I am a firm believer in the importance of travel insurance. I witnessed many clients file claims during my 29+ years in the travel business and happily saw a 99% positive outcome. Only one client did not receive coverage. In that situation, the denial could have been avoided if instead of submitting his claim for a mental health issue, he instead labeled it a “medical” issue (which was true as he did in fact have a medical situation too). Mental health issues are unfortunately not typically covered by travel insurance carriers.
Make Good Choices About Travel Insurance
My role as a travel consultant is to guide people to make appropriate choices regarding their travel. In addition to helping clients choose the right type of vacation and destination to meet their needs, I also advise on the best travel insurance policy. I make recommendations and provide general information on coverage limits and cost, but ask travelers to take an active role in these processes. As I am not an insurance expert, I advise clients to contact the carriers directly for answers to their specific questions. Private travel insurance companies calculate fees based on a combination of the total price of the trip and the age of the individual. Insurance purchased through a travel supplier uses only the trip cost to determine pricing.
But I Have Medicare (or Other Health Insurance)!
Older travelers need to know Medicare does NOT cover them when traveling internationally. And most people do not realize a cruise always involves international travel. Even the very popular Alaska Cruises include international travel. Here’s why: For cruise ships to open the casinos and shops onboard, they must sail out three miles from shore. Once this happens, the ships are now in international waters. Medicare only covers you for unforeseen illness and accidents requiring medical care in the U.S.! A word of warning to younger travelers as well; most insurance plans follow the Medicare model and apply similar rules to their policies. Be proactive! It is your responsibility to know what your health insurance does and does not cover. Most likely, you do not have adequate insurance coverage in case of an emergency. This also applies to many credit cards that claim they include travel benefits including medical and accident coverage. Read the policies very carefully to understand the limits. Then you can make smart decisions about the coverage you need to purchase for your trip.
So, What Does Travel Insurance Cover in Addition to Medical Expenses?
|Typically, policies cover the following:
|NOTE: Repatriation, the return of a citizen to their own country, is one of the most crucial reasons to purchase travel insurance. The cost of repatriation can be exorbitant. (That includes repatriation of the remains of an individual who passes unexpectedly while overseas.) it’s very important to check limitations carefully. A minimum of $50,000 worth of coverage is necessary, but I recommend more. I usually sell policies that include $1,000,000 towards medical transportation.|
Still Not Convinced?
In case you still don’t believe insurance for travel is necessary, take a look at some real-life examples:
A seasoned traveler was recently in Dubai and about to fly to Cairo for a five-day tour followed by a riverboat cruise. He lost his passport and could not travel until replacing it. The travel Insurance covered his hotel nights in Dubai, transportation to the US Embassy, meals, and the cost of a new plane ticket to Cairo to meet up with his wife.
An elderly traveler using a mobility scooter tripped over a curb he did not see, breaking his hip. His travel insurance covered costs related to the airlift back to Florida for surgery.
A client suffered a stroke while onboard a cruise ship and needed to be airlifted back to the US for medical care. Fortunately, the expenses were covered by the travel insurance.
Another client came down with a very serious flu one day before a flight to Australia where he was to embark on a $40,000 cruise. His doctor advised him not to travel. Luckily, he recovered all his money and rescheduled the trip for the following year.
The list goes on and on including personal claims by yours truly.
Is Travel Insurance Only for International Trips?
While generally associated with international travel, travel insurance is also beneficial for domestic trips, depending on your circumstances and the type of coverage you need. It can help if you have non-refundable expenses, like hotel bookings or event tickets, that you want to protect in case of cancellation. Additionally, it provides coverage for unexpected situations like medical emergencies, travel disruptions (flight delays, cancellations), lost baggage, and even personal liability.
While your regular health insurance and other policies may offer some coverage domestically, travel insurance can provide extra peace of mind and financial protection during your trip. It’s worth considering for any type of travel, whether it’s within your country or abroad. Before you purchase, though, consider the cost of the policy relative to the potential benefits to determine if it’s a worthwhile investment for your particular trip.
Best Travel Insurance Companies
How do you know which travel companies are best or even what kind of plan to purchase? That’s a difficult question to answer as it is not a one-size-fits-all situation. And making a decision can be overwhelming for those who choose to do their own research and don’t have a travel agent to provide recommendations.
Know that there are numerous companies and several different types of plans to choose from when shopping for a policy. The best plan for you is the one that that meets your needs, covers the type of travel and experience you’re planning, and gives you peace of mind. To get the best deal, it’s a good idea to shop around. Policies and coverage often vary by company, so obtaining several quotes is advisable. Then you can compare the coverage limits and types available to find the best deal for your unique needs. Comparison sites like InsureMyTrip or Squaremouth can help simplify the process.
Common coverage types
Trip cancellation coverage: Trip cancellation coverage helps you recoup travel expenses if unable to travel, though generally the policy is limited to specific reasons.
Travel delay coverage: This type of coverage helps you cover expenses if your travel is delayed due to a covered reason.
Trip interruption coverage: If you need to cut your trip short for a covered reason such as an injury, illness, or family emergency at home, trip interruption coverage helps cover your lost expenses
Medical expenses and emergency evacuation coverage: This type of coverage is for unforeseen medical expenses when traveling outside of the U.S. where your health insurance may not work. For example, emergency evacuation could help get you home if medically needed while overseas.
Baggage loss: Baggage loss coverage is for baggage that is lost, damaged, or stolen during your trip.
So, Do I Really Need Travel Insurance?
I reiterate – don’t leave home without travel insurance! It is important for many reasons and provides you with financial protection and peace of mind during your travels. Ask your professional travel agent for recommendations and general information if working with one, then review the policy in detail yourself before purchasing. Call the insurance company to ask questions specific to your situation. This is an expense many people think they can do without; we don’t think about the possible issues that might happen. Do yourself a favor and cut costs in another area. You’ll be glad you did!
About the author: Debra Kerper
Debra Kerper, CATA, ACC, has helped people explore the world since 1993. She owns Easy Access Travel, a Cruise Planners Franchise that is part of the American Express Retail Travel Network.
The goal of Easy Access Travel is to ensure that everyone, regardless of age or physical limitations, has the opportunity to travel. Debra, an older adult, has lived with lupus since age 20 and is a bilateral lower-limb amputee. She travels extensively using various types of mobility aids (scooter, wheelchair, etc.). Debra speaks nationally about “How to Travel with Special Needs” and loves to share her expertise with everyone. Learn more at easyaccesstravel.com or call Debra at 800.920.8989.
FAQs About Travel Insurance
We understand that travel insurance is an extra expense that you may not need. Certainly, we hope you don’t. Unfortunately, things happen that are out of our control, which is why it’s a good idea. Below are some commonly asked questions about travel insurance.
How much does travel insurance cost?
The cost of travel insurance varies depending on several factors, including your age, trip duration, destination, coverage type, and the insurance provider. On average, it can range from 4% to 10% of your total trip cost.
When should I purchase insurance for my trip?
It’s advisable to purchase travel insurance shortly after booking your trip. This way, you can secure coverage for trip cancellation and pre-existing medical conditions if applicable. Waiting too long may limit your coverage options.
Can I get travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?
Some travel insurance policies offer coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, but you may need to meet specific criteria or purchase coverage within a certain time frame after booking your trip. Review the policy details carefully.
What are some common exclusions in travel insurance policies?
Common exclusions may include pre-existing medical conditions without coverage, high-risk activities without additional coverage, and acts of war or terrorism. It’s essential to read and understand the policy’s exclusions.
How do I make a claim with my provider?
To make a claim, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and follow their specific claim procedures. You will typically need to provide documentation of the incident or expenses, such as receipts, medical records, and police reports.
Can I cancel my policy if I change my mind?
Many travel insurance policies offer a “free look” or “grace period” during which you can review the policy and cancel it for a full refund if it doesn’t meet your needs. This period is usually within 10-14 days of purchase, depending on the provider.
Can I purchase travel insurance for one-way trips or domestic travel?
Yes, you can often purchase travel insurance for one-way trips or domestic travel. Insurance providers offer various policy options to suit different types of travel, including domestic and one-way journeys.
Is travel insurance the same as health insurance or credit card coverage?
No, travel insurance is different from health insurance and credit card coverage. While some credit cards offer limited travel insurance benefits, they may not provide the same level of coverage as a dedicated travel insurance policy. Health insurance primarily covers medical expenses in your home country.