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With travel being more accessible now than ever, being aware of the pros and cons of travel insurance is vital. When you purchase travel insurance, you cover yourself against the wide range of uncertainties of travel. In doing so, you protect yourself from potentially significant financial loss.
It can sometimes seem overwhelming to decide between the different coverage options provided by even the best travel insurance companies. What are the benefits that travel insurance typically covers? What added benefits can you get depending on personal circumstances and travel plans?
It’s important to look at factors such as the medical coverage included, especially for existing conditions. Equally as important are other travel-related situations you might want to be covered for, like lost baggage, medical evacuation, or trip cancellation. You will find a variety of insurance plans out there with varying coverage, both for multiple trips or those one-off getaways.
- What is Travel Insurance?
- How does Travel Insurance Work?
- What does Travel Insurance Cover?
- What Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?
- Pros of Travel Insurance
- 1. Gives you peace of mind
- 2. Provides compensation for lost belongings
- 3. Provides coverage for medical expenses
- 4. Cover yourself against trip itinerary changes
- 5. Covers personal liability
- 6. Customization
- 7. Saves you money in the long run
- Cons of Travel Insurance
- 1. It can be expensive
- 2. Might not provide coverage for pre-existing illness
- 3. Travel insurance claims might get rejected
- 4. Comes with certain loopholes
- 5. Not all activities are covered
- 6. Benefits from other insurance policies could overlap
- 7. Waiting periods
- How to Get Travel Insurance
- 1. Answer Questions About Your Needs
- 2. Get a Quote
- 3. Pick a Plan
- 4. Check Your Coverage & Read Your Plan
- 5. Purchase!
- How to File a Claim for Travel Insurance?
- Is Travel Insurance Worth It?
- Is travel insurance mandatory for travel?
- Best for Digital Nomads: SafetyWing
- Best for Adventure Travel: World Nomads
- Best for Families: AXA Travel Insurance
- Best for Comparing Plans: TravelInsurance.com
- Best for Finding Coverage For Existing Conditions: VisitorsCoverage
- Best for Short Trips: InsureMyTrip
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel Insurance is a form of insurance that covers a range of risks that could occur while traveling. Travel insurance typically covers, for example, lost luggage, flight cancellations, medical expenses, and rental car coverage.
Moreover, travel insurance covers individuals traveling domestically or taking international trips. You can also find options for single trips and multi-trip coverage, sometimes for a specified time frame or on paid direct debit on an ongoing basis.
How does Travel Insurance Work?
Filing a claim for your travel insurance policy is similar to filing a home or vehicle insurance claim. If you have a water leak in your home or get in a road accident, you file a claim. Similarly, if something unfortunate happens during the trip, you must file a claim for reimbursement.
Travel insurance policies come in handy in situations like these. However, remember that your insurance coverage may vary by your plan and provider.
See Related: TravelInsurance.com Review: Is It Worth It?
What does Travel Insurance Cover?
Different travel insurance plans will cover different things. Generally speaking, most travel insurance coverage plans will have your back should you suffer a medical emergency, face an undesirable trip interruption, or experience damaged, stolen, or lost baggage.
Depending on the travel insurance you buy, here are some risks that are usually covered:
- Personal accident cover
- Baggage delay
- Emergency evacuation/ medical evacuation
- Emergency medical care
- Loss of passport
- Trip cancellation/ curtailment
- Travel delays
- Vacations to singular or multiple destinations
- Missed departure/missed connection
- Airline booking/bounced hotel
You can also go more specific and find suitable coverage for ski holidays or that dream Carribean cruise.
Depending on traveler needs and the particular insurance company, you will find a varying range of cover, so it’s worth looking around.
See Related: Best Scuba Travel Insurance Options for Divers
What Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?
The list of things that travel insurance covers is not infinite. You will never find a plan covering everything you might experience or do on your trip. Some exclusions or uncovered things include:
- Taking part in extreme activities that involve the risk of death
- Playing professional sports
- Medical travel
- Pregnancy and others
- Medical expenses for pre-existing conditions you don’t disclose at the time of purchase.
See Related: How To Find Expat Health Insurance
Pros of Travel Insurance
1. Gives you peace of mind
The primary reason for buying insurance is that it gives you peace of mind. The fear of what can happen during your trip can restrict you from enjoying your vacation. Having travel insurance ensures peace of mind even if something dreadful happens.
Whether traveling for business or on holidays with your family, you should be able to keep your mind focused without worrying about unexpected events.
2. Provides compensation for lost belongings
You will likely travel with expensive accessories like your camera or phone while on a trip. If these items are lost or stolen, your travel insurance benefits can cover some or all those expenses. While sometimes you can receive generous coverage limits with many policies, it’s worth reading the fine print.
There are instances where the limit on personal belongings, such as electrical equipment, might not reach the value of the goods you’re taking. In such situations, it’s worth keeping these items on homeowners insurance for full coverage.
3. Provides coverage for medical expenses
Anyone can get sick or suffer an accident at any time, and the chances of getting ill are high while traveling due to the sudden change in weather, food, water, and time zone.
As healthcare can be expensive, you should have an effective plan to cover medical expenses and cope with medical emergencies when traveling abroad.
This is where travel insurance again comes to your rescue. It provides coverage for medical costs arising from accidents or ill-health.
4. Cover yourself against trip itinerary changes
Unforeseen events may require you to change travel plans or face trip cancellation altogether, sometimes at the very last minute. This could be for several reasons, like natural disasters or the hotel/airline canceling your booking.
Buying comprehensive coverage means that, should you change trip plans, you are covered against losses from non-refundable financial loss.
5. Covers personal liability
Never mind insuring yourself; it’s also beneficial to have travel insurance to cover any damage you might cause to a third person. While away on your travels, depending on the level and type of coverage you take out, you can be covered for third-party liability for any damage caused to property or person.
Take the time to compare travel insurance plans to find the best insurance policy for your needs. One great pro to comprehensive travel insurance is that, to an extent, you can customize your plan to your own medical needs, travel style, and insurance expectations.
For example, the travel insurance cost can be lower if you don’t need high valuables coverage, pre-existing medical condition coverage, or cover for certain activities deemed more risky.
You can also shop around for policies covering adventure sports like skiing or diving, have more significant baggage insurance limits, or choose between cover for a domestic or international trip.
Such decisions can impact the price of your plan, but you’ll end up with the best-suited coverage to your personal needs rather than trying to work in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan that might be less suited to your plans.
7. Saves you money in the long run
It might be frustrating to pay the premium cost of travel insurance at the beginning of your journey, but you should consider it an investment in your health, safety, and future bank balance.
If you book a trip worth thousands of dollars and the entire amount is non-refundable, what would you do if you can’t make the trip due to a sudden earthquake or civil war?
Even if you don’t end up saving all of your money, a ruined vacation and getting something back is far better than a ruined vacation and getting nothing back. Buying insurance for your time away can make your travel experience less stressful.
Cons of Travel Insurance
1. It can be expensive
One major drawback of buying a comprehensive travel insurance plan is the cost. Multiple things come under a travel insurance plan, which can get expensive. But, as you may never have to use it, people often find it a waste of time and money.
However, as discussed, having peace of mind is enough for most people to offset the cost. Also, without an insurance plan, you may have to spend much on unexpected costs, like treating illness and injuries.
2. Might not provide coverage for pre-existing illness
Most travel insurance plans only provide coverage for unpredictable medical expenses during the trip and don’t cover you for your pre-existing medical problems. Moreover, covered conditions come with a steep increase in a plan’s price.
3. Travel insurance claims might get rejected
There’s always a chance of facing rejection during the claim process. You may have purchased the best insurance plan for your trip after proper research. Still, the claim you raise with your insurance provider may get rejected even for a small mistake or technicality.
4. Comes with certain loopholes
All travel insurance policies come with some loopholes. Some expenses get rejected even though they are not explicitly excluded. For instance, if you twist your ankle while climbing up a hill, your insurer might not cover the costs of your treatment.
That’s because “falling from a height,” even if it is just a bad step that results in a sprain, can be considered an adventurous or sports activity.
Most insurers don’t provide coverage for such activities; if they do, it comes at a higher price. Yep, walking can be considered extreme, especially for those with clumsiness as a dominating personality trait.
5. Not all activities are covered
Travel insurance companies will generally put limits on what activities they cover. This means that if you want to do any particularly daring adventure sports during your time away, you will need to pay extra.
While it is more than reasonable for your trip insurance policy to take such measures, as such activities come with increased risk, it will mean thinning out your wallet a little more to get the exact coverage you need.
6. Benefits from other insurance policies could overlap
When you buy travel insurance, make sure you take into account any other insurance policies you might have elsewhere. If you have, for example, existing medical insurance or credit card benefits, you might not need as extensive coverage on your trip insurance.
In these cases, purchasing overly comprehensive coverage could lead to overlapping coverage. Always check your coverage as some credit cards may provide protection only relating to trips, such as your flight and transportation.
7. Waiting periods
While you can receive benefits immediately in some circumstances, like in a medical emergency, sometimes the claim process can take some time. This will leave you out-of-pocket, so have backup funds to tide you over, just in case.
Moreover, some policies will have specific waiting periods before coverage takes effect, leaving you unprotected while you wait. A simple way to avoid traveling unprotected in this way is to organize your travel insurance policy ahead of time so that you’re covered from the day you leave on your trip!
Only you can decide if travel insurance is right for you or not. While it might not cover everything and may have infuriating loopholes, travel insurance can cover you for many potential upsets. The possible frustration in claiming on your insurance is worth it for the potential financial compensation.
- Gives you peace of mind
- Provides compensation for lost belongings
- Provides coverage for medical expenses
- Cover yourself against trip itinerary changes
- Covers personal liability
- Saves you money in the long run
- It can be expensive
- Might not provide coverage for pre-existing illness
- Travel insurance claim might get rejected
- Comes with certain loopholes
- Not all activities are covered
- Benefits from other insurance policies could overlap
- Waiting periods
How to Get Travel Insurance
1. Answer Questions About Your Needs
As mentioned earlier, the cost you pay for your travel insurance depends on numerous factors like age and level of coverage needed. You will also be asked for other trip details, such as travel destination, arrival & departure dates, and initial trip deposit date.
You must answer all these questions wisely and truthfully to get your claim whenever needed. Leaving out information like pre-existing medical conditions may reduce the cost, but it is not advisable. This move might come back and bite you in the butt should you need to make a claim.
2. Get a Quote
Once you submit all the required information, you get a quote. This could be a preliminary quote, as the final cost is presented when you answer additional questions.
Don’t feel pressured to purchase immediately; try to get some quotes to gauge your best option. We like using a site like VisitorsCoverage since we can get an insurance quote comparing multiple options built entirely to our travel needs.
3. Pick a Plan
Your quote may show a single or a dozen plans, depending on where you’re researching on the web. The diversity and number of options available can be surprising, and it’s sometimes difficult to decide on the best route.
Sites like ViaTravelers offer honest and comprehensive reviews of insurance companies and available options. ViaTravelers is written by travelers for travelers.
We’ve all got our own experiences when using travel insurance on a global scale. Sites like ours can help place you in the best position to get the best coverage for your needs.
Some factors you may want to consider while buying a plan include your health, destination/s, any planned activities, the price of the plan, speed of claim payments, and the level of emergency assistance you want to be covered for.
See Related: Roamright Insurance Review: Is it Worth it?
4. Check Your Coverage & Read Your Plan
After considering the above factors and re-examining your quote, you may select one or two insurance plans. Once you finalize, make sure to read your policy. Here are some things you should review:
- Covered reasons for trip interruptions or cancellation
- Luggage limits
- Pre-existing medical conditions
If everything looks good, it’s time to purchase the coverage. Read your travel insurance documents when you get them from the insurance company. Make sure your details match those in the plan you have purchased, and everything you want is on that coverage.
If the plan doesn’t include your desired coverages, you should contact the insurance company to figure out whether to get them added or removed. Most larger travel insurers will have 24/7 online customer support and a grace period to make any amendments should anything need to be amended.
See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads
How to File a Claim for Travel Insurance?
If something happens before or during the trip, you should immediately contact the travel insurance company for advice. You also require detailed records to file a claim.
For example, if you can’t make the trip due to some emergency at your workplace and you’re needed back, you need a proper letter from your employer.
If you must cancel your travel plan because of illness, you need hospital receipts or bills and a doctor’s note. You need to submit these documents to your insurance provider while filing a claim to avoid any delays in receiving payment.
Is Travel Insurance Worth It?
Travel insurance is, without a doubt, still worth it if planning a domestic or overseas. Total trip cost, duration, and destination don’t matter; even if it’s a weekend away across the state, being insured is a smart move. If something goes wrong, there’s a high chance you can get some or all of your money back.
One issue that often comes with traveling is the risk of unforeseen mishaps. A last-minute cancellation, lost luggage, sudden medical costs, or a flight accident may occur at any time. Therefore, it’s essential to keep yourself covered, and travel insurance is the best way.
Travel insurance is not one-size-fits-all, and the conditions and cost of a plan vary widely. It’s a good idea to snoop around on travel insurance comparison sites before committing. Usually, one should expect a travel insurance policy to cost between 4% and 10% of their total, non-refundable trip costs.
In addition, the insurance provider uses the following information, except for the cost of the trip, to calculate your plan’s cost:
- Number of travelers
- Age of travelers
- Pre-existing conditions
- Add-ons like specific activities and expensive gadgets
- Level of coverage
- Length of the intended trip
- Point of departure
See Related: Best Senior Travel Insurance Plans & Options
Is travel insurance mandatory for travel?
There’s a saying – “If you can’t afford to buy travel insurance, then you can’t afford a trip.” You might find some organized tours and activities require proof of travel insurance.
Additionally, you might face difficulty renting a car abroad if you’re not covered for rental car damage. But in most cases, it is not mandatory to have travel insurance when you travel.
I’m a big supporter of always traveling with insurance; it’s come in handy numerous times and gives me peace of mind when away. Looking at the pros and cons of insurance, you cannot deny that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
Ultimately, deciding to invest in travel insurance is entirely up to you, but we’re only going to encourage you to protect yourself!
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- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.