Travel insurance protects you should your trip be interrupted or cancelled. Many travel insurance policies provide coverage only if there is a major, unforeseen event that prevents you from traveling or from completing the trip. This event could be health-related, or could be another type of loss, such as a fire, natural disaster, job loss or jury duty that forces a trip cancellation.
Be sure you understand the coverage (and what is not covered) before paying. Also be aware that you may have other coverage from your homeowners, renters and/or health insurance policy for some events, and travel or trip insurance may duplicate some existing coverage. Always read the fine print on any insurance policy and ask questions if there is anything that is not clear.
- Do you need travel insurance?
Before you travel, it is best to review your current insurance policies and the coverage offered when you are away from home.
Homeowners policies and renters policies usually offer protection for personal belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged on a trip, but be sure you understand the deductibles and any limits that may apply. If you make an expensive purchase while traveling, such as artwork or jewelry, it’s wise to get an additional rider or separate policy if the value exceeds your policy limits. If you have questions, check with your agent.
Health coverage may have some restrictions. If you are in an HMO or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan, there may be limited coverage when traveling if you must use medical care outside the network or, the policy may exclude treatment received outside of the United States. Be sure to carry information with you about your health insurance or health coverage, including copies of any prescriptions you use regularly, medical history, allergies, or recurring conditions, should you need emergency care away from home. Some medical providers in other countries may require immediate payment when services are rendered. Find out what your health plan’s policy is for reimbursing your expenses, if you must pay out-of-pocket for medical services needed on your trip. There may be a deductible or limits to your coverage.
Some medical providers in other countries may require immediate payment when services are rendered. Find out what your health plan’s policy is for reimbursing your expenses, if you must pay out-of-pocket for medical services needed on your trip. There may be a deductible or limits to your coverage.
- Questions to ask before buying travel insurance
Find out if the trip protection policy covers these possible losses:
- Trip Delay/Cancellation/Interruption
- Lost Baggage and Baggage Delay
- Itinerary Change
- Emergency Medical or Dental Coverage
- Emergency Medical Transportation or Medical Evacuation
- Missed Connection
- Collision/Loss Damage
- Travel Accident
- Buying additional travel protection if planning an expensive trip
Be sure you understand the insurance options available to you. There are companies that provide protection and refunds should you cancel or change your travel plans. If you buy a non-refundable plane ticket or cruise, there are insurance policies that can be purchased to protect you if you miss the flight, or are unable to take the trip. Some policies will have a generous list of acceptable reasons and others may be very specific about circumstances that warrant a refund.
Each travel insurance policy may provide different benefits. There may be a deductible amount, or a refund may only be available if your trip was interrupted for certain allowable reasons. Some plans may cover weather-related cancelations, others do not. Some plans will refund you if there is a medical emergency, but some plans don’t include pre-existing conditions in their list of acceptable reasons for cancelling. If you choose to purchase travel insurance, don’t guess about what may be covered, be sure you check the policy and ask questions if you don’t understand.
The medical portion of many travel insurance policies may limit coverage of pre-existing conditions. The insurance policy may not cover you if a known, or existing, condition — such as a heart condition or asthma — acts up and requires you to seek medical attention while on your trip, or if the flare-up on the conditions prevents you from taking the trip at all.
Don’t assume you can change your mind about a trip for any reason and get a full refund through trip insurance: be sure you read the policy before purchasing.
- Verifying a license to sell insurance
You can verify with the Division of Insurance that a company or individual is licensed to sell insurance before you buy a policy. If the company isn’t licensed, you may not be buying insurance. If you are purchasing from a company based in another state, check with the insurance regulator in that state for information on licensing.
Be aware: Some unscrupulous operators carefully call their “product” anything EXCEPT insurance, to avoid charges they are selling insurance without a license. Phrases such as “benefit services contract” or “travel protection plan” should offer a clue that you are not really purchasing insurance. Know what you are buying.