Travel Insurance: When You Need It + What It Covers
Travel insurance is, as its name implies, a policy that protects the dollars you spend on a trip. It’s an optional coverage, and while the usefulness of the coverage varies by situation, policies sometimes lack clarity on what is covered.
So, the question is not whether travel insurance is worthy of your spend; it’s a question of when it’s necessary to invest in the protection and knowing what the policy covers. Because this insurance is less regulated than others, it’s always important to read the fine print carefully before making that purchase.
Take a look.
What is travel insurance? What does it cover?
A travel insurance policy protects you, your belongings, and the experiences you have paid for as you head off on your travels.
Many policies provide you peace of mind in the following situations:
Trip cancellation (if you need to cancel the vacation)
Trip interruption coverage (a weather event or unforeseen circumstance interferes with your travel plans)
Emergency medical treatment if you become ill or sustain an injury. This coverage may be beneficial for international travel, as you are unlikely to find in-network providers abroad. Compare the medical coverages between plans before you make your purchase.
Delays in your trip (Connecting flights run late, and you miss your cruise departure or another pre-purchased experience)
Medical evacuation (Ideal for adventure travelers)
Luggage that’s damaged, lost, or stolen
Emergency travel assistance (a dedicated customer service line that can help you translate in different languages when challenges arise)
While travel protection is routinely offered through online travel agencies, coverage varies wildly. Read the offer carefully. If you’re in doubt, call your local Trusted Choice agent to ensure you receive the protection that you need.
Do I need travel insurance?
Travel insurance is typically a good idea when you travel. However, there may be cases in which it’s not necessary.
To decide if you should, indeed, invest in this insurance, assess two key touchstones.
Medical Risks: If you are traveling within the United States, you can most likely find a medical provider who accepts your medical coverage if you get injured or ill while vacationing or on a business trip. However, you may find it challenging to pay a provider if this happens in a foreign nation.
Financial Risks: Consider how much money you will be spending on your travel experience, then weigh the potential losses if you must unexpectedly cancel your trip. This scenario often happens when travelers have an emergency or illness right before they travel. These situations arise for reasons ranging from a death in the family to a wicked case of the flu.
As a rule of thumb, you need travel insurance if the following scenarios apply:
A foreign country where your medical insurance doesn’t provide coverage (or provides only minimum protection). Check with your medical insurance provider, as they can confirm whether or not you receive any protection outside of the United States or its territories.
You’ve spent money that you can’t afford to lose. Have you saved for months—or years—for that dream vacation to Bora Bora? Don’t let the sacrifices you made to put aside the cash for your trip go to waste. Travel insurance can protect you.
Your destination is prone to disasters. These can include seaside locations that are hurricane-prone like Caribbean destinations or earthquake-prone regions like the Mediterranean.
You have booked adventure travel that takes you to remote areas—and where you’ll participate in inherently dangerous activities. Some examples of this could be zip-lining in a rain forest, an African safari, or hiking the Andes.
However, if you scored last-minute $99 seats on a flight to Myrtle Beach, your risks are lower. You spent little money, are vacationing within the United States, checked the radar to ensure there are no imminent hurricanes, and will probably spend most of your time on the beach or golf course—not especially dangerous activities, sunburn aside.
The Fine Print
Finally, watch out for the fine print on travel insurance policies.
Some contain exclusions that are maddening to travelers who thought they were covered for a wide variety of pitfalls, only to find out later that they are not protected.
Some loopholes include:
Reason for Cancellation: Some policies specify valid reasons for canceling a trip. Look for a plan with “cancel for any reason” language for the best travel insurance.
Purchased Too Late: Many travel insurance companies require that you buy your policy within a certain number of days after you made your initial trip deposit. So, if the coverage stipulates you must invest in the plan within 14 days and you decided to buy it on day 16, claims can be denied.
Coverage Exclusions: All policies have exclusions, but you need to find the one that works best for your trip and your lifestyle. A few of the exclusions cited in the policy might include losses resulting from:
Specific activities: parasailing, bungee jumping, motor vehicle racing, for example
Pre-existing medical conditions
Final Thoughts on Travel Insurance
Decide if your plans meet the risk factors that underscore the need to invest in travel insurance. If it does, ensure that you read the fine print and understand your coverage entirely. If that sounds like a lot to take in, reach out to your local Trusted Choice agent, a partner who can guide you in this investment.