and how many people you’ll be insuring. You’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it is. For medical only, you’ll probably pay around $39 or so for a week long trip. Make sure to shop around for the best rate and options that fit your type of travel. Before you buy insurance, check with your current medical insurance carrier and regular insurance agent to see what coverages you may already have when you travel abroad. That way, you can just buy the insurance coverage you need.
Where to Buy Insurance
There are many different places on the web to buy insurance. You’ll want to make sure you stick with reliable companies, so that you don’t end up uncovered. All companies that sell travel insurance in the US are rated by AM Best. AM Best rates all insurance companies, so you can be assured of the companies financial viability to pay your claims. We use Squaremouth to purchase travel insurance when we travel. It allows you to compare all kinds of companies and coverage side-by-side. For some companies, Squaremouth also will give you a satisfaction guarantee, which most individual carriers do not. If you’re planning on doing sporting activities while traveling, you should also check out World Nomads. They often cover you against potential injuries that other companies won’t.
Find the Right Fit
Just like any insurance policy you buy, there are a lot of different flavors of travel insurance. You certainly don’t want to buy more coverage than you need, but you definitely want to make sure you have the right coverage.. Where to start? Here are some features of the major basic coverages:
- Trip Cancellation/Trip Interruption
This provides reimbursement for non-refundable trip payments and deposits if a trip is canceled and/or interrupted for illness, death or other specific unforeseen circumstances.
Provides coverage in the event of a terrorist incident. Coverage varies widely for terrorism, so make sure to read the details closely.
- Financial Default
Even the best known companies can have unforseen financial issues. This covers you if there is a complete suspension of operations by your tour operator, airline or other travel provider due to financial circumstances whether or not bankruptcy is filed. Coverage details vary based upon many factors so read the fine print carefully.
- Hurricane & Weather
Covers you if there’s a travel delay coverage due to a mandatory evacuation; complete cessation (meaning the destination airport has been closed for a certain amount of time)of either a common carrier (ticketed public transport) or travel supplier (hotel, condo manager etc.) or your accommodation at destination being rendered uninhabitable by weather (meaning it has either been flooded or so damaged that you cannot stay there).
- Missed Connection
Will reimburse you in the event of a missed flight connection or for the additional costs to “catch up” to a cruise if the cause of delay is an accident or bad weather.
- Travel Delay
Travel Delay provides reimbursement for meals and accommodations when a trip is unexpectedly delayed.
- Baggage & Personal Items Loss
Provides reimbursement for lost, stolen or damaged baggage or personal items.
- Baggage Delay
Can reimburse you for clothing, toiletries and other essential items if luggage is delayed for a specific amount of time.
- Emergency Medical & Dental
Reimburses you for the cost of treatment associated with a medical or dental emergency incurred while traveling.
- Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
Emergency Evacuation arranges to medically transport you to an appropriate medical facility. Medical Repatriation arranges for you to return home to receive care. Repatriation of Remains arranges for return of your remains back to the place of your residence.
- Life Insurance
There are various flavors of Life Insurance coverage, so read your policy carefully. Basically it provides cash payment for accidental loss of life or limb while traveling.
- Rental Car Damage
Collision loss/damage insurance for rental cars covers the costs of damage to, or theft of, a rental car. You may want to check with your credit card company to see if they will provide this coverage at no charge.
There is a Difference
In addition to checking for the type of coverage you might need, you need to look at more than just the total price. The last thing you want when you have a claim is a hassle. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, check to see if the companies offer these features:
- Cancellation of your Trip for any Reason
Provides reimbursement for non-refundable trip payments and deposits if a trip is canceled for any reason. Be cautious, however, as some plans provide only return of premium.
Deductibles vary by each plan and can range from $0 to $2500. Many plans offer $0 deductibles, so determine how much your willing to spend out of pocket, if you have a claim.
- Hazardous Sports
This is one aspect of coverage you’ll want to pay special attention to. Most policies exclude any “activities” that are considered “dangerous”. Definitely read the fine print and if you have any “out of the ordinary” activities planned, you may want to make sure you’ll be covered.
- Trip Duration
Many policies limit the amount of time you can be away. A trip starts when you leave your home and ends when you return to your home regardless of the number of destinations in between.
- Pre-Existing Condition Exclusions
Some companies may cover pre-existing conditions after a specified waiting period, while others may not provide any coverage. Read the fine print.
- 24 Hour Assistance Service
This is one of the most important. When you have a problem, you want to reach someone….NOW. Move companies that offer a 24 Hour Hotline to the top of your list.
- Money Back Guarantees
Money back guarantees are provided to allow you to decide if the policy you purchased is right for you. Your guarantee or “free look” period can last for up to 14 days depending on insurance company although it expires as soon as you use the policy by making a claim or reaching your departure date.
IAH TIP: World Nomads is one of the few insurance companies that will cover most sporting activities. You can check them out here.
Last modified: January 6, 2014